UVU wrestling: All four Wolverines drop opening bouts at NCAA Championships

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, March 20 2014 2:43 p.m. MDT

Utah Valley senior Avery Garner (right) stares his opponent down on the mat. Garner made his first appearance at nationals on Thursday morning in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Linsey Craig, UVU Athletics

Enlarge photo»

All four Utah Valley University grapplers, sophomore 125-pounder Jade Rauser, senior 141-pounder Avery Garner, senior 165-pounder Curtis Abner Cook and junior heavyweight Adam Fager, suffered first round defeats Thursday morning at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla. The four Wolverines now head to the wrestleback brackets and be back in action Thursday evening.

Rauser (10-4) took on the top seed and defending national champion Jesse Delgado of Illinois in his opening bout for the second consecutive year at nationals, and Rauser hung right with the Fighting Illini standout in the first period. Delgado (26-2) then got on the board late in the first with a takedown to jump out to a 2-0 advantage. Delgado then extended his lead to 5-0 at the end of the second period thanks to an escape point and another takedown. Rauser managed to record a couple of escapes in the final period, but trailing 12-2, Delgado pinned the Wolverine sophomore in the closing seconds (6:53) to send Rauser to the wrestlebacks.

Rauser will go up against Bucknell's Paul Petrov (30-8).

After giving up an early takedown to No. 15 Anthony Collica of Oklahoma State in his opening bout, Garner (14-9) responded with an escape and a takedown of his own to take a 3-2 advantage in the first period. Collica then tied it up at the end of the period and jumped out to a 6-3 lead after two. Trailing 8-4 late in the contest, Garner tried to stage a comeback by picking up a reversal, but it wasn't enough as Collica held on to take the bout, 10-6.

Garner now heads to the wrestlebacks and face Missouri's Lavion Mayes (23-12).

Cook (7-8) battled early with the two seed and three-time All-American Tyler Caldwell (25-3) of Oklahoma State, but Caldwell took the upper hand late in the first with a takedown and a nearfall to lead 5-0 after one. Caldwell then put the contest away in the second period by taking Cook down and pinning him (3:36).

Cook now faces Gardner-Webb's Austin Trott (28-8). The two met up against one another at the Eastern Michigan Duals in November, and Trott took the bout by decision.

The 15th-seeded Fager (18-8) allowed a first-period takedown to Rutgers' Billy Smith (26-6), but the Wolverine junior countered with an escape to make it 2-1 at the end of the opening frame. Fager then tied it up in the second with a late escape point. Smith took the upper hand in the third, however, with an escape, takedown and riding time point to take the bout, 6-2.

Fager looks to bounce back in the wrestlebacks against Lehigh's Maxillian Wessell (10-5).

Session II of the NCAA Championships gets underway at 6 p.m. CT and can be seen live on ESPNU, as well as online on ESPN3.

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.