11/24/19 Northern Illinois Wrestling, Christian Brunner

Senior Christian Brunner defends against a shot from Northern Illinois redshirt freshman Gage Braun in the Boilermaker Duals on Nov. 24. Brunner won the match 7-2.

The No. 23 Purdue wrestling team is traveling west to compete in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in Las Vegas Friday and Saturday.

The Boilermakers (6-1) have surged to a strong start with eight ranked wrestlers, including No. 7 junior Devin Schroder, No. 6 senior Dylan Lydy, No. 6 redshirt freshman Kendall Coleman and No. 5 junior Griffin Parriott. Those wrestlers will be put to the test as they go into a stacked field comprising 16 of the top-25 ranked teams.

“You try to find good competition that you might not see for the rest of the year,” head coach Tony Ersland said on Purdue wrestling’s “Always Aggressive” podcast. “Certainly Vegas offers that opportunity.”

Purdue saw success at the CKLV last year when Parriott upset then-No. 1 Tyler Berger of Nebraska on his way to earning runner-up at the tournament. The wins solidified Parriott’s place in the rankings.

“You come out of that tournament with a strong finish, you’re gonna have a solid ranking that means something at the end of the year,” Ersland said.

The wrestlers have a lot on the line at the tournament. No. 11 senior Christian Brunner has an opportunity to reestablish himself after being out with injury early this season. Brunner debuted in the lineup at the Boilermaker Duals before Thanksgiving.

December tournaments like the CKLV strongly resemble post-season tournaments, such as the Big Ten Tournament and NCAA Tournament, which are considered the pinnacle of college wrestling. As January nears, tournaments like the CKLV are traded for dual meets, but the experience from big tournaments remains important.

“The format where the kids can really earn the honors they work so hard for are multiple-day tournaments,” Ersland said. “You want to be prepared for that.”

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