Utah Valley University wrestling split a pair of home duals on Friday evening with an 18-14 victory over Pac-12 foe CSU Bakersfield and a 26-13 setback to Big 12 rival West Virginia at Lockhart Arena.
The Wolverines (9-8, 0-2 Big 12), who are currently receiving votes for the NWCA Top 25 Coaches Poll, claimed six of the 10 bouts on their way to earning the victory in the opener over the Roadrunners (4-7, 1-1 Pac-12) before not being able to overcome a 23-0 deficit in the nightcap en route to falling to the Mountaineers (4-11, 3-4 Big 12).
"Despite looking a little sluggish, I was pleased with our efforts tonight. I don't care how many guys are out of the lineup right now, the key is to go out and perform and that's exactly what our guys did," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "We might have been a little outmatched in some of the matches, but we really battled and I was proud of the team for working hard."
Ninth-ranked redshirt freshman heavyweight Tate Orndorff and 12th-ranked 174-pound junior Kimball Bastian led UVU on the day by each going a perfect 2-0, while ninth-ranked sophomore 141-pounder Matt Findlay and 11th-ranked junior 165-pounder Demetrius Romero too both went undefeated at 1-0. Senior and 26th-ranked 184-pounder Will Sumner, fellow senior 125-pounder Josh Jensen and redshirt freshman Ashton Seely (197 pounds) also recorded wins for the Wolverines.
"We want to keep progressing, and I feel like a number of our younger guys did just that," Williams added. "We'll go back and get ourselves ready for a short week to head out for three duals on the road next week."
In UVU's opening dual of the day against the 'Runners, the senior Jensen got the Wolverines off to a solid start with an 8-2 decision over CSUB's Eddie Flores at 125 pounds to help UVU jump out to an early 3-0 lead. CSU Bakersfield immediately answered, however, with an 11-0 major decision victory from returning NCAA qualifier and 23rd-ranked Sean Nickell over freshman Isaiah Delgado to give the Roadrunners a 4-3 advantage.
Sophomore 141-pounder No. 9 Findlay then responded for the Wolverines with a hard-fought 6-4 decision over Carlos Herrera to give UVU a 6-4 lead in the team score. In a match that featured a number of stoppages due to blood, Findlay built a 5-1 third-period advantage before giving up a late escape and takedown to have to hold on late to earn the win. Findlay improved to 14-1 on the season and 13-1 in dual action with the victory. The teams continued to trade matches, as CSUB's No. 17 Russell Rohlfing managed to pull out a 9-3 victory over sophomore Landon Knutzen at 149 to give the 'Runners a 7-6 lead. Bakersfield followed with an 11-3 major decision victory from Wyatt Gerl at 157 pounds over UVU freshman Cameron Haddock to extend CSUB's lead to 11-6 after five matches.
Eleventh-ranked junior 165-pounder Romero responded for the Wolverines with a 9-6 decision over Jacob Thalin to make it an 11-9 score. Ahead just 4-3 in the third period, the UVU 2018 NCAA qualifier recorded an escape followed by a takedown to take a 7-3 advantage. Thalin then responded with an escape and a takedown of his own to make things interesting, but Romero pulled out the bout with a late escape and an additional riding time point to improve to 19-2 on the year.
After missing the last couple of weeks due to an injury, fellow 2018 UVU NCAA qualifier and 12th-ranked Bastian returned to action with a 6-3 victory over Bryan Battisto at 174 pounds to help regain the lead for the Wolverines at 12-11. With Bastian holding a 5-1 lead early in the third period, Battisto scored a takedown, but Bastian held riding time to earn an additional point to earn the 6-3 decision. Fellow ranked Wolverine senior in No. 26 Sumner then dropped a tightly contested 6-4 decision to No. 31 Dom Ducharme to give the 'Runners a 14-12 lead. With Sumner trailing his fellow top-33 ranked foe by a score of 4-3 entering the final stanza, Ducharme earned an escape point, but Sumner responded with a penalty point via a stall call to trail just 5-4. With time winding down and Ducharme holding the riding time advantage, Sumner looked to score a takedown but couldn't manage to convert on his way to dropping the contest.
With just two bouts remaining, redshirt freshman Seely pulled out a dominant 6-0 victory over Mark Penyacsek while filling in for two-time UVU NCAA qualifier and No. 14 Tanner Orndorff at 197 pounds to give the Wolverines a 15-14 lead with just one bout to go. Seely controlled the match en route to accruing more than five minutes of riding time on his way to earning the win. With the dual coming down to the heavyweight match, redshirt freshman and ninth-ranked heavyweight Tate Orndorff then earned a 12-5 decision over CSUB's Jarrod Snyder to lock up the dual and give the contest to the Wolverines. With Tate Orndorff holding a 6-3 advantage entering the final stanza, the ranked UVU grappler recorded a pair of takedowns, an escape and a riding time point to lock up the victory for the Wolverines over the Pac-12 foe.
In the Big 12 Conference showdown against the Mountaineers, Joey Thomas got the Mountaineers off to a 4-0 start thanks to a 13-5 major decision over UVU's Jensen at 125 pounds. Fourteenth-ranked Matthew Schmitt followed for West Virginia with a 14-0 major decision of his own over Utah Valley freshman Dylan Gregerson at 133 pounds to extend UVU's lead to 8-0. With UVU's Findlay ruled out for the WVU dual, the Mountaineers continued to excel early in the match with a 14-7 decision from Luke Martin over UVU freshman Delgado to make it 11-0.
The Mountaineers then upped the score to 14-0 with a 10-5 decision from No. 20 Christian Monserrat at 149 pounds over UVU freshman Haddock. Bumping up a weight class, Utah Valley's Knutzen then quickly got pinned by WVU's Zachery Moore at 157 pounds (0:37) to extend West Virginia's lead to 20-0.
With sophomore Koy Wilkinson then getting the nod for the Wolverines at 165, Wilkinson found himself right in the mix coming down the stretch against WVU's 18th-ranked Nick Kiussis. After Wilkinson tied the bout at 2-2 following a quick third-period escape, Wilkinson then looked for the go-ahead takedown as he attacked with shot after shot. Kiussis fought off a number of attacks, however, and finally landed a late takedown of his own on his way to pulling out a tightly contested 4-2 decision to make it 23-0.
In his second match of the night, Bastian finally got UVU on the scoreboard with a 12-2 major decision over WVU's James Wujek to pull the Wolverines within 23-4. Bastian controlled the bout with four takedowns, a nearfall, an escape and a riding time point. Senior and No. 26 Sumner then avenged a loss from earlier in the evening with a quick first-period fall over Jackson Moomau to make it 23-10 on the team score. Following an early takedown and a four-point nearfall, Sumner then managed to lock Moomau into a cradle and pin his shoulders on the mat in 1 minute and 26 seconds for six team points.
With No. 14 Tanner Orndorff sidelined on the day with an injury, the Wolverines looked to redshirt freshman Seely against No. 32 Noah Adams at 197 pounds. After a tightly contested first period, Adams got things going on his way to recording a 9-4 decision and locking up the dual for the Mountaineers. In the final match of the night that featured a pair of ranked heavyweights going head-to-head, WVU's No. 32 Brandon Ngati was the first to get things going with a first-period takedown. Trailing 2-1 entering the final period, No. 9 Tate Orndorff recorded a quick escape to tie the bout at 2-2 and take the lead at 3-2 following Ngati's second stall call. He then added an additional point via riding time to claim the bout by a score of 4-2 and cap the night with a 26-13 setback.
The contest marked West Virginia's first trip in program history to Orem.Comment on this story
On the night, Utah Valley was without the services of No. 14 Tanner Orndorff (197), brothers Taylor LaMont (125/133) and Grant LaMont (157) and seniors Mitch Brown (133) and Matthew Ontiveros (149) all due to injury.
The Wolverines will now hit the road for a busy slate of away conference action next week, as they will take on South Dakota State, North Dakota State and No. 15 Iowa State. UVU will first face SDSU in Brookings on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 6 p.m. MT, before heading to Fargo to take on NDSU on Friday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. and closing the trip in Ames at No. 15 ISU on Sunday, Feb. 3, at 1 p.m. All three matches will be streamed live on FloWrestling (for a fee).