The Utah Valley University wrestling team got off to a solid start to its 2017-18 season on Friday by going 2-1 at the Clarion Duals in Clarion, Pennsylvania, with wins over Big 12 foe West Virginia (24-9) and the host Clarion Golden Eagles (22-14). UVU's lone setback came in its third match of the evening to Kent State by a score 23-12.
Redshirt freshman 125-pounder Taylor LaMont, sophomore transfer 165-pounder Demetrius Romero and senior heavyweight and 2017 NCAA qualifier Dustin Dennison led the way for the Wolverines by each going a perfect 3-0 on the day. In his first-ever NCAA dual meet competition, T. LaMont arguably had the best showing by winning two of his three bouts by bonus points, as well as picking up a pair of wins over nationally-ranked foes, including a fall over 2015 NCAA runner-up and seventh-ranked Zeke Moisey of West Virginia.
Match one vs. West Virginia
In his first collegiate dual meet action, T. LaMont (125) got the Wolverines off to a strong start with an overtime upset victory via fall over Moisey to give UVU an early 6-0 advantage. With the bout knotted up at 4-4 at the end of regulation, T. LaMont managed to take Moisey down and stick him on his back to gain the 7:26 fall. After a 4-3 win from WVU's Matthew Schmitt, Utah Valley responded with back-to-back decision wins from 141-pound senior Jarod Maynes (7-4) and 149-pound sophomore Grant LaMont (3-1) to extend the Wolverines' advantage to 12-3.
The Mountaineers, who entered the season receiving votes for the USA Today/NWAC Top 25 Coaches Poll, then struck back by winning two of the next three bouts to get within six at 15-9. UVU sophomore and BSU transfer Romero (165) pulled out the lone victory for UVU during the stretch with a last-second takedown to record a 10-8 win over WVU's Nick Kiussis.
Redshirt freshman Gary Jantzer then responded for UVU with a 6-5 win at 184 pounds in his Wolverine debut over Brenden McRill to make it 18-9 Wolverines. UVU returning NCAA qualifiers No. 21 Tanner Orndorff and 16th-ranked Dennison then helped the Wolverines seal the victory with back-to-back wins via decision. Orndorff recorded a 7-1 win over Hunter DeLong, while Dennison capped the Big 12 dual with a 4-2 victory over Brandon Ngati to give Utah Valley the 24-9 win.
Match two vs. Clarion
T. LaMont once again got the Wolverines off to a strong start by earning his second victory over a ranked foe on the day in the opening match against the Golden Eagles. The 2016 Junior World Bronze Medalist and Wolverine 125-pound redshirt freshman held the upper hand in the bout en route to recording a 5-2 win over Clarion's 19th-ranked Jake Gromacki to give UVU a 3-0 advantage. Fellow Utah Valley redshirt freshman Durbin Lloren followed that up with a dominant 5-1 win over CU's Roshaun Cooley to extend Utah Valley's lead to 6-0. Lloren built more than 4:00 minutes of riding time on the way to earning the first dual meet victory of his collegiate career.
The Golden Eagles of the Eastern Wrestling League then struck back with three-consecutive wins to take a 10-6 lead. Tenth-ranked Brock Zacherl started the rally for CU with a 12-3 major decision at 141 pounds, while Taylor Ortz and Mac Tanner followed with a pair of tightly contested decision wins. At 149 pounds, an overtime escape was the difference as Ortz managed to pull out a 2-1 win in the second tiebreaker period over G. LaMont, and a late takedown and a four-point nearfall resulted in a 12-8 win for Clarion's Tanner over UVU's Raider Lofthouse at 157.
Romero then responded for the Wolverines with an 11-5 win over Max Wohlabaugh at 165 pounds to make it a one-point deficit at 10-9, and 18th-ranked Kimball Bastian (174) followed with a 3-1 win of his own over Dom Rigous to give UVU a 12-10 lead.
Greg Bulsak (184) then once again gave the Golden Eagles the lead, at 14-12, with an 11-2 major decision victory over Jantzer.
Trailing 3-2 late in the third period, the 21st-ranked Orndorff (197) managed to earn a much-needed fall over Dustin Conti to give the Wolverines an 18-14 lead. With the clock winding down in the final stanza, Orndorff recorded a takedown on the edge of the mat and followed it up by pinning Conti with just seven seconds left on the clock (6:53) to give UVU a four-point lead.
In the final match of the dual, the 16th-ranked Dennison (285) sealed the victory for the Wolverines with a 10-2 major decision. Up 5-2 in the third period, Dennison scored a late takedown followed by a two-point nearfall and a riding time point to earn the bonus-point victory and lock up the dual, 22-14, for UVU.
Match three vs. Kent State
Following an opening 13-4 major decision victory from T. LaMont (125) against Boise State transfer and current Kent State senior Will Bardezbain, the Golden Flashes reeled off four-straight wins to take a 14-3 lead. Romero then responded for the Wolverines with an 8-5 win over Kent State's Isaac Bast to make it 14-6, but back answered KSU's Dylan Barreiro with a 5-3 victory over UVU redshirt sophomore Kieffer Taylor (174) to extend the Golden Flashes advantage to 17-6 with just three matches to go.
In a must-win bout, UVU redshirt freshman 184-pounder Jantzer didn't disappoint by delivering a 6-3 decision victory over Shane Mast to make it 17-9. Kent State of the MAC put the contest away at 197 pounds, however, when Stephen Suglio earned a first-period fall over Orndorff (2:25) to take a 23-9 lead and lock up the dual.
In the final match of the night, Dennison then completed his undefeated day by pulling out a 6-2 decision over Kent State's Devin Nye at heavyweight.
Other notable showings
Besides unblemished 3-0 showings from T. LaMont, Romero and Dennison, Jantzer and Orndorff too had nice outings for the Wolverines by going 2-1 apiece on the day.
Up next for UVU
The Wolverines will remain in Pennsylvania to take part at the Clarion Open on Sunday. Action is slated to get underway at 7 a.m. MT, and will be streamed live on FloWrestling.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.