The Blue Devils will look to close out the calendar year strong as they return to the Cliff Keen Open for the first time in seven years. 

The invitational will begin at noon Friday at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas for Rounds 1-6, and the tournament will resume at noon Saturday to decide the champions. 

In 2010, the last time Duke competed at the Cliff Keen Open, two wrestlers successfully advanced to day two, and the Blue Devils ultimately placed 30th out of 36 teams. Duke is now ranked No. 23 in the InterMat poll, as high as it has ever been, and will seek to ride the momentum from its solid showings at the Keystone Classic. Duke finished ninth in the Keystone Classic two weeks ago in Philadelphia, placing four wrestlers on the podium.

In perhaps its toughest test yet, Duke will join 45 other teams this weekend, including nine teams currently ranked in the NWCA top 25. Thirty-eight of these programs are sending at least one ranked wrestler to the tournament.

After finishing second in the Keystone Classic, redshirt senior No. 6 heavyweight Jacob Kasper is one of the top contenders for the title. Currently 7-1 overall and 2-1 against top-20 opponents this year, Kasper’s lone loss was to Penn State’s third-ranked Nick Nevills. Kasper could face top-ranked competition in No. 2 Adam Coon of Michigan and No. 4 Tanner Hall of Arizona State in Las Vegas. 

In the 197-pound weight class, redshirt junior Alec Schenk looks to continue his massive improvement from the 2016-17 season. At 7-3 overall, he is well on track to jump past his 12 total wins last season. Although Schenk was unable to place at the Keystone Classic, he placed fifth in the Hokie Open a month ago.

Of the four Finesilver brothers on the Blue Devils' roster, the youngest two—Josh and Matt—headline the four rookies for Duke this weekend. Josh, 10-2 this season, won the freshman-sophomore bracket at the Hokie Open and took home a third-place finish in the 133-pound weight class at the Keystone Classic. His twin brother Matt placed second in the freshman-sophomore bracket at the Hokie Open and placed fifth in the 174-pound bracket at the Keystone Classic. 

Both matched up with ranked opponents for the first time in Philadelphia and will be similarly challenged this weekend. The other freshmen on the roster—Jeremiah Reitz at 141 pounds and Kaden Russell at 184—will seek to finish the fall on high note.

Although no Duke wrestler has made the podium in its previous two trips to the Cliff Keen Open, this year's Blue Devils will have a strong chance to change that come Saturday night.