Utah Valley won six of the first seven bouts, including a first-period fall from sixth-ranked Taylor LaMont, on its way to recording a 26-12 Big 12 victory at Fresno State on Friday evening at the Save Mart Center in Fresno.
The Wolverines, who won seven of the 10 matches on the night, improved to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in Big 12 Conference action with the win, while the Bulldogs, who are in their first season of competition since the 2005-06 season, dropped to 3-11 overall and 0-4 in conference competition with the setback.
Sixth-ranked LaMont (125 pounds), Durbin Lloren (133), Matt Findlay (141), No. 16 Demetrius Romero (165), Kimball Bastian (174), Gary Jantzer (184) and Tanner Orndorff (197) all recorded wins on the night for the Wolverines.
"I'm really happy with how the guys wrestled throughout the lineup. I felt like we had good energy and that we wrestled well in all three positions," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "We've been working on a few things in practice, and there was definitely some improvement shown in those areas. It was just an overall great team effort."
Leading 6-5 in the opening match of the evening early in the final stanza, 174-pound sophomore Bastian managed to score a four-point nearfall over Fresno's Dominic Kincaid to extend his lead to 10-5. Bastian then rode Kincaid out the rest of the way to earn an additional riding time point and take the bout by a score of 11-5. With 184-pound redshirt freshman Jantzer holding to an 8-4 lead early in the third frame, former Wolverine and current Bulldog Richie Brandt came storming back with an escape, takedown and a two-point nearfall to take a late 9-8 lead. Utah Valley's Jantzer managed to respond, however, with an escape, coupled with a last-second takedown and a riding time point to take the match by a score of 12-9 and extend the Wolverines' lead to 6-0.
Sophomore 197-pounder Orndorff then continued UVU's winning ways with a 9-4 decision over Fresno State's Josh Hokit to give Utah Valley a 9-0 advantage in the team score. With Orndorff and Hokit, who is a two-sport athlete for the Bulldogs as he also plays football, tied up at 3-3 in the final period, the 2017 NCAA qualifier for the Wolverines took control with an escape, a takedown and a pair of penalty points off stall calls to take the contest by decision.
Following a 7-3 victory from Fresno State heavyweight AJ Nevills, who is ranked 28th in the latest NCAA Coaches' Panel Ranking, over senior Dustin Dennison, Utah Valley then bounced back nicely by winning three-straight matches to extend its lead to 22-3. Sixth-ranked LaMont started the rally for the Wolverines with a first-period fall over Sean Williams at 125 pounds (1:44). Clovis, California native Lloren then followed with a 6-1 decision over Trevor Williams at 133, and 141-pound redshirt freshman Findlay capped the spurt with an 11-3 major decision over Chris De Loza to give the Wolverines a 22-3 advantage. Findlay recorded four takedowns, a pair of escapes and a riding time point en route to recording the bonus-point win over his Fresno State counterpart.
Former Wolverine and 22nd-ranked Khristian Olivas then responded for the Bulldogs with a 13-5 win over Fresno native and UVU junior Matthew Ontiveros at 149 pounds to make it a 22-7 score. Fresno State's Greg Gaxiola then followed with a first-period fall over Raider Lofthouse to make it a 22-12 score after one team point was deducted from Fresno State on a misconduct call on the coaches with just one match to go.
In the final bout of the night, 16th-ranked sophomore Romero answered for the Wolverines with a 13-5 major decision over Isaiah Hokit to cap the contest at 26-12. Romero recorded five takedowns, an escape, a penalty point and a riding time point on his way to earning UVU's third bonus-point win of the evening. Romero improves to 21-4 overall and a perfect 9-0 in duals with the victory.
The Wolverines will conclude the weekend trip with a non-conference dual at Pac-12 foe CSU Bakersfield on Saturday. The Big 12 versus Pac-12 showdown begins at 8 p.m. MT, at CSUB's Icardo Center. Following Saturday's contest, UVU will return home to host Big 12 foe Oklahoma on Friday, Feb. 2.
"Bakersfield is a solid team that is good throughout their lineup," Williams said. "It's going to be a really good battle, and we are looking forward to the challenge."
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.