Wolverine Wrestling Opens Season Strong
CLARION, Pa. – The Utah Valley University wrestling team opened the season with a strong showing on Sunday as three Wolverines reached the finals at the Clarion Open in Clarion, Pennsylvania.
Juniors Jade Rauser (133 pound), Chasen Tolbert (125) and Derek Thomas (197) all advanced to the finals at the opening-season tournament. All three grapplers ended up placing second, as they all fell in their respective championship bout.
Rauser, Tolbert and Thomas each won their first four matches on Sunday to reach the finals. Rauser and Thomas both recorded a pair of falls en route to the title bout, as Rauser pinned Brett Himes of Penn State DuBois (1:13) and Clarion's Joel Rosko (1:43) and Thomas pinned both Penn State DuBios' Tige Woodson (2:15) and Dustin Conti of Clarion (5:10). Tolbert earned his way into the finals with a first-period fall, a major decision and a 5-4 upset win over the two-seed from Edinboro Sean Russell in the quarters. Thomas also recorded a come-from-behind overtime victory over the two-seed from Edinboro Vince Pickett in the semis to reach the 197-pound title bout.
In the finals, Rauser dropped a hard fought 6-4 contest to Rutgers' Scott DelVecchio, Tolbert fell to Cleveland State's Ben Willeford by a score of 9-4 and Thomas found himself on the wrong end of a one-point decision (3-2) to the top-seed and 2014 NCAA qualifier from Lehigh, Elliott Riddick.
"Chasen, Jade and Derek all had solid performances and overall I was pleased with how we wrestled," said head coach Greg Williams. "This was a good tournament for us to open the season at, as we were able to get in a number of matches against decent competition."
Ten other Wolverines competed at the tournament and four of them earned three of more victories on the day. Sophomore 157-pounder Logan Addis led the group with a 4-2 record while sophomore Trevor Willson (149), junior Ross Taylor (184) and redshirt freshman Jordan Karst (heavyweight) all went 3-2. Taylor and teammate Abel Gomez both made the consolation semis at 184 pounds and finished just one win shy of placing as they were each eliminated that round.
Gomez, sophomore 149-pounder Jared Harris, freshman Dalton Harmon (165) and senior Ethan Smith (174) all finished the tournament with identical 2-2 records while senior heavyweight Adam Fager went 2-1 before having to withdraw from the tournament after sustaining an injury.
Redshirt freshman Koleton Hardy (157) rounded out UVU's field of 13 wrestlers with a 1-2 record.
"Our number one goal this year is to continue to fight until the match is over. We probably had more come from behind victories today than we did all of last year." added Williams, "I was very pleased with how we fought today and I feel like the guys are really progressing in the third period."
The opening-season tournament featured wrestlers from Bloomsburg, Bucknell, Buffalo, Cal Poly, Clarion, Cleveland State, Edinboro, Lehigh, Lock Haven, Maryland, Mercyhurst, Navy, Pittsburgh, Princeton, Rutgers, UVU, and many others.
The Wolverines will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 8 at the Colorado Mesa Open in Grand Junction, Colorado. Following Saturday's tournament, UVU will head to Boise, Idaho, to face both Iowa State and Boise State in dual action on No. 14.