OREM – Returning NCAA qualifiers Kimball Bastian and Demetrius Romero each knocked off a highly ranked opponent to lead the way for Utah Valley University wrestling in a 29-12 setback to No. 17 Northern Iowa in UVU's home finale on Saturday evening at Lockhart Arena.
Thirteenth-ranked UVU junior Bastian (174 pounds) picked up the win of the night for the Wolverines with a 6-5 decision over the reigning Big 12 Champion, two-time NCAA qualifier and sixth-ranked Taylor Lujan, while ninth-ranked Utah Valley junior Romero (165) too had a big win by pulling out an 8-4 decision over two-time UNI NCAA qualifier and 12th-ranked Bryce Steiert.
The Panthers (6-5, 6-1 Big 12) took the dual, however, by winning six of the 10 matches on the night. UVU (9-13, 0-7 Big 12) claimed the other four behind decision victories from Bastian, Romero, junior Tanner Orndorff (197) and freshman Isaiah Delgado (133).
"This has been a rough road over the last month and we've been looking to individual performances from everybody for progression. To be honest, I was pleased with how we competed last night (against No. 13 Wyoming), as well as how we did tonight," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "I feel like our younger guys are out their battling and I was proud of them. We seemed to have missed some key opportunities against Wyoming last night, but we managed to convert them tonight.
"Those were some big wins at both 165 and 174. They were gutsy performances. You can tell that they (Demetrius Romero and Kimball Bastian) are not back at 100 percent, but they battled and did what they needed to do to win. I'm really happy for both Demetrius and Kimball and the situation that they are now in moving forward."
With the dual beginning at 184 pounds on the night, 2017 UNI All-American Drew Foster managed to hold on late to pull out an 11-6 decision over UVU senior Will Sumner. Foster got off to a quick start in the contest by jumping out to an 11-2 lead. The senior Sumner then took control late in the bout with a second-period takedown followed by another takedown in the closing seconds of the match, but it wasn't enough as Foster held on to give the Panthers a 3-0 advantage.
The Wolverines then bounced back with a 10-4 decision from two-time NCAA qualifier and 14th-ranked Tanner Orndorff over Tyrell Gordon at 197 pounds. With Orndorff holding to a 4-3 lead midway through the bout, the Wolverine junior recorded a pair of additional takedowns, a penalty point thanks to a stall call and an additional riding time point to deadlock the team score at 3-3 after two matches. With Tanner's brother, No. 17 Tate Orndorff, out of the lineup at heavyweight on the night, UNI then picked up six points from heavyweight Carter Isley with a second-period fall over Wolverine sophomore Benjamin Andrew to give the Panthers a 9-3 lead.
UNI then tacked on six more team points at 125 with a first-period fall from No. 19 Jay Schwarm over UVU senior Josh Jensen to extend the lead to 15-3. The Wolverines then bounced back with a victory from freshman Delgado at 133 over Northern Iowa's Jack Skudlarczyk to make it a 15-6 deficit. After a scoreless first, Delgado then picked up an escape followed by a takedown to take a 3-0 lead. Skudlarczyk then responded with a reversal, but Delgado managed to escape his hold and followed with another takedown en route to recording a 6-2 decision.
At 141 pounds, then Panthers then picked up six more points thanks to a win by injury default from No. 5 Josh Alber over UVU sophomore and 10th-ranked Matt Findlay to make it 21-6 on the scoreboard. UNI then added a technical fall victory from 2017 All-American and 10th-ranked Max Thomsen over Wolverine freshman Cameron Haddock at 149 to extend its lead to 26-6. Wrestling up a weight class, UVU sophomore Landon Knutzen then followed by giving Northern Iowa's Paden Moore all he could handle at 157 pounds, but in the end Moore managed to secure a 6-3 victory thanks to a last-second takedown to make it 29-6 Panthers.
In a marquee matchup at 165 between returning NCAA qualifiers Romero and Steiert, Romero reigned supreme with a hard-fought 8-4 decision to make it 29-9 on the team score with one match to go. Tied at 3-3 in the second stanza, ninth-ranked Romero then made his move with an escape and a takedown just as time expired in the period to take a 6-3 advantage. The 12th-ranked Steiert then bounced back with an escape early in the third to make it 6-4. But with Steiert looking for the tying takedown late in the match, Romero managed to secure a last-second takedown of his own to earn the 8-4 victory.
Then in another matchup between a pair of highly ranked foes and returning NCAA qualifiers Bastian and Lujan, Bastian held the upper hand early by taking a 5-1 lead following a second-period takedown. Sixth-ranked Lujan then responded with a pair of escapes and a clutch takedown midway through the third to tie the bout at 5-5. Late in the third period and with Lujan holding the top position, the 13th-ranked Bastian then managed to escape his hold for what proved to be the winning point on his way to recording the upset victory over the top-10 ranked foe.
Romero upped his season record to 20-3 with the victory, while Bastian improved to 14-8.
With the contest being UVU's 2018-19 home finale, it too marked Senior Night for Utah Valley. Prior to the match, the Wolverines honored seniors Jensen (125), Sumner (184), Mitch Brown (133), Matthew Ontiveros (149) and Raider Lofthouse (157) for their wonderful careers at Utah Valley University.
"Only two of the five wrestled tonight, but it would have been nice to have all five of them out there," Williams added. "All of these guys are unique individuals and all five of their paths and experiences have been different. I love them with all of my heart and can't say enough about them. They are wonderful human beings that are full of integrity and hard work. They will all definitely be missed."
Utah Valley will close its 2018-19 regular season with a pair of Big 12 Conference duals on the road next weekend. The Wolverines will first head to Greeley, Colorado, to take on Northern Colorado on Friday (Feb. 15), before closing the trip at Air Force on Saturday (Feb. 16). Following the duals, UVU will then prepare for the 2019 Big 12 Championships that will be held March 9-10 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
#17 Northern Iowa 29, Utah Valley 12
184: #9 Drew Foster (UNI) DEC #26 Will Sumner (UVU), 11-6
197: #14 Tanner Orndorff (UVU) DEC Tyrell Gordon (UNI), 10-4Comment on this story
285: Carter Isley (UNI) FALL Benjamin Andrew (UVU), 3:31
125: #19 Jay Schwarm (UNI) FALL Josh Jensen (UVU), 1:45
133: Isaiah Delgado (UVU) DEC Jack Skudlarczyk (UNI), 6-2
141: #5 Josh Alber (UNI) INJ DEFAULT #10 Matt Findlay (UVU), 0:00
149: #10 Max Thomsen (UNI) TF Cameron Haddock (UVU), 15-0 (3:26)
157: Paden Moore (UNI) DEC Landon Knutzen (UVU), 6-3
165: #9 Demetrius Romero (UVU) DEC #12 Bryce Steiert (UNI), 8-4
174: #13 Kimball Bastian (UVU) DEC #6 Taylor Lujan (UNI), 6-5
Official: Josh Briscoe
Orem, Utah - Lockhart Arena