Jay Drowns, UVU Marketing
The Utah Valley wrestling team circles the mat prior to taking on No. 17 Northern Iowa in Big 12 Conference action at UVU's Lockhart Arena in Orem on Feb. 9, 2019. On Thursday, the Wolverines led the Big 12 Conference by having 14 grapplers earn academic all-conference honors.

IRVING, Texas — For the second consecutive year, the Utah Valley University wrestling team led the Big 12 Conference with 14 grapplers earning a spot on the 2019 Academic All-Big 12 Wrestling Team that was announced Thursday by the league office.

Behind UVU's league-leading 14 honorees, fellow Big 12 affiliate Air Force was next with 12, while North Dakota State followed with 11. Northern Colorado and South Dakota State tied for fourth with nine, while Northern Iowa and Oklahoma had eight apiece, Oklahoma State six, Iowa State and West Virginia four, and Fresno State and Wyoming three.

Ten of Utah Valley's 14 grapplers were named to the league's first team while four more earned second team honors.

Benjamin Andrew (285 pounds), Kimball Bastian (174), Matt Findlay (141), Spencer Heywood (157), Landon Knutzen (149), Grant LaMont (157), Matthew Ontiveros (149), Tate Orndorff (285), Demetrius Romero (165) and Ashton Seely (197) all earned first team accolades, while Mitch Brown (125/133), Raider Lofthouse (157), Tanner Orndorff (197) and Kyle Snelling (174) all were all named to the league's second team.

The recognition marks the fourth straight for Lofthouse, as well as the third consecutive for Bastian, LaMont and Tanner Orndorff, and the second straight for Andrew, Findlay and Ontiveros.

In all, a total of 91 student-athletes from the 12 league schools made the cut. Sixty-one student-athletes made the first team, while 30 selections make up the second team. Cordell Eaton (North Dakota State), Nick Knutson (North Dakota State), Rico Montoya (Northern Colorado) and David Smith (West Virginia) all registered 4.0 grade point averages.

UVU's 14 honorees were just one shy of last season when the Wolverines had 15 wrestlers make the cut.

First team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA while the second team selections hold a 3.00 to 3.19 GPA.

To qualify, student-athletes must maintain a 3.00 GPA or higher either cumulative or the two previous semesters and must have participated in 20 percent of their team's scheduled contests. Freshmen and transfers are not eligible in their first year of academic residence. Senior student-athletes who have participated for a minimum of two years and meet all the criteria except percent of participation are also eligible.

The Wolverines will prepare for the 2019 Big 12 Championship March 9-10 at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There, UVU will look to qualify as many of its grapplers as it can for the NCAA Championships that will run March 21-23 in Pittsburgh.


First Team (3.20-4.0 GPA)

Benjamin Andrew, RSo., Personal Financial Planning, Mesa, Ariz.

Kimball Bastian, RJr., Exercise Science, Mapleton, Utah

Matt Findlay, RSo., Biology, Draper, Utah

Spencer Heywood, RFr., Construction Management, Heber City, Utah

Landon Knutzen, RSo., Spanish, Mapleton, Utah

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Grant LaMont, RJr., Business Management, Mapleton, Utah

Matthew Ontiveros, RSr., Community Health, Fresno, Calif.

Tate Orndorff, RFr., Mathematics, Spokane, Wash.

Demetrius Romero, RJr., Behavioral Science - Family Studies, Meridian, Idaho

Ashton Seely, RFr., Psychology, Nephi, Utah

Second Team (3.00-3.19 GPA)

Mitch Brown, RSr., Accounting, Payson, Utah

Raider Lofthouse, RSr., Behavioral Science - Psychology, Avon, Utah

Tanner Orndorff, RJr., Computer Science, Spokane, Wash.

Kyle Snelling, RFr., Business Management, Albuquerque, N.M.