Rauser NCAA All-American
NEW YORK CITY – Utah Valley University senior Jade Rauser capped his 2016 NCAA Championship journey with an eighth-place finish at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon in New York City to earn All-American honors. With the placement, Rauser becomes just the second Wolverine wrestler in the program's history to achieve such a feat.
"I'm excited that I was able to achieve my goal of becoming an All-American. I can't believe that it's already over," Rauser said. "I knew that it was my last tournament so I decided to really give it my all and go for the gusto. I'm glad that the championships were here in New York City this year and it's awesome that I was able to end my career competing at Madison Square Garden."
Rauser advanced to Saturday's medal round after running off a four-match winning streak during his NCAA Championship run this weekend. Following an opening session loss to the two seed and 2016 NCAA finalist Cory Clark of Iowa, the Townsend, Montana native reeled off four straight victories in the wrestlebacks to secure his All-American status. The 17th-ranked Rauser knocked off two seeded foes during the stretch, with wins over No. 6 George DiCamillo of Virginia (8-6) and No. 9 Mack McGuire of Kent State (5-3). He also defeated 16th-ranked Nathan Kraisser of Campbell (17-4) and 18th-ranked Gary Wayne Harding of Oklahoma State (12-4) all in elimination matches.
Rauser's toughest test during the stretch was in the Round of 12 against the No. 6 seed and three-time NCAA qualifier DiCamillo. With the winner locking up All-American status and the loser going home, the Wolverine senior managed to overcome a 5-0 third-period deficit by scoring eight unanswered points in the final stanza to secure his first All-America honors. UVU's first-ever four-time NCAA qualifier picked up a takedown and a four-point nearfall to take a 6-5 advantage. With DiCamillo holding the riding time advantage and the clock winding down, Rauser then managed to tilt DiCamillo for a two count and a two-point nearfall just as time expired to avoid overtime and knock off the seeded foe by a score of 8-6.
Following the upset win over DiCamillo, Rauser then faced off against the No. 7 seed Eric Montoya of Nebraska on Friday night in a battle for what final placement he would wrestle for on Saturday. The Wolverine 133-pounder then once again looked for a late comeback, but Montoya managed to roll through a late takedown attempt by Rauser to get a two-point takedown of his own to defeat Rauser by a slim 9-6 margin and send the UVU senior to the seventh-place bout.
In Saturday's seventh-place match, Rauser then matched up with a fellow Big 12 Conference foe in the No. 8 seed from Iowa State Earl Hall. Hall was the aggressor in the contest, as he built a quick lead after a trio of nearfalls. The Cyclone grappler went on to take the bout by technical fall (17-1) to end Rauser's 2016 NCAA Championship run with an eighth-place finish.
"I couldn't be more proud or excited for an individual. Jade has put five years of sweat and tears into trying to achieve this dream of his. I know he didn't end those last two matches the way that he would've liked, but he came here to earn All-American status and he did just that," said head coach Greg Williams. "It was just an incredible journey."
Rauser went 4-3 during his fourth and final trip at nationals to finish his senior year with a career best 24-9 record. With the 24-win season, Rauser moves into fifth place in all-time victories at UVU with a 77-32 career record.
By taking eighth and becoming UVU's second All-American in the program's seven-year history as an NCAA Division I postseason eligible program, Rauser joins former 125-pound standout Benjamin Kjar as the only two to accomplish the feat (Kjar placed fourth in 2011).
Fellow Wolverine senior Chasen Tolbert (125 pounds) too competed for UVU at the NCAA Championships but had his 2016 run come to a close on Thursday with a 1-2 record. Following a 6-1 win over Old Dominion's Brandon Jeske in the Pigtails, Tolbert then dropped a pair of bouts to the three-time All-American third-seeded Nico Megaludis of Penn State (18-5) and Sean Fausz of North Carolina State (7-4) to have his season and outstanding collegiate career come to a close. Tolbert, who made his second straight appearance at the NCAA Championships this weekend, finishes his UVU career in the top-10 in all-time victories at Utah Valley with a 65-36 career record.
"The thing that I love about both Chasen and Jade is that it is the process and not the outcome that counts. We don't always get to control the outcome," Williams added. "We're so proud of both of these guys. They are exemplary of what we are looking for as Utah Valley wrestlers. We're just so happy for both of them and what they were able to do."
As a team, the Wolverines will enter Saturday's final session in 38th place out of 72 teams with eighth points. Penn State has locked up its fifth national championship in the past six years as it leads the national tournament with 114 points, while Big 12 member Oklahoma State is in second with 89.5 and Virginia Tech is currently edging out Iowa for third with 82 points.
The 2016 NCAA Championships will conclude on Saturday evening with the championship finals live on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET/6 p.m. MT.
UVU's 2016 NCAA Championship Results
- 133 - Jade Rauser (4-3)
- Champ. Round 1 - #2 Cory Clark (Iowa) over Jade Rauser (UVU), MD 8-0
- Cons. Round 1 - Jade Rauser (UVU) over Gary Wayne Harding (OK State), MD 12-4
- Cons. Round 2 - Jade Rauser (UVU) over Nathan Kraisser (Campbell), MD 17-4
- Cons. Round 3 - Jade Rauser (UVU) over #9 Mack McGuire (Kent State), Dec. 5-3
- Cons. Round of 12 - Jade Rauser (UVU) over #6 George DiCamillo (Virginia), Dec. 8-6
- Cons. Round of 8 - #7 Eric Montoya (Nebraska) over Jade Rauser (UVU), Dec. 9-6
- 7th-Place Match - #8 Earl Hall (Iowa State) over Jade Rauer (UVU), TF 17-1 (2:16)
- 125 - Chasen Tolbert (1-2)
- Champ. Prelims - Chasen Tolbert (UVU) over Brandon Jeske (ODU), Dec. 6-1
- Champ. Round 1 - #3 Nico Megaludis (PSU) over Chasen Tolbert (UVU), MD 18-5
- Cons. Round 1 - Sean Fausz (NC State) over Chasen Tolbert (UVU), Dec. 7-4