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UVU wrestling: Wolverines head to Dakotas for Big 12 duals at NDSU and SDSU

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Utah Valley junior Jarod Maynes (right) gets his arm raised by the official following his victory over Wyoming's Gunnar Woodburn on Jan. 28, in Orem. Maynes enters this weekend's duals with a 10-12 overall record on the season.

Utah Valley junior Jarod Maynes (right) gets his arm raised by the official following his victory over Wyoming’s Gunnar Woodburn on Jan. 28, in Orem. Maynes enters this weekend’s duals with a 10-12 overall record on the season.

Chandler Gubler, UVU Athletics

After spending the past month at home, the Utah Valley University wrestling team heads to the Dakotas for a pair of tough Big 12 Conference dual meets at No. 23 North Dakota State and No. 19 South Dakota State. The Wolverines first face NDSU on Friday at 6 p.m. MT, in Fargo, North Dakota, before closing the trip at SDSU on Saturday at 6 p.m., in Brookings, South Dakota.

Live video will be streamed for both contests, as fans can catch the North Dakota State dual on the Bison's website and Saturday's against the Jackrabbits on FloWrestling (subscription required). Live results will also be available for both duals by visiting TrackWrestling.

UVU enters the trip with a 4-3 overall record and a 1-1 ledger in Big 12 Conference action. After pulling out tightly contested dual meets against Air Force (18-15) and CSU Bakersfield (21-17), the Wolverines dropped a hard-fought decision to Wyoming by a mere point last week (17-16). Despite splitting the contest at five matches apiece and winning the final two bouts to end in a 16-16 tie, criteria was the difference as the Cowboys received an extra team point thanks to holding a 42-37 individual match point edge to break the tie.

Jarod Maynes (133 pounds), Kimball Bastian (174), Will Sumner (184), Tanner Orndorff (197) and Dustin Dennison (heavyweight) won their respective matches against Wyoming to help the Wolverines nearly knock off the wrestling power Cowboys for the first time since 2006. With the contest starting off at 197 pounds, Orndorff, Dennison and Maynes gave UVU an early 10-3 lead. After four-straight wins by Wyoming, Bastian and Sumner then pulled out must-win matches in the final two bouts of the night to tie the team score at 16-all before the additional team point was awarded to the Cowboys via criteria.

After going 2-1 during the month-long homestand, the Wolverines now hold a 3-1 record at Lockhart Arena and are looking to finish the year with a .500 or better record overall for the first time since 2012-13 when they went 6-4.

Orndorff, who was UVU's lone grappler to win by major decision last weekend versus Wyoming, enter this weekend's duals ranked 24th in his weight class as well as holding one of the best win-loss records on the team with an 18-10 clip. Heavyweights Jordan Karst and Dustin Dennison top the team with respective 21-5 and 18-6 respective records, while Bastian is 17-9 on the year and ranked 31st in his weight class.

All three ranked in mid-major poll

Not only are NDSU and SDSU ranked 23rd and 19th, respectively, in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches' Poll, but they along with UVU are also ranked in the NWCA Mid-Major Poll. The Jacks come in at No. 5 on the poll, while the Bison are seventh and the Wolverines are 20th.

About North Dakota State

The 23rd-ranked Bison are 12-3 overall and 2-1 in Big 12 Conference duals on the season. NDSU most recently defeated CSU Bakersfield (32-8) and Cal Poly (30-6) in California last weekend and also holds wins over a pair of ranked foes in the then No. 14 Iowa State Cyclones (25-16) and No. 24 Virginia Cavaliers (27-13). North Dakota State enters Friday's meeting having won 11 of its last 13 duals.

Five Bison enter Friday's contest ranked in the latest NCAA Coaches' Panel rankings. Two-time NCAA qualifier and fourth-ranked Josh Rodriguez (17-1) leads the way at 125 pounds, while fellow two-time NCAA qualifier Clay Ream (18-3) comes in at No. 8 at 157, Andrew Fogarty (19-6) is 20th at 165 and 133-pounder Cam Sykora (10-2) and heavyweight Ben Tynan (14-3) are 25th.

All-time series vs. NDSU

Friday's contest against North Dakota State will mark the 11th all-time meeting in series history between the Wolverines and Bison. NDSU enters the match holding to a 9-1 series lead. UVU's lone win came on Feb. 7, 2009, when the Wolverines edged the Bison by a score of 18-15 in Fargo.

About South Dakota State

The 19th-ranked Jackrabbits are 10-3 on the season and in second place in the Big 12 standings with a 4-1 conference mark. South Dakota State will first host No. 15 Oklahoma on Friday before welcoming the Wolverines to town on Saturday. SDSU has won 10 of its last 11 duals. Its lone loss during the streak came to the top-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys two weeks ago in Stillwater.

Five Jacks are also currently ranked, and sophomore 133-pounder and 2016 NCAA qualifier Seth Gross (21-1) leads the group as he comes in as the second-ranked grappler in the nation. Fellow former NCAA qualifiers Nate Rotert (16-3), David Kocer (16-5) and Alex Kocer (20-5) are next as they are currently ranked No. 7 at 197, No. 15 at 174 and No. 19 at 149 by InterMat, respectively, while Luke Zilverberg (17-5) comes in at 17th at 165 on the latest NCAA Coaches' Panel ranking.

All-time series vs. SDSU

Saturday's matchup will mark the 12th all-time meeting between UVU and SDSU. The Wolverines enter the contest holding to an 8-3 series lead, despite the fact that South Dakota State has won the past two meetings.

Up next for UVU

Utah Valley will return home for its final two home duals of the season next weekend when it welcomes No. 22 Stanford to town on Friday, Feb. 10, and Big 12 foe Northern Colorado on Saturday, Feb. 11. The Stanford dual begins at 7 p.m., and will be televised locally on UVU TV, while Saturday's regular season finale against the UNC Bears begins at 3 p.m.

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