Linsey Craig, UVU Athletics
Utah Valley junior Ethan Smith wrestles his opponent. He enters Saturday's NCAA West Regional pre-seeded third at 184 pounds.

The Western Wrestling Conference announced on Wednesday the pre-seed rankings for the 2014 NCAA West Regional/WWC Championship, hosted by Utah Valley University at the UCCU Center in Orem on March 8.

Winners of the NCAA West Regional weight classes earn bids to the NCAA Championships. The event also serves as the conference championship. The WWC is comprised of six school including the Air Force Academy, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, South Dakota State, Utah Valley and Wyoming.

Senior 141-pounder Avery Garner and junior 285-pounder Adam Fager lead Utah Valley as they are both pre-seeded second in their respective weight class. Sophomores Jade Rauser (125 pounds) and Chasen Tolbert (133) as well as junior Ethan Smith (184) are next for UVU as they are each seeded third. Fellow sophomores Trevor Willson (149) and Derek Thomas (197) and seniors Curtis Abner Cook (165) and Monte Schmalhaus (174) are all fourth. Sophomore 157-pounder Chase Cuthbertson rounds out UVU's 10 probable starters as he is seeded fifth in his weight class.

Wyoming has won the last four West Regional team titles after just edging out North Dakota State for its fourth straight title last season. The Cowboys also earned the 2013-14 WWC regular-season dual title as well this season after they held the tiebreaker over the Bison. Both UW and NDSU tied with identical 4-1 WWC dual records, but Wyoming took the trophy thanks to a head-to-head victory over North Dakota State.

The pre-seeds were voted on by the conference coaches and ranked the top six wrestlers in each weight class. Final seeds for bracketing will be determined Friday evening at the Coaches' Seeding Meeting.

The NCAA recently released the allocations for the 2014 Division I Wrestling Championships, and the West Regional/WWC has been awarded 15 automatic qualifier spots. The breakdown of the 15 automatic bids per weight class is as follows: 125 (2), 133 (1), 141 (1), 149 (1), 157 (2), 165 (3), 174 (1), 184 (2), 197 (1) and 285 (1).

After all the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA DI Wrestling Committee will meet in person to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 12. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. Last year the WWC had three of its wrestlers receive at-large selections.

Qualifiers from this weekend's NCAA West Regional will compete at the 2014 NCAA Championships that will be held March 20-22 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla.

2014 NCAA West Regional Pre-Seeds

125 pounds (top two placers receive NCAA automatic bid)

1. Josh Martinez (AFA)

2. Tyler Cox (WYO)

3. Jade Rauser (UVU)

4. Trey Andrews (UNC)

5. Ben Gillette (SDSU)

6. Hunter Weber (NDSU)

133 pounds (winner receives NCAA automatic bid)

1. Greg Rinker (AFA)

2. Justin LaValle (NDSU)

3. Chasen Tolbert (UVU)

4. Brance Simms (SDSU)

5. Gunnar Woodburn (WYO)

6. Michael Espinoza (UNC)

141 pounds (winner receives NCAA automatic bid)

1. Cole Mendenhall (WYO)

2. Avery Garner (UVU)

3. Eric Orozco (SDSU)

4. Clay Cathey (NDSU)

5. David Walker (AFA)

6. Nick Adams (UNC)

149 pounds (winner receives NCAA automatic bid)

1. Tyler Diamond (NDSU)

2. Alex Kocer (SDSU)

3. Brandon Richardson (WYO)

4. Trevor Willson (UVU)

5. Natrelle Demison (AFA)

6. Beau Roberts (UNC)

157 pounds (top two placers receive NCAA automatic bid)

1. Cody Pack (SDSU)

2. Andy McCulley (WYO)

3. Mitchell Polkowske (UNC)

4. Josh Kreimier (AFA)

5. Chase Cuthbertson (UVU)

6. Nick Olejnik (NDSU)

165 pounds (top three placers receive NCAA automatic bid)

1. Steven Monk (NDSU)

2. Dakota Friesth (WYO)

3. Joe Brewster (SDSU)

4. Curtis Abner Cook (UVU)

5. Jesse Stafford (AFA)

6. Charlie McMartin (UNC)

174 pounds (winner receives NCAA automatic bid)

1. Hayden Zillmer (NDSU)

2. John Nething II (SDSU)

3. Konner Witt (AFA)

4. Monte Schmalhaus (UVU)

5. Brent Havlik (WYO)

6. Josh Van Tine (UNC)

184 pounds (top two placers receive NCAA automatic bid)

1. Benjamin Stroh (WYO)

2. Kurtis Julson (NDSU)

3. Ethan Smith (UVU)

4. Ben Schwery (SDSU)

5. Devin Hightower (AFA)

6. Nick Bayer (UNC)

197 pounds (winner receives NCAA automatic bid)

1. Shane Woods (WYO)

2. Tyler Lehmann (NDSU)

3. Greg Isley (AFA)

4. Derek Thomas (UVU)

5. Trey Hable (SDSU)

6. Cole Briegel (UNC)

285 pounds (winner receives NCAA automatic bid)

1. Evan Knutson (NDSU)

2. Adam Fager (UVU)

3. Henry Chirino (UNC)

4. J.J. Everard (SDSU)

5. Marcus Malecek (AFA)

6. Tanner Harms (WYO)

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