Behind an individual title from 16th-ranked senior heavyweight Dustin Dennison, the Utah Valley University wrestling team recorded its first tournament team title in program history on Sunday by winning the Clarion Open with a total of 101 points.
Six Wolverines earned top-three finishes at the event, as Dennison took home the heavyweight title; Grant LaMont (149 pounds), Demetrius Romero (165), Tanner Orndorff (197) and unattached freshman Tate Orndorff (285) placed second; and Taylor LaMont finished third at 125 pounds.
"We wrestled aggressively throughout the tournament in most of the weights. I was proud of our guy's efforts," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "This is the first time our team has won a tournament, open or otherwise, and it was without Kimball Bastian, Matt Findlay and Raider Lofthouse in the lineup.
"This is a great stepping stone for our program, and something we want to continue to build on. We are excited about the future of this team as we work to get better. There is still so much room for improvement for all of our guys."
The 2017 NCAA qualifier and Big 12 runner-up Dennison went a perfect 5-0 on the day en route to winning his individual title. The Wolverine heavyweight pulled out a pair of his five victories on the day via fall, by pinning both Clarion's Bryce Hall (2:22) and unattached AJ Jones (2:19) in the first period. After an 8-3 decision over American's Niko Camacho, as well as a 7-2 victory over Buffalo's Nolan Terrance in the semifinal bout, Dennison then matched up with his teammate, unattached freshman Tate Orndorff, in the title match. In a tightly contested championship bout, the senior Dennison managed to edge the unattached freshman by a score of 5-4 thanks to a late third-period takedown.
Grant LaMont, Romero and unattached Tate Orndorff placed second on the day by posting identical 4-1 records, while the 2017 NCAA qualifier Tanner Orndorff went 3-1 en route to earning his runner-up finish at 197 pounds.
Grant LaMont earned three of his four victories by bonus points, including a first-period fall over Pittsburg-Johnstown's Josiah McClarren (2:09), a second-period fall over Lock Haven's Collin Gloriso (4:12) and a 15-0 technical fall over Edinboro's Christopher Matzke. The Wolverine sophomore 149-pounder then managed to upset No. 18 Sam Krivus of Virginia, 4-2, in the semis en route to reaching the title match. Tied at 1-1 at the end of regulation against West Virginia's Kyler Rea in the championship bout, a penalty point was the difference in sudden victory as Rea took the tightly contested overtime match by a score of 2-1.
Boise State transfer Romero continued his strong opening weekend in a Wolverine singlet by earning a second-place finish in his weight class Sunday. After an opening-round tech fall victory over Donnie Kerr of Penn State-Behrend, 22-6, Romero followed that up with a 12-2 major decision over Bloomsburg's Anthony Vetrono, a 10-5 decision over Indiana's Bryce Martin and a 3-2 win over Virginia's Andrew Atkinson in the semis. In the 165-pound title match, Romero then found himself on the wrong end of a 20-5 tech fall decision to Lock Haven's Chance Marsteller to place second.
After earning an opening-round bye, Tanner Orndorff won his first three matches — all by bonus points — on his way to reaching the 197-pound title bout. After earning a 4:03 fall over Jake Paulson of Penn State-Behrend, the UVU sophomore picked up a pair of major decisions over Bloomsburg's Logan Womelsdorf (12-1) and Kent State's Stephen Suglio (14-2) to reach the championship bout. In the title match, Tanner Orndorff fell by a score of 5-3 to Kent State's Kyle Conel to finish in second place in his weight class.
Tanner Orndorff's younger brother, Tate Orndorff, too posted a second-place finish while wrestling unattached at heavyweight on the day. Tate Orndorff picked up a pair of first-period falls over Virginia's Quinn Miller (1:52) and Indiana's Fletcher Miller (0:45), as well as a couple of decision victories over Bloomsburg's Bruce Graeber (6-5) and Buffalo's Ian James (4-2) to reach the championship match. A late takedown by teammate and 16th-ranked Dennison was the difference in the championship bout.
After going a perfect 3-0 on Friday with a pair of upset wins over nationally-ranked foes, Taylor LaMont concluded his strong opening weekend with a third-place finish Sunday at 125 pounds. The 2016 Junior World Bronze Medalist and Wolverine redshirt freshman opened his day with back-to-back major decisions over West Virginia's Joey Thomas (19-8) and Virginia's Sam Book (21-8) to reach the quarterfinals. After dropping a 6-4 decision to UVA's Louis Hayes in the quarters, he then bounced back with a 14-3 major decision over Buffalo's Justin Patrick to advance to the third-place bout. After pinning seventh-ranked and 2015 NCAA runner-up Zeke Moisey of West Virginia in a dual in sudden victory Friday, Taylor LaMont recorded his second win of the weekend over the former NCAA All-American by pulling out a 6-4 decision to earn the third-place finish. Tied at 4-4 in the final period, a late escape by Taylor LaMont coupled with an additional riding time bout proved to be the difference in the contest.
A number of other Wolverines had strong outings Sunday, led by a 4-2 showing from redshirt freshman Durbin Lloren at 133 pounds. He was followed closely by Matthew Ontiveros (149), Gary Jantzer(184) and Will Sumner (184), who each finished with identical 3-2 records, while Chase Call (141) wrestled his way to a 2-2 performance.
Kieffer Taylor (174), Abel Gomez (197), Benjamin Andrew (285) and Jarod Maynes (141) were all in action for UVU at the Clarion Open as well. Taylor, Gomez and Andrew put up 1-2 outings, while Maynes rounded out Utah Valley's competitors with a 0-2 record at 141 pounds.
The tournament title capped a strong opening weekend for UVU, as the Wolverines opened their season by going 2-1 in dual action on Friday at the Clarion Duals. Utah Valley recorded back-to-back wins over Big 12 Conference foe West Virginia (24-9), as well as the host Clarion Golden Eagles (22-14), before closing the day with a 23-12 setback to Kent State.
The Wolverines will now return to Orem before heading back to the East Coast for the Wolfpack Duals and the Wolfpack Open on Nov. 18 and 19 in Raleigh, North Carolina. There, UVU will face UNC Pembroke, Reinhardt and No. 8 NC State.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.