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UVU wrestling: Wolverines battle in a 24-13 loss to No. 24 North Dakota State

Junior 125-pounder Chasen Tolbert (top) holds his opponent to the mat. Tolbert upset No. 13 Josh Rodriguez of North Dakota State on Saturday in Fargo.
Junior 125-pounder Chasen Tolbert (top) holds his opponent to the mat. Tolbert upset No. 13 Josh Rodriguez of North Dakota State on Saturday in Fargo.
Mike Smith, UVU Athletics

No. 20 Chasen Tolbert led the way for Utah Valley University on Saturday evening with an upset victory over 13th-ranked Josh Rodriguez in a tightly contested dual between UVU and No. 24 North Dakota State in Western Wrestling Conference action in Fargo.

The ranked Bison (8-3, 4-0 WWC) pulled out the contest by a score of 24-13 despite four Wolverine (2-8, 1-3 WWC) victories on the night.

"Tonight's dual was a step in the right direction. We suffered a tough loss against SDSU the other night, but the guys responded tonight," assistant coach Ethen Lofthouse said. "All of our guys wrestled well here against NDSU. We're proud of the guys for the way they responded from the loss on Friday. Now we need to move forward and build on this."

Tolbert, who entered this week's InterMat poll for the first time in his career after defeating No. 15 Evan Silver of Stanford a week ago, put together an outstanding match against the higher ranked Bison. Trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Wolverine 125-pounder responded with a reversal to tie the contest at 2-2. Tolbert was then the aggressor in the final stanza, as he took the lead on an escape point, and after giving up a penalty point due a questionable stall call, Tolbert then sealed the victory with a last-second takedown to record the upset over Rodriguez.

Tolbert's win comes just days removed from when Rodriguez defeated a pair of higher ranked foes in Wyoming's Tyler Cox and Air Force's Josh Martinez.

"This was a big match for Chasen. Despite facing some adversity, he managed to push through it and come out with the win," Lofthouse said. "This is a big step and we're very proud of him for keeping his composure and wrestling hard for the full seven minutes. It was also big for Jade to get the major decision and put an exclamation mark on the end of his win."

The dual began at 133 pounds, and junior Jade Rauser got the Wolverines off to a solid start with an 11-3 major decision over Kyle Gilva. After NDSU struck back with a win by decision at 141, sophomore Trevor Willson extended the UVU lead to 7-4 with a hard-fought 5-4 decision over Clayton Ream.

The Bison then took the next four bouts to pull ahead at 18-7. Junior Derek Thomas snapped the streak for UVU at 197 with a 3-1 decision over Thomas Peterson to make it 18-10. No. 15 Evan Knutson then sealed the dual for the Bison with a fall over redshirt freshman Jordan Karst at heavyweight before Tolbert concluded the dual with the big win over Rodriguez.

The win marked North Dakota State's seventh-consecutive dual victory.

The Wolverines return home to close their regular season against Northern Colorado next Saturday, Feb. 14. The contest will mark Senior Night for Utah Valley, and three Wolverines will be honored prior to the first match.

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