W. Randy Martin
Utah Valley sophomore 141-pounder looks to take Old Dominion's Sa'Derian Perry down on Friday afternoon at the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Findlay went on to win the match and finished his first NCAA appearance with a 3-2 record.

PITTSBURGH After winning three straight matches to advance to Friday's fourth session, Utah Valley University's Matt Findlay and Demetrius Romero both had their 2019 NCAA Championship runs come to a close in the Round of 12 to each finish just one win shy of earning All-American honors on Friday night at PPG Paints Arena.

Both Findlay and Romero dropped their opening-round matches on Thursday but each managed to wrestle their way back in the consolation rounds with three straight victories to advance to Friday's "Blood Round". One win away from securing a podium finish, the sophomore and 20th-seeded Findlay then dropped his Round of 12 contest to No. 9 Dom Demas of Oklahoma while two-time NCAA qualifier and ninth-seeded junior Romero fell to returning All-American and fifth-seeded Chance Marsteller of Lock Haven to each finish with identical 3-2 records at the 2019 NCAA Championships.

"We are very proud of Matt and Demetrius. After disappointing first-round matches, they put it all out there one match at a time. Though they are extremely disappointed to fall short, they have been instrumental in our team's success all year," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "They both have beaten multiple All-Americans this season and set a pace and tone in our room that is helping the culture change UVU Wrestling is experiencing."

The 20th-seeded sophomore 141-pounder Findlay had his impressive inaugural NCAA run come to a close with a 17-7 setback to the 2019 Big 12 champion Demas of Oklahoma in Friday night's Round of 12. The OU redshirt freshman got off to a strong start with four first-period takedowns to jump out to an 8-4 advantage. Findlay then picked up two more escape points in the second and another in the third, but it wasn't enough as Demas locked up All-American status with a couple more takedowns down the stretch to win by major decision.

After suffering an 8-7 setback in his opening match on Thursday, Findlay responded with three straight wins — including two during Friday's third session — to advance to the "Blood Round". During his first NCAA appearance, the 20th-seeded Findlay managed to knock off No. 29 Corey Shie of Army (16-5) and returning All-American and No. 19 Sa'Derian Perry of Old Dominion (6-3), as well as an impressive first-period fall over No. 6 Mike Carr of Illinois (2:19).

After going 3-2 at nationals, Findlay finishes his stellar sophomore campaign with a 17-4 record.

The ninth-seeded junior 165-pounder Romero too had his second trip to nationals come to a close with a 3-2 record. In his Round of 12 contest against the five-seed Marsteller, Romero dropped a 14-5 major decision to have his 2019 NCAA Championship run cut just short. With Romero trailing just 2-0 after one and 4-2 after two, the 2018 All-American Marsteller went on to put the match away with four takedowns in the final stanza.

After dropping his opening match of the tournament by fall, Romero responded to reel off three must-win matches with victories over No. 25 Cam Coy of Virginia (5-2), No. 10 Branson Ashworth of Wyoming (4-2, SV-1) and two-time All-American Joe Smith of Oklahoma State (7-4) to reach Friday evening's "Blood Round".

Romero, who won UVU's first Big 12 title in program history on the season just two weeks ago, finishes his junior campaign with an impressive 28-5 record.

Four other Wolverines wrestled at the 2019 NCAA Championships for UVU and three of the four too advanced to Friday's second day of competition. Brothers Tanner Orndorff (197) and Tate Orndorff (285) led the way by each going 2-2 at this year's championships, while two-time qualifier and junior Kimball Bastian (174) posted a 1-2 outing, and senior Will Sumner (184) went 0-2 at his first trip to nationals.

The six qualifiers marked a new program record for Utah Valley.

As a team, UVU also sits in a tie for 28th place out of 70 teams with 11.5 total points. If the team standings hold up after Saturday's action is concluded, it would mark UVU's best team finish in program history. Utah Valley's previous record was a 30th-place finish in 2011.

"This is the best performance we have had as a team at nationals in regard to team wins and participants. We have several guys competing at this level and feel very proud of what we are accomplishing. Our guys are disappointed they didn't get on the podium. That should help us next season as we continue to get better. As a program we expect to have All-Americans. We will go back to work in a couple of weeks and work to accomplish those goals," Williams concluded.

The 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will conclude on Saturday. The medal rounds will first take place on Saturday at 9 a.m. MT on ESPNU, while the championship finals will close the event on Saturday at 5 p.m. MT on ESPN.


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