The 22nd-ranked Utah Valley University wrestling team will be tested this weekend when it returns to action on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 29-30, for four tough duals at the South Beach Duals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Wolverines will face a trio of ranked opponents and a total of four Power 5 Conference foes in all, as they will go head-to-head against No. 7 NC State of the ACC, No. 9 Minnesota of the Big Ten, No. 13 Purdue of the Big Ten and the Virginia Cavaliers of the ACC.
The Big 12 Wolverines will open the Christmas break competition with a pair of duals against No. 13 Purdue (9 a.m. MT) and Virginia (11 a.m.) on Saturday, before closing the event with matches against No. 7 NC State (9 a.m.) and No. 9 Minnesota (11 a.m.) on Sunday.
The two-day dual meet tournament will be contested at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center and will be streamed live on TrackWrestling.com for a fee. Live results will also be available for each contest at TrackWrestling.com.
The Wolverines (5-2, 0-0 Big 12) enter the South Beach Duals ranked 22nd on both the latest Theraworx NWCA Division I Coaches Poll and the InterMat Dual Poll. This week will mark the seventh-straight week this season that UVU has been nationally ranked and the sixth consecutive that it has held down the 22nd spot. Utah Valley debuted in the national rankings for just the second time in program history on Nov. 13 at No. 21 after knocking off the then-No. 15 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (24-14) and dropping a tightly contested setback to No. 12 Nebraska (19-15) at the Journeymen Duals on Nov. 10.
A program-record six Wolverines enter the weekend individually ranked. A UVU record of three also currently find themselves ranked in the top 10 led by eighth-ranked 165-pound junior Demetrius Romero (FloWrestling) and eighth-ranked redshirt freshman heavyweight Tate Orndorff (The Open Mat). Sophomore Matt Findlay (141) finds himself in the top 10 by currently holding down the No. 10 ranking by FloWrestling, while two-time NCAA qualifier and junior 197-pounder Tanner Orndorff is ranked 13th by both FloWrestling and InterMat, junior 174-pounder Kimball Bastian is currently rated 17th by FloWrestling and senior 184-pounder Will Sumner is ranked 23rd by TrackWrestling.
Tate Orndorff leads UVU on the season in victories with 12 (12-3), while Romero is 11-2, Sumner is 8-4, Tanner Orndorff is 8-5, Bastian is 7-6, and Findlay still finds himself undefeated at a perfect 7-0. Earlier this month, the Wolverines posted a program-best eighth-place finish out of 43 teams at the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational after having a program record four Wolverines place at the premier tournament. Tate Orndorff led the way by being UVU's second finalist in program history and taking second at heavyweight, while Romero came all the way back to post a third-place finish at 165 pounds after knocking off a trio of ranked foes. Bastian and Tanner Orndorff rounded out Utah Valley's placewinners by both taking eighth at 174 and 197, respectively.
UVU enters the South Beach Duals with a 5-2 overall record with wins over No. 15 Rutgers, Clarion, Northern Illinois, Harper College and Niagara County CC on the season. Besides the near upset over No. 12 Nebraska, the Wolverines' other setback was a tightly contested 22-17 loss to then-No. 17 Wisconsin that came down to an overtime decision in the final match of the contest.
About the South Beach Duals
This year will mark the second year of the South Beach Duals and the first at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center. Sixteen teams will compete at the dual meet event this year in No. 6 Missouri, No. 7 NC State, No. 8 Cornell, No. 9 Minnesota, No. 12 North Carolina, No. 13 Purdue, No. 18 Wyoming, No. 20 North Dakota State, No. 21 Lehigh, No. 22 UVU, Indiana, Kent State, Michigan State, SIU Edwardsville, Virginia and West Virginia. All duals will be held Dec. 29-30.
About the opposition
The 13th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers enter the event with a 2-1 overall record and a 0-0 clip in the Big Ten Conference. Purdue holds wins over Bloomsburg and Drexel on the season and suffered its lone defeat to No. 3 Iowa (26-9) on Nov. 24. The Boilermakers are coming off a 10th-place finish at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational where four grapplers placed at the tournament. Griffin Parriott led the way by taking second at 157, while Christian Brunner placed fifth at 197, Dylan Lydy sixth at 174 and Devin Schroder eighth at 125.
Five Boilermakers enter Saturday's dual nationally ranked on the latest InterMat poll led by No. 9 Parriott at 157. Brunner is next as he checks in at 10th at 197, while Lydy is 13th at 174 and Schroder and Ben Thornton are both 18th at 125 and 133, respectively. Saturday's contest will mark the first all-time dual meet between the Wolverines and Boilermakers.
Virginia enters the dual meet tournament with a 4-4 overall record and a 0-0 clip in the ACC. The Cavaliers holds wins on the season over Indiana, Central Michigan, Ithaca College and LIU Post. UVA has dropped contests to No. 6 Missouri, No. 12 Nebraska, No. 21 Wyoming and Princeton. Just last week, Virginia found itself on the wrong end of a hard-fought 23-21 contest to the sixth-ranked Mizzou Tigers in Kansas City.
Four Cavaliers find themselves nationally ranked in the latest InterMat poll. The eighth-ranked Jay Aiello leads the way at 197 pounds, while Louie Hayes is currently No. 16 at 125, Sam Krivus is No. 17 at 141 and Cam Coy is No. 18 at 165. Saturday's match will be the first all-time dual meet between the Cavaliers and the Wolverines.
The seventh-ranked NC State Wolfpack enters the South Beach Duals with an unblemished 6-0 record on the season and a 0-0 clip in ACC action. The Wolfpack holds their wins over No. 11 Nebraska, Appalachian State, Old Dominion, Davidson, Reinhardt and UNC Pembroke. In their most recent dual, NC State managed to win four of the final five matches to claim an 18-17 come-from-behind win by criteria over the 11th-ranked Cornhuskers.
Seven Wolfpack grapplers enter the weekend currently ranked in the latest InterMat poll. Three wrestlers are ranked fourth in their respective weight class in Tariq Wilson (133), Justin Oliver (149) and Nick Reenan (184). Hayden Hidlay is next by coming in at fifth at 157, while Sean Fausz is currently No. 6 at 125, Jamal Morris in No. 15 at 141 and Malik McDonald is No. 16 at 197. NC State placed fourth at the 2018 NCAA Championships, and Hidlay and Wilson are both returning All-Americans for the Wolfpack. Saturday's contest will be the third all-time meeting between UVU and NC State. The series is tied at 1-1 after the Wolfpack claimed a 34-6 win in Raleigh last season and Utah Valley recorded a 26-10 victory in North Carolina in 2009.
The ninth-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers enter the South Beach Duals with a 3-1 overall record and a 0-0 clip in Big Ten competition. Minnesota holds all three of its wins over Big 12 foes with a 33-3 victory over Air Force, a 35-6 win over South Dakota State and a 31-6 victory over Fresno State in its latest competition on Dec. 8. The Gophers' lone loss was a 23-9 setback to No. 3 Oklahoma State on Nov. 18.
Six Gophers are currently ranked in the latest InterMat poll led by No. 2 Gable Steveson at heavyweight. Sean Russell (125) and Mitch McKee (141) are next as they are both ranked fifth, while Ethan Lizak is No. 8 at 133, Steve Bleise is No. 11 at 157 and Devin Skatzka is No. 15 at 174. Lizak is the lone returning All-American of the group, as he placed second in 2017 and fourth in 2018 at 125 pounds.Comment on this story
Sunday's finale will be the first all-time meeting between the Wolverines and the Golden Gophers.
Up next for Utah Valley
Following the South Beach Duals, the 22nd-ranked Wolverines will head to California's Bay Area for a pair of duals in Palo Alto on Jan. 12. UVU will first face Harvard at 10:30 a.m. PT, before closing the competition by facing the host Stanford Cardinal at noon. Utah Valley will then host its first home match of the season by welcoming both Fresno State and Western Wyoming to town on Jan. 18. The Wolverines will then host the UVU Open on Jan. 19.