OREM, Utah - For the fourth straight year, Utah Valley University will be represented at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. This year three Wolverine wrestlers will be looking to become All-Americans as redshirt freshman Jade Rauser (125 pounds), senior Josh Wilson (149) and sophomore heavyweight Adam Fager will be competing at the "Big Show".
The three-day, six-session NCAA Championships will take place at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, and will run Thursday to Saturday. All six sessions will be broadcast live on the ESPN family of networks. The entire tournament can be seen on ESPN3 with ESPN and ESPNU covering rounds as well. Both sessions on Friday, as well as the medal rounds on Saturday morning, will air live on ESPNU while the National Finals will air live on ESPN Saturday night.
This weekend will mark Rauser and Fager's first trip to the tournament but will be Wilson's second after he went 2-2 during his inaugural run in St. Louis, Mo., a year ago.
Wilson and Fager punched their tickets to Nationals by winning their respective weight classes at the NCAA West Regional in Laramie, Wyo., on March 9, while Rauser earned his with a fourth-place finish at the same tournament (the Western Wrestling Conference received four automatic bids at 125 this year).
Senior Wilson leads Utah Valley on the season with a 22-8 overall record. Rauser (20-8) and Fager (20-10) are next as they both enter the tournament with 20 wins on the year. Rauser will be UVU's first-ever freshman to compete at the tournament.
Each weight class consists of 33 wrestlers with the top 12 being seeded in each bracket. All three Wolverines enter the tournament unseeded.
The trio of Wolverines were each ranked in the final NCAA Coaches' Panel that came out just after regular season concluded. Rauser came in at 20th in his weight class, while Wilson was 21st and Fager was 33rd. Rauser and Wilson are also ranked in the latest InterMat rankings as Rauser is 16th and Wilson is 20th.
Rauser received a tough draw and will open his first national tournament against the two-seed and former All-American from Illinois Jesse Delgado (21-3), while Wilson will take on the one-time All-American from Oklahoma Nick Lester (16-1) in his opener. Fager will begin in the pigtail round against Iowa State's Matt Gibson (17-9).
Thursday's opening session will get underway at 10 a.m. MT and can be seen on ESPN3.com. The second session will then begin that night 5:30 p.m. MT. Live results can also be followed throughout the tournament by visiting TrackWrestling.com.
The three Wolverine wrestlers headed to this year's NCAA Championships will now give Utah Valley 10 all-time NCAA qualifiers after UVU had three qualify for it in its inaugural year of being eligible for postseason competition at the Division I level (2009-10), three more the following year (2010-11) and one last season (2011-12).
UVU has previously produced one All-American wrestler as former 125-pounder Benjamin Kjar placed fourth at Nationals in 2011.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company