Utah Valley University 285-pound junior Dustin Dennison's inaugural NCAA Championship run came to a close during Friday's third session of the 2017 national tournament at St. Louis' Scottrade Center. Dennison found himself on the wrong end of a 9-4 decision to No. 9 Denzel Dejournette of Appalachian State to end his first-ever NCAA appearance with a 2-2 record.
"Dustin competed well here this weekend. He should be able to learn from this experience and use it to help him prepare to get on the podium next year," UVU head wrestling coach Greg Williams said.
After dropping his opening match of the tournament to No. 7 Tanner Hall of Arizona State, 4-2, on Thursday morning, Dennison responded with a pair of elimination victories in the wrestlebacks on Thursday evening to advance to the tournament's second day of action. The 19th-ranked Wolverine heavyweight first knocked off Ohio's Zack Parker by a score of 3-1, before advancing to Friday with a 9-3 win over Drexel's Joseph Goodhart.
With the wins, Dennison then matched up with the nine seed and three-time NCAA qualifier Dejournette on Friday. The UVU junior stayed right with the seeded foe in the early stages of the bout, as the two headed to the second period deadlocked at 3-3. With an escape and a takedown, Dejournette then took a 6-3 lead heading into the final period. Dennison then countered with a quick escape and looked close to securing the tying takedown in the third, but Dejournette managed to turn the Dennison shot into a takedown of his own to seal the victory.
Despite suffering the defeat, Dennison concluded his junior campaign with a team-best 24-10 record and a runner-up finish at the 2017 Big 12 Championships.
Redshirt freshman Tanner Orndorff (197 pounds) too competed for the Wolverines at the 2017 NCAA Championships but had his inaugural tournament run come to a close on Thursday. Orndorff finished his first NCAA Tournament appearance with a 1-2 record.
After falling in his opening bout, 15-8, to CSU Bakersfield's Matt Williams, Orndorff responded by earning an 11-6 victory over Rutgers' Matt Correnti during the tournament's second session. In another must-win bout on Thursday evening, No. 15 Ricky Robertson of Wisconsin then managed to end Orndorff's 2017 NCAA Championship run by scoring a second-period fall.
With the 1-2 outing at nationals, Orndorff capped his 2016-17 season with a 21-16 record.
"Tanner also competed well and has a couple of key areas to focus on moving forward. He will be back here next year with more confidence and skills to become a future All-American," Williams said.
The action concludes UVU's 2016-17 season. The Wolverines finished the year with a 5-6 dual meet record, a 2-3 clip in Big 12 Conference duals and currently receiving votes for the final USA Today/NWCA Top 25 Coaches Poll of the regular season.
The 2017 NCAA Championships conclude on Saturday. The tournament's championship finals will air live on ESPN on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.