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UVU wrestling: WWC/West Regional awarded 19 auto qualifier spots for the NCAA Championships

Utah Valley 125-pounder Chasen Tolbert (left) gets his arm raised. Tolbert finds himself ranked 12th on the RPI in his weight class and 17th on the NCAA Coaches' Panel Ranking.
Utah Valley 125-pounder Chasen Tolbert (left) gets his arm raised. Tolbert finds himself ranked 12th on the RPI in his weight class and 17th on the NCAA Coaches' Panel Ranking.
Shane Truskolaski, UVU Athletics

The NCAA recently announced the qualifier allocations for the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, and the Western Wrestling Conference/NCAA West Regional has been awarded 19 spots. The 19 automatic qualifier spots will be on the line at next week's WWC Championships/NCAA West Regional Tournament that will be held in Fargo, North Dakota, on Saturday, March 7.

The NCAA also released the final coaches' panel rankings as well as the rating percentage index for the 2014-15 wrestling season and 23 wrestlers from the WWC made the cut, including two from Utah Valley University. Junior 125-pounder Chasen Tolbert leads the way as he comes in at 12th on the RPI and 17th on the coaches' panel. Fellow junior Jade Rauser (133 pounds) too is in the top 33 nationally in his weight class in rankings as he is 21st on the RPI and 25th on the coaches' panel.

The breakdown of the 19 automatic bids per weight class for the WWC Championships/NCAA West Regional, are as follows: 125 (five), 133 (one), 141 (one), 149 (one), 157 (one), 165 (two), 174 (two), 184 (two), 197 (two) and 285 (two).

The 19 automatic bids for the WWC are up four spots from last season when the conference received 15 automatic qualifying spots. The league later received four additional at-large selections a year ago to send a total 19 wrestlers to the 2014 NCAA Championships.

The Western Wrestling Conference, which is in its ninth year of competition, is comprised of six schools including the Air Force Academy, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, South Dakota State, Utah Valley and Wyoming.

This year's NCAA West Regional Tournament/WWC Championships will be held at North Dakota State's Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse in Fargo on March 7. The three-day NCAA Championships then take place March 19-21, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage at the weight class, rating percentage index and coaches ranking.

For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class. Each qualifying tournament, with automatic qualifying status, was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which will go to the tournament champion, even if they did not have any wrestlers reach at least two of the three thresholds. NCAA tournament spots for each qualifying event will be awarded at the tournament based solely on place finish.

After all the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in person to select the remaining 70 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced March 11. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition, qualifying event placement, quality wins, results against common opponents, winning percentage, RPI, coaches ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class.

The following is the list of WWC wrestlers that were named to the final coaches' panel rankings, as well as the RPI.

Of the 23 wrestlers ranked from the WWC, Wyoming led the way with eight of its grapplers listed, while NDSU had six and Northern Colorado added three.

125 – Tyler Cox (Wyoming) 11th/11th

125 – Chasen Tolbert (Utah Valley) 12th/17th

125 – Josh Rodriguez (North Dakota St.) 14th/16th

125 – Josh Martinez (Air Force) 18th/15th

125 – Trey Andrews (Northern Colorado) 25th/24th

133 – Jade Rauser (Utah Valley) 21st/25th

141 – Mitchell Bengtson (North Dakota St.) 33rd/29th

149 – Clayton Ream (North Dakota St.) 24th/NR

149 – Jake Elliott (Wyoming) 30th/33rd

157 – Cody Pack (South Dakota St.) 10th/6th

157 – Archie Colgan (Wyoming) 28th/NR

165 – Jesse Stafford (Air Force) 16th/16th

165 – Dakota Friesth (Wyoming) 29th/22nd

165 – Mitchell Polkowske (Northern Colorado) NR/25th

174 – Andy McCulley (Wyoming) 12th/14th

174 – Kurtis Julson (North Dakota St.) 21st/26th

184 – Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota St.) 9th/8th

184 – Ben Stroh (Wyoming) 17th/18th

197 – Shane Woods (Wyoming) 12th/14th

197 – Trent Noon (Northern Colorado) 25th/NR

197 – Nathan Rotert (South Dakota St.) 29th/27th

285 – Tanner Harms (Wyoming) 15th/22nd

285 – Evan Knutson (North Dakota St.) 18th/13th

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.