Redshirt freshman Gary Jantzer led the way for the Utah Valley University wrestling team at the 2018 Southern Scuffle by placing seventh in his weight class at the premier holiday tournament.
The 184-pounder went 4-2 with a win over a ranked foe en route to earning the podium finish at the two-day tournament.
"Gary showed some great improvement in a couple of areas this week. He's been working really hard so it's great to see that rewarded with some success," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "We are excited about his future."
With just five starters in action at the tournament and seven Wolverines in all, Jantzer fronted the group by placing seventh at 184 pounds. After picking up an opening-round win over Lehigh's Dillon Ammerman by a score of 8-4, the UVU redshirt freshman earned a 7-2 upset victory over No. 18 Nick Corba of Cleveland State to advance to the quarterfinal round. After suffering a 17-1 technical fall to No. 10 Drew Foster of Northern Iowa in the quarters Monday night, Jantzer bounced back nicely Tuesday by earning a 10-6 decision over Chattanooga's Rodney Jones to secure himself a podium finish.
In a tightly contested bout in the consolation round of four, Jantzer then found himself on the wrong end of a 3-2 decision to the No. 8 seed from Appalachian State, Alan Clothier, to enter the seventh-place match. With the contest deadlocked at 2-2, Clothier picked up a third-period escape, and Jantzer couldn't secure the go-ahead takedown as the seeded foe held on to defeat the Wolverine redshirt freshman. In the seventh-place match, Jantzer responded nicely by recording a 6-2 decision over Virginia Tech's Stan Smeltzer. Tied at 2-2 entering the final stanza, Jantzer scored four points in the final period via an escape, a takedown and a riding time point on his way to securing the seventh-place finish.
Jantzer was one of four Wolverines to advance to the second day of action, as redshirt freshman Durbin Lloren (133 pounds), sophomore Kimball Bastian and senior heavyweight Dustin Dennison too competed on Tuesday. All three of the UVU grapplers had their 2018 Southern Scuffle runs come to a close just one win shy of placement, however. Dennison fronted the group by posting a 4-2 outing at the tournament, while Lloren and Bastian both finished with identical 3-2 records. Dennison recorded two of his four wins by bonus points at the holiday tournament, while Lloren picked up one of his three by bonus points as well.
Of the group, Bastian looked to also be on his way to securing himself a podium finish by holding a late 6-5 advantage over 12th-ranked and two-time NCAA qualifier Keaton Subjeck of Stanford in his Tuesday morning bout. But in the end, Subjeck hit a throw in the closing seconds of the third period and scored the go-ahead takedown over Bastian just before time ran out to defeat him by a score of 7-6.
Junior Will Sumner (184), sophomore Tanner Orndorff (197) and unattached freshman Tate Orndorff (285) too competed at the event, and all three had their outings come to a close on New Year's Day with identical 1-2 records.
Jantzer becomes just Utah Valley's third grappler in program history to place at the Southern Scuffle and the first since 2010 when former Wolverines Benjamin Kjar (125) and Jeb Clark (165) placed third and eighth, respectively.
The Wolverines will now return to Orem to welcome No. 15 South Dakota State to town for a Big 12 Conference dual on Friday, Jan. 12, at 7 p.m. Following the home dual, Utah Valley will remain home to host the UVU Open at Lockhart Arena the following day, Jan. 13.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.