The Utah Valley University wrestling team found itself on the wrong end of a 31-10 Big 12 Conference dual to No. 15 South Dakota State in front of 1,526 fans on Friday night at Lockhart Arena.
The Wolverines (5-3, 2-1 Big 12) won just three of the 10 matches on the night, while SDSU (6-2, 1-0 Big 12) claimed the other seven.
"It's disappointing. We know that we can compete, but you've got to give South Dakota State credit. They are a good team," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "We knew that it was going to be a battle, but we didn't rise up and win the matches that we thought we could win for whatever reason. (There are) no excuses, but we feel like when we get everybody healthy that we can compete with most teams in the country."
With UVU's Matt Findlay (141 pounds) holding to a 6-1 lead in the first period of the opening match, SDSU's Henry Pohlmeyer dropped Findlay to the mat and pinned him at the 2:03 mark to give the Jackrabbits a 6-0 advantage. Back in the lineup from an injury, Utah Valley's Grant LaMont (149) then looked strong early as he locked SDSU's Colten Carlson in a cradle and jumped out to a quick 8-1 lead. Carlson managed to escape the hold, however, and take control of the match as he scored nine second-period points. With Carlson holding to a 12-11 lead, coach Williams stopped the match and South Dakota State's Carlson claimed the bout by injury default to give the Jacks a 12-0 lead.
Tenth-ranked Luke Zilverberg then continued South Dakota State's winning ways with a 6-0 decision over Raider Lofthouse at 157 pounds. Trailing 15-0 in the team score, 16th-ranked sophomore Demetrius Romero answered for the Wolverines with an 11-3 major decision over Logan Peterson to make it a 15-4 score. Up 6-2 late in the final stanza, Romero recorded a pair of late takedowns, as well as an additional riding time point, to secure the bonus-point victory and give UVU four much-needed team points. Romero improved to 20-4 on the year with the win and a perfect 8-0 in duals.
Ninth-ranked David Kocer then answered for the Jacks with a hard-fought 6-2 victory over Kimball Bastian at 174 points to extend SDSU's lead to 18-4. Martin Mueller then added to South Dakota State's lead with a 14-6 major decision over Gary Jantzer at 184 pounds.
With the Jacks holding a 22-4 advantage, Utah Valley's Tanner Orndorff then gave No. 9 Nate Rotert all he could handle at 197 pounds. With Rotert holding a slim 3-2 lead in the third period, Orndorff rode the three-time Jackrabbit NCAA qualifier for the majority of the final stanza, but in the end Rotert managed to record an escape just before Orndorff could surpass 1:00 of riding time to lock up the match with a 4-2 victory.
Trailing 25-4, senior heavyweight Dustin Dennison and seventh-ranked 125-pound redshirt freshman Taylor LaMont responded for UVU with back-to-back wins to cut the deficit to 25-10. The 2017 NCAA qualifier Dennison won his bout by a score of 6-2 over Alex Macki, while Taylor LaMont held on late to record an 8-7 decision over Connor Brown. Dennison improved to a team-best 23-6 on the year with the win, while the seventh-ranked Taylor LaMont surpassed the 20-win plateau, as he is now 20-2 and 7-0 in duals. With 23 wins, the senior Dennison has now won 23 or more matches in three of his four seasons in a Wolverine uniform.
Top-ranked and 2017 NCAA All-American and national runner-up Seth Gross (133) then capped the contest for the Jacks with a first-period fall over Durbin Lloren to give SDSU the 31-10 win.
The Wolverines conclude the homestand by hosting the UVU Open on Saturday. The open tournament begins at 9 a.m., at Utah Valley's Lockhart Arena and will be contested simultaneously on four mats. Following the tournament, the Wolverines return to the road for a pair of duals in California. UVU will first take on Big 12 foe Fresno State on Jan. 19, before capping the trip at Pac-12 foe CSU Bakersfield on Jan. 20.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.