Despite having five starters sidelined due to injury, six Utah Valley University wrestlers earned podium finishes en route to leading the Wolverines to a third-place finish at the Wolfpack Open on Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Taylor LaMont (125 pounds), Demetrius Romero (165), Tanner Orndorff and unattached freshman Tate Orndorff (heavyweight) led the way by each placing second, while Will Sumner (184) finished third and Dustin Dennison (heavyweight) placed fifth.
"The guys wrestled tough today," head UVU wrestling coach Greg Williams said. "We saw some really positive areas with some of our younger guys. This weekend was a great learning experience for the team, and we look forward to going back to work before the Cliff Keen Invitational."
LaMont earned the second-place finish after going 3-1 on the day in his weight class. After picking up a pair of major decision victories over NC State's Trevor Edwards (14-4) and Charles Lenox (12-4), the 11th-ranked Wolverine redshirt freshman then defeated NCSU's Zurich Storm by a score of 6-3 in the semis to reach the title bout. In the championship match against two-time NCAA qualifier and seventh-ranked Sean Fausz of the host NC State Wolfpack, Fausz held the upper hand over LaMont as he managed to defeat the UVU redshirt freshman by a score of 8-3 to end LaMont's Wolfpack Open run with a second-place finish.
After going a perfect 3-0 on Saturday at the Wolfpack Duals, Romero continued his strong opening month of the season by going 4-1 on Sunday en route to earning a second-place finish at 165 pounds. The 25th-ranked Wolverine won his first three matches by bonus points on his way to advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Romero then got past Clarion's Max Wohlabaugh by a score of 8-5 to reach the title bout. In the championship match against Mehki Lewis of Virginia Tech, the Wolverine sophomore then fell to Lewis, 9-4, to post a runner-up finish.
Tanner Orndorff too posted a second-place finish after going 4-1 at 197 pounds. After scoring a 9-2 decision over Appalachian State's Paul Carson, the UVU sophomore and 2017 NCAA qualifier won his next three matches by fall to reach the 197-pound title bout. In the championship contest, Orndorff then dropped a tightly contested 3-1 decision to Clarion's Dustin Conti to finish in second place.
Tanner's younger brother, Tate Orndorff, also posted a second-place finish at heavyweight while competing unattached at the event. Tate Orndorff went 3-1 on the day with wins over Garnder-Webb's Lathan Bumgarner (4-1), West Virginia's David Smith (10-0) and North Carolina's Andrew Gunning (5-4) before reaching the title match. The UVU freshman heavyweight then had his tournament run end with a 7-4 setback to NC State's Michael Boykin.
Sumner and 14th-ranked Dennison also placed third and fifth, respectively, at the open tournament with respective 3-1 and 5-1 records.
Two weeks removed from winning their first tournament team title in program history at the Clarion Open, the Wolverines finished third at the Wolfpack Open with a total of 125 points. Host and seventh-ranked NC State won the open tournament with 257.5 points, while Clarion took second with 154.
Six other UVU grapplers all took part in the tournament and all six registered multiple victories at the event. Jarod Maynes (141) led the group by going 4-2, while Gary Jantzer (184) went 3-1, Matthew Ontiveros (149) went 3-2 and Josh Jensen (125), Chase Call (141) and Benjamin Andrew (heavyweight) all posted 2-2 records.
The Wolverines now return home to prepare for the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational that will take place Dec. 1-2, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Following the CKLV Invite, Utah Valley will then host North Dakota State on Dec. 15, for a Big 12 Conference dual meet.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.