LAS VEGAS – Three wrestlers on the podium, a best-ever 11th-place team finish and successful tests against some of the best teams in the nation highlighted American University's two days at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
For the second time in the six seasons the Eagles have participated in the event, American had three place-winners and the 11th-place finish bested the 12th from 2015 and the 13th from 2013.
Josh Terao bested his No. 7 seeding by placing second in a loaded 133-pound field. Jeric Kasunic was seeded fifth but placed third after winning six straight wrestle-back bouts at 197 pounds. And Michael Sprague placed eighth at 149, with his only losses coming to nationally ranked wrestlers.
American scored 56.5 points, the highest total the Eagles have gathered at the CKLV. The 46-team field included 11 ranked teams. AU's finish was better than three nationally ranked teams (No. 12 Minnesota, No. 21 Pitt and No. 22 Edinboro).
The Eagles also scored the second-most points among fellow teams in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association. Only Cornell (8th) finished higher than AU among conference opponents.
"Coming out of this event, the toughest college tournament outside the NCAA championships in March, with an 11th-place team finish is very exciting," said AU head coach Teague Moore. "We definitely wrestled to our potential this weekend.
"I'm so proud of this squad. We showed what we can do, and we still have some room to improve."
Terao's trip to his second-place finish included a 6-3 win over 6th-ranked Dom Forys of Pitt in the quarters and a 6-0 shutout over 7th-ranked Jack Muller of Virginia in the semifinals.
Terao, ranked 13th in the nation by IntermatWrestle.com, lost 9-2 in the championship to 9th-ranked Luke Pletcher of Ohio State. His final four bouts were against wrestlers seeded 10th, second, third and fourth in the tournament.
Kasunic, an Eagle senior who came into the season second nationally among active wrestlers in pins, earned four in Las Vegas and he went 8-1 in the tournament.
After losing in the round of 16, Kasunic won his next six bouts. He got a first-period pin over Stevie Cervantes of Navy and followed with a 4:19 fall over Tom Lane of Cal Poly.
Kasunic, ranked 14th by IntermatWrestle.com, then faced two nationally ranked opponents, getting an 8-2 decision over No. 16 Nathan Traxler of Stanford and a pin in 4:42 over No. 9 Matt Williams of Cal State Bakersifled.
He earned third place in the tournament with a 5-2 victory over Jacob Holschlag of Northern Iowa.
At 149, Sprague won his first two bouts, beating Davion Jeffries of Oklahoma, 4-1 and Sam Turner of Wyoming, 6-1. He lost 4-1 to 3rd-ranked Max Thomsen of Northern Iowa, but edged Jarrett Degen of Iowa State, 5-4, in a wrestle-back.
Sprague lost to 8th-ranked Ke-Shawn Hayes of Ohio State and dropped the seventh-place match, 7-5, to No. 18 Zander Wick of Wisconsin.
American wrestles next on Dec. 22 at the Wilkes Open. The Eagles' first home match is a dual against Navy on Friday, Jan. 19.