CLEVELAND — Three Utah Valley wrestlers out of five are still alive at the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament in Cleveland. Taylor LaMont reached the quarterfinals with two victories Thursday while Demetrius Romero and Kimball Bastian went 1-1.
LaMont (125 pounds), the No. 7 seed, survived two nailbiters, winning each match by a single point.
LaMont first defeated Brock Hudkins of Northern Illinois 3-2 before defeating No. 10 seed Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern 6-5. The Wolverine redshirt freshman will now take on No. 2 seed Nathan Tomasello of Ohio State. Tomasello recently won the Big 10 championships and was a NCAA returning champ two seasons ago.
Romero (165) dropped his first match 9-4 to Isaiah White of Nebraska but came back with a major decision victory of 14-4 against Quentin Perez of Campbell. Romero's next foe will be Minnesota's Nickolas Wannzek, the No. 12 seed.
Bastian (174) lost his first match to No. 11 seed David Kocer of South Dakota State but bounced back with a 8-5 victory over Cornell's Brandon Womack. Bastian will square off next with No. 12 seed Forrest Przbysz of Applachian State.
Two other Utah Valley wrestlers in Tanner Orndorff (197) and Dustin Dennison (heavyweight) went 0-2 and were eliminated from the tourney.
Wyoming's Brandon Ashworth (165), who prepped at Spanish Fork, went 1-1 on his day and will face unseeded Gordon Wolf of Lehigh. Ashworth did land the No. 14 seed.
In the team race, Big 10 champs Ohio State won 19 out of 20 matches on day one to score 38 points. Penn State, led by former Wasatch High School four-time state champion Cael Sanderson, is second with 28.5 points while Iowa sits in third with 27 points. Michigan stands in fourth with 23 while North Carolina State rounds out the top five with 20 points. Utah Valley sits in a tie for 36th place with four points. A total of 72 schools qualified wrestlers for this year's tournament.
Brian Preece is a freelance sportswriter. He was also the head wrestling coach at Provo High School from 1994-2006. In 2006 Preece was named as the Utah Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.