After taking the past three weeks off, the Utah Valley University wrestling team returns to action at the 35th annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Competition at the prestigious two-day tournament begins each day at 10 a.m. MT.
The Wolverines enter the tournament with a 1-1 dual record after splitting a pair of dual meets against Nebraska-Kearney (32-6) and No. 23 Northern Iowa (12-24) on Nov. 11. Following the UNI Duals, heavyweight Dustin Dennison led the way for UVU at Iowa State's Harold Nichols Cyclone Open on Nov. 13, by winning a tournament championship with an unblemished 5-0 record at the event. One of Dennison's victories included a 55-second fall over 12th-ranked Collin Jensen of Nebraska in the title bout. With Dennison's upset victory and tournament title, the Wolverine heavyweight entered the top 20 national rankings for the first time in his collegiate career as he found himself ranked 20th in his weight class by InterMat for the past two weeks.
In all, seven Wolverines placed at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open with fellow heavyweight Jordan Karst, 149-pounder Grant LaMont and 157-pounder Raider Lofthouse each earning third-place finishes, and 174-pounder Kimball Bastian, 197-pounder Tanner Orndorff and unattached freshman 125-pounder Taylor LaMont each placing fourth.
Karst and Lofthouse lead the Wolverines on the year with 11-2 and 11-4 respective individual records, while 165-pound freshman Koy Wilkinson holds a 10-4 clip. Mitch Brown (125 pounds) is next with an 8-3 record while Bastian, Orndorff and Grant LaMont hold 8-4 clips and Dennison enters the weekend with a 6-1 record.
Brown (125), Jarod Maynes (133), Chase Call (141), Grant LaMont (149), Wilkinson (165), Bastian (174), Will Sumner (184), Orndorff (197) and Dennison (285) are scheduled to compete for UVU at this weekend's tournament.
About the CKLV Invitational
The 35th annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational will feature 35 teams, including eight that are currently ranked in the latest USA Today/NWCA Coaches Poll. No. 4 Ohio State, No. 6 Virginia Tech, No. 8 Cornell, No. 10 Michigan, No. 15 Stanford, No. 17, Wisconsin, No. 18 Minnesota and No. 19 Arizona State will all be in attendance, as well as grapplers from fellow Big 12 schools Air Force, Iowa State, Northern Colorado, West Virginia and Wyoming. Wrestlers from American University, Army, Binghamton, Boise State, Bucknell, Cal Poly, CSU Bakersfield, Central Michigan, Clarion, Columbia, Eastern Michigan, Edinboro, Harvard, Kent State, Navy, Oregon State, Purdue, Cal Baptist, Nebraska-Kearney, North Idaho and Western Wyoming will also compete at the tournament.
UVU all-time at CKLV Invite
Utah Valley will be searching for its first place-winner at the renowned tournament since the 2013-14 season when former heavyweight Adam Fager finished fourth in his weight class to mark the highest-ever finish at the CKLV Invite by a Wolverine. Last season, both departed 2015-16 seniors, Chasen Tolbert(125) and Derek Thomas (197), wrestled well for UVU, but each finished just one win shy of placing as both had their tournament runs come to a close in the consolation quarterfinals. In all, five Wolverines have placed at the prestigious event, as Fager placed fourth at heavyweight in 2013, All-American Jade Rauser took eighth at 125 in 2012, Josh Wilson finished fifth at 149 in 2011, All-American Benjamin Kjar took seventh in both 2010 and 2009 at 125 and eighth in 2008, and Flint Ray placed eighth for the Wolverines in 2009 at 133 pounds.
Dennison enters rankings for first time
After winning a Harold Nichols Cyclone Open title and pinning 12th-ranked Collin Jensen of Nebraska in just 55 seconds on Nov. 13, heavyweight Dennison entered the top 20 national rankings for the first time in his career. Dennison found himself ranked 20th by InterMat for the Nov. 15 and Nov. 22 polls. He recently dropped out of the InterMat poll, however, due to inactivity, but will look to cement his case to reenter the rankings this weekend. Despite being just outside the InterMat poll, Dennison finds himself currently ranked 15th by WIN Magazine and 17th by The Open Mat.
Up next for UVU
The Wolverines will return to dual action at rival Boise State on Saturday, Dec. 10. Following next Saturday's dual against the Pac-12 Broncos in Boise, UVU will return to Orem for its 2016-17 home opener against fellow Pac-12 foe Oregon State on Thursday, Dec. 15, in Utah Valley's PE Building.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.