The Utah Valley University wrestling team welcomes Pac-12 foe Oregon State to town on Thursday, Dec. 15, for its 2016-17 home opener. The Big 12 versus Pac-12 dual meet begins at 7 p.m., at UVU's newly named and renovated Lockhart Arena.
Following Thursday's home opener, the Wolverines hit the road for the 22nd annual Reno Tournament of Champions that will be contested on Sunday, Dec. 18, at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada. The one-day tournament begins at 10 a.m. MT, and will conclude with the championship finals at 7 p.m.
The Wolverines enter Thursday's dual meet with a 1-2 overall record (0-0 Big 12) after dropping a 32-14 contest at fellow Pac-12 foe Boise State last weekend. UVU won just three of the 10 bouts on the night to fall to the Broncos.
Junior Dustin Dennison (heavyweight) and redshirt sophomore Mitch Brown (125 pounds) led the way for UVU against Boise State by each winning their respective matches by bonus points. Dennison pinned BSU's Gabriel Gonzalez in just 1:09, while Brown followed with a 22-7 technical fall victory over Will Bardezbain. Redshirt freshman 149-pounder Grant LaMont capped UVU's winning ways against the Broncos with a hard-fought 10-7 decision over Dakota Wall.
Dennison earned Big 12 Conference Co-Wrestler of the Week honors for the first time of his career on Monday after picking up his first-period fall over Gonzalez. The victory not only marked Dennison's ninth of the season, as he improved to 9-3 overall and 2-1 in dual action, but also his fourth by fall.
Redshirt freshman 174-pounder Kimball Bastian leads UVU on the season with a 12-7 record, while junior Jordan Karst (heavyweight), sophomore Raider Lofthouse (157) and fellow redshirt freshman Tanner Orndorff enter Thursday's action with respective 11-2, 11-4 and 11-8 records. And the 125-pound Brown is the lone Wolverine to enter Thursday's action with an unblemished 3-0 dual record (10-5 overall).
About Oregon State
The Beavers, who are just outside the USA Today/NWCA Division I Top 25 poll and currently ranked 23rd by InterMat, are off to a 1-2 start to the season (0-0 Pac-12). OSU holds its victory on the year over Duke (22-20) and has suffered setbacks to Appalachian State (15-25) and No. 11 Michigan (7-38). Oregon State enters Thursday's dual off a 16th-place finish out of 35 teams at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 2-3, with two placewinners and 34 total points. Senior Joey Delgado (149) and sophomore Corey Griego (197) led the way by both placing fifth at the renowned tournament.
Three Beavers enter Thursday's contest nationally ranked in the latest top-20 polls, as 2016 NCAA qualifier Griego is ranked 14th at 197 (InterMat), two-time NCAA qualifier Delgado is 19th at 149 (InterMat) and fellow two-time NCAA qualifier Joey Palmer also comes in at 19th at 141 pounds (FloWrestling). Delgado enters the match with a 7-3 season record, while Griego holds a 7-4 clip and Palmer a 5-2 ledger. As a team, the Beavers won their fifth-straight Pac-12 Championship a season ago.
All-time series vs. Oregon State
Oregon State enters Thursday's contest holding to a slim 2-1 all-time series lead over UVU, but the Wolverines are coming off a 20-19 upset victory over the then 18th-ranked Beavers in Corvallis last season (Nov. 21, 2015). Both teams won five bouts apiece last season, but upset wins from departed seniors Chasen Tolbert and Derek Thomas along with bonus-point wins from Thomas, Ross Taylor and Lofthouse were the difference in the contest, as the Wolverines managed to record the one-point victory over the nationally ranked Beavers.
About the Reno Tournament of Champions
Utah Valley will be one of 26 teams to compete at Sunday's Reno Tournament of Champions that is dubbed as the "Toughest Tournament in the USA." Wrestlers from UVU, OSU, No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 2 Penn State, No. 5 Missouri, No. 16 Stanford, No. 19 Arizona State, Boise State, Campbell, Cal Poly, CSU Bakersfield, Michigan State, Northern Colorado and Wyoming are all scheduled to compete as well as grapplers from smaller division foes CSU Pueblo, Clackamas, Colorado Mesa, Eastern Oregon, Gateway Bible College, Menlo, Montana State-Northern, Pacific University, Simon Frasier, Simpson, Southern Oregon and Southwestern Oregon.
Departed senior Chasen Tolbert (125) led UVU at last year's RTOC by placing sixth in his weight class. Junior 133-pounder Jarod Maynes was next by going 3-2, while Dennison, Karst and senior 141-pounder Trevor Willson all compiled 2-2 records.
Up next for Utah Valley
Following Sunday's RTOC, UVU is off until Jan. 1-2, when it will ring in the new year at the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The 2017 Southern Scuffle will be contested at UT Chattanooga's McKenzie Arena and begin at 8 a.m. MT, on New Year's Day.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.