LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Senior captain John Boyle won his quarterfinal match on Friday evening to lead the American University wrestling team on the first day of competition at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
With his win, Boyle advances to the semifinals on Saturday morning and is assured a spot in the top six.
Meanwhile, senior David Terao, redshirt junior Esteban Gomez-Rivera and sophomore Jeric Kasunic all remain in contention for top-eight finishes and will compete in the consolation bracket on Saturday.
"Our wrestlers performed well in a high-level national competition," said American head coach Teague Moore. "John Boyle fought through some very tough matches to put himself into the semifinals."
Boyle, ranked 18th in the nation at 157 pounds, posted a 4-0 record on Friday, opening the day with an 18-0 technical fall over Iowa State's Logan Breitenbach. He followed that win with a pair of one-point decisions, defeating Cal Baptist's Brady Bersano, 4-3, and No. 20 Brandon Kingsley of Minnesota, 2-1, in a second tiebreaker.
Boyle advanced to Friday's quarterfinals, where he secured a 6-4 decision over Cornell's Christian Dowdy. With the win, Boyle locked in his spot in the semifinal, where he will face Russell Parsons of Army West Point.
Beginning the day with an opening-round bye, Terao opened competition with a 13-10 win over Ben Thornton of Purdue. He then rolled to a 21-9 major decision over Northern Colorado's Trey Andrews before coming up short in a 5-2 quarterfinal loss to ninth-ranked Ronnie Bresser of Oregon State.
Terao, ranked sixth at 125 pounds, falls into the consolation bracket to face off against Utah Valley's Chasen Tolbert, who is currently ranked eighth in the nation.
Gomez-Rivera, wrestling at 133 pounds, also had a strong start to the day, following an opening round bye with a first-period fall over Ian Berreda of the Gateway Bible Institute. He then knocked off West Virginia's Keegan Moore in a close 6-5 decision, but dropped a 5-3 decision in the quarterfinals to Iowa State's seventh-ranked Earl Hall.
In his first match on Saturday, Gomez-Rivera will take on Daniel DeShazer of Nebraska-Kearney.
"David and Esteban both wrestled very hard, but came up short against some tough competition this evening," said Moore. "They will be back tomorrow in the round-of-12 consolations."
At 197 pounds, Kasunic faced a tough opponent in his first match, dropping a 6-2 decision to seventh-ranked Jake Smith of West Virginia. However, he rebounded well, scoring four straight victories in the consolation bracket. His win streak included a pair of falls, as well as a 3-0 decision over 16th-ranked Mark Martin of Ohio State.
Kasunic faces another nationally ranked opponent on Saturday morning, as he takes on No. 19 Derek Thomas of Utah Valley for the right to advance in the consolation bracket.
"Jeric has really shown a big heart by battling through to the round-of-12 consolations after losing his first match," said Moore. "I'm very happy that he has been able to push through such a tough situation."
While Boyle has already secured a spot in the top six, Terao, Gomez-Rivera and Kasunic all need at least one more win to earn a spot on the podium.
"We have the chance to leave with four placewinners tomorrow," said Moore. "We need to refocus our athletes in the wrestlebacks to win the small positions and find their scoring abilities. If we do that, we stand a good chance to bring home four medalists."
Competition continues at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational tomorrow at 9 a.m. (PT).