The Utah Valley University wrestling team will close its regular season by hosting Northern Colorado on Friday at 7 p.m., at Lockhart Arena. The contest will mark Senior Night for UVU, as seniors Dustin Dennison (285 pounds), Abel Gomez (197) and Jarod Maynes (133) will be honored prior to the first match.
The Wolverines (8-5, 4-3 Big 12) dropped out of the USA Today/NWCA Top 25 Coaches Poll this week after falling on the road to both No. 17 Wyoming and Air Force last weekend. UVU, which was without the services of its two highest-ranked wrestlers in No. 6 Taylor LaMont (125) and No. 16 Demetrius Romero (165), first dropped a 38-4 contest to the ranked Cowboys, before closing the trip with a 26-10 setback to the Falcons. Utah Valley enters Friday's contest currently receiving votes for the USA Today/NWCA poll and ranked 26th nationally by TrackWrestling.
Seventeenth-ranked sophomore Kimball Bastian (174) was the lone Wolverine to win matches in each contest, as he won both of his bouts by major decision. Bastian, who was the Big 12 Conference Co-Wrestler of the Week a week ago, first defeated Wyoming's Dewey Krueger, 10-2, before capping the trip with a 10-1 win over AFA's Michael Billingsley. Fellow sophomore Tanner Orndorff (197) and Dennison too recorded wins for the Wolverines against the Falcons by defeating No. 31 Anthony McLaughlin (8-4) and Matt Wagner (3-1), respectively. Orndorff is ranked 33rd in the latest NCAA Coaches' Panel Rankings while Dennison is 27th.
Five Wolverines are ranked in the latest NCAA Coaches' Panel, as well as six in latest RPI. LaMont leads the way as he's ranked sixth by the coaches and No. 1 in the nation in the RPI at 125 pounds with a 22-2 record. Romero is next by being rated 16th by the coaches and fifth in the RPI with a 23-4 clip at 165, while Bastian (14-7) is ranked 29th and 17th, respectively, at 174, Orndorff (18-11) is 33rd and 18th at 197, Dennison (26-8) is 27th and 28th at heavyweight and redshirt freshman Gary Jantzer (18-11) is tabbed 18th in the latest RPI at 184 pounds. The six ranked wrestlers is a program high for Utah Valley, while LaMont's No. 1 ranking in the RPI is UVU's highest individual ranking as well.
The senior Dennison, who was a 2017 NCAA qualifier for the Wolverines, enters Friday's Senior Night contest currently tied for second all-time in the UVU record book with 86 career victories. He is currently tied with former Utah Valley great Flint Ray (2007-11) and sits 43 wins shy of Benjamin Kjar's (2007-11) program record of 129. Dennison's 26 victories on the season also lead the team this year and rank him eighth in the program's single-season record book as well.
About Northern Colorado
The Bears enter Friday's contest with a 2-9 overall record and a 1-5 Big 12 Conference clip. Northern Colorado has lost five-straight duals, including a 38-4 setback to No. 17 Wyoming last weekend. UNC's two wins have come over Big 12 foe Iowa State (22-20) and Pac-12 foe Cal Poly (21-20).
Four wrestlers are currently ranked for the Bears, led by 17th-ranked Keilan Torres (17-7) at 165 pounds. Dylan Gabel (18-8) is next, as he comes in ranked No. 19 at 184, while Jacob Seely (14-8) is 20th at 197 and Rico Montoya (19-9) is 25th at 133.
All-time series vs. Northern Colorado
Friday's contest will mark the 18th dual meet between the Wolverines and Bears. Northern Colorado enters the contest holding a slight 10-7 series lead and having won the last three meetings, which includes a 22-16 win in Orem last season.
Up next for UVU
Following Friday's regular-season finale, the Wolverines will prepare for the Big 12 Championships that will run March 3-4, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There, UVU will look to qualify as many of its grapplers as it can for the 2018 NCAA Championships that will be held March 15-17, at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.