The Michigan wrestling team traveled to Las Vegas this weekend and didn’t gamble a penny. But it still managed to come back to Ann Arbor without something it had when it left – the Cliff Keen Invitational title.

The Wolverines – ranked sixth in the country according to Wrestling International News Magazine – finished a disappointing seventh place in the tournament that they won last season.

“We definitely didn’t wrestle our best – that’s for sure,” Michigan coach Joe McFarland said. “We were inconsistent and need to do a better job preparing for our matches.”

The Wolverines’ struggles started in the first day of the two-day tournament, with the team able to place just two wrestlers – A.J. Grant at 125 pounds and Ryan Bertin at 157 – in the semifinals. Grant, who finished in fifth place, was pinned by No. 1 Chris Fleeger from Purdue in the semifinals. He then dropped a tough match to unseeded Ben Vombaur from Boise State.

In the second period of his semifinal match against Ohio State’s Keaton Anderson, Bertin hurt his ankle. Bertin tried to wrestle with the injury but was clearly not himself. He was forced to forfeit the match by injury default.

“The ankle was a little sore today. (Bertin) is going to take some time off the mat for now,” McFarland said.

Kyle Smith, Michigan’s only top-seeded wrestler, was upset in the quarterfinals by No. 8 Emmett Wilson from Montana State by a score of 5-2. Smith finished the tournament in seventh place.

“Kyle didn’t have a good tournament,” McFarland said. “He looked flat and didn’t wrestle with enough intensity. I’m sure he’s disappointed, but Kyle will be back.”

The only wrestler who wrestled up to his seed was 133-pounder Foley Dowd. Dowd was seeded third and finished there as well. Dowd had a tough road to the podium though, having to wrestle seven matches – four of which were against seeded opponents.

“(Dowd) lost a tough match in the quarterfinals but did a great job coming back and taking third in a tough weight class,” McFarland said.

Luckily for Michigan, Dowd was not the only bright spot. Freshmen R.J. Boudro (174 pounds) and Greg Wagner (heavyweight) did not end up placing in the invitational, but wrestled strong tournaments, each finishing with 3-2 records. The unseeded Boudro pulled off Michigan’s only upset in the tournament, beating No. 5 Matt Erwin of the Virginia Military Institute.

“Wagner and Boudro both wrestled well,” McFarland said. “They’re young and the tournament was great experience for them. I’m sure there is a lot they can take away from it. They competed hard, which is the most important thing.”

Minnesota won the tournament with 131 points, ahead of Illinois and Ohio State, which had 123.5 and 118.5 points, respectively. Michigan finished with 87 points.

“It’s still early in the season, and this was our first tournament,” McFarland said. “Hopefully, we can work the bugs out.”

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