UVU's Dennison Runner Up at Big 12 Championships
TULSA, Okla. - Utah Valley University's Dustin Dennison became UVU's first-ever grappler to wrestle for the Big 12 Championship on Sunday afternoon as he competed for conference's heavyweight title bout on Sunday at the BOK Center in Tulsa. Despite finding himself on the wrong end of a 9-0 decision to the top seed from Oklahoma State Austin Schafer, Dennison records the Wolverines' highest-ever placement at the tournament by posting a second-place finish.
The Wolverine junior heavyweight also secured an automatic bid to his first trip to nationals in the process, as he will represent Utah Valley University at the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
"We are excited for Dustin's success this weekend. It is a great opportunity for him to compete at the NCAA tournament. He's earned it through a lot of determination and hard work," head coach Greg Williams said. "Hopefully, Tanner (Orndorff) and Kimball (Bastian) get good looks for a wild card as well. They both have good resumes for the season."
After a scoreless opening period in the title match, the top-seeded and sixth-ranked Schafer of Oklahoma State got things going with an escape followed by a takedown to take a 3-0 lead. The top-10 ranked Schafer then put the match away in the final stanza with a takedown, two-point nearfall, penalty point and riding time to take the title bout by a score of 9-0.
Dennison became UVU's first-ever Big 12 Championship finalist after earning a pair of victories on Saturday. A year removed from placing fourth at the same tournament, the third-seeded and 26th-ranked Wolverine opened his second trip to the Big 12 Championships with a 5-3 victory over sixth-seeded Brandon Tribble of Wyoming in the quarterfinals. Dennison then followed that up with a 6-0 upset win over the three-time NCAA qualifier and No. 2 seed Ross Larson of Oklahoma in the semis to reach the finals. The Utah Valley heavyweight scored all six of his points in the opening period against Larson, as he recorded a takedown and a four-point nearfall over the 18th-ranked Sooner.
With the 2-1 outing, Dennison now holds a team-best 22-8 record on the year and earns his first trip to the NCAA Championships with his second-place finish. The second-place finish also marks UVU's top finish at the tournament, as 2016 All-American Jade Rauser previously held the mark by placing third in at 133 pounds a season ago.
Two other Wolverines earned podium finishes at the 2017 Big 12 Championships, as redshirt freshmen Grant LaMont (149 pounds) and Kimball Bastian (174) each wrestled their way to a sixth-place finish during Sunday morning's third session. After each going 1-1 on Saturday to enter the consolation semifinals on Sunday, the pair of Wolverine grapplers both dropped their two matches on the day to finish the tournament in sixth place with identical 1-3 records.
After earning a first-period fall over two-time NCAA qualifier Gabe Moreno of Iowa State on Saturday evening, the fifth-seeded LaMont advanced to Sunday's action. The Wolverine 149-pounder then dropped a tightly contested 13-11 overtime contest to the two-time NCAA qualifier and two seed from South Dakota State Alex Kocer to enter the fifth-place match. LaMont then had his tournament come to a close with a 7-3 setback to the six seed from Air Force Jerry McGinty to end his first Big 12 Championship run with a sixth-place finish.
After picking up a 5-2 victory over the No. 8 seed from North Dakota State Dylan Urbach on Saturday, the fourth-seeded Bastian moved on to Sunday as well. The Wolverine 174-pounder then opened his Sunday action with a 7-5 setback in the consolation semis to the 2016 All-American and third-seeded Lelund Weatherspoon of Iowa State to enter the fifth-place match. The 29th-ranked Bastian then dropped a hard fought 4-3 decision to the No. 6 six from Wyoming Kyle Pope to end his inaugural Big 12 Championship outing with a sixth-place finish.
Seven other Wolverines too competed for UVU at the tournament and all seven had their Big 12 Championship runs come to a close during the tournament's first day of action on Saturday. Mitch Brown (125) and Raider Lofthouse (157) led the group by each going 2-2, while Koy Wilkinson (165) finished with a 1-2 showing, and Jarod Maynes (133), Trevor Willson (141), Abel Gomez (184) and Tanner Orndorff (197) all ended their 2017 Big 12 Championship runs with identical 0-2 records.
As a team, the Wolverines ended their 2017 Big 12 Championship in ninth place with 32 points. The second-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys won their fifth straight Big 12 Championship title with 164.5 points, while No. 18 Oklahoma placed second (93.5) and No. 19 South Dakota State took third (90.5). North Dakota State finished fourth (82.5), Wyoming fifth (71.5), Iowa State sixth (65), Northern Colorado seventh (48.5), West Virginia eighth (48) and Air Force 10th (28).
With his second-place finish, Dennison is UVU's lone grappler to earn an automatic bid to nationals. Bastian and Orndorff, who are each currently ranked in both the latest NCAA Coaches' Poll and RPI, will hope to hear their names called when the NCAA Championships releases its at-large selections to this year's tournament in the coming days.
The 2017 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will run March 16-18 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. A year ago, UVU crowned its second All-American in program history when the departed senior Rauser placed eighth at 133 pounds.
UVU's NCAA Championship Automatic Qualifiers
- 285 - Dustin Dennison (2nd Place)
UVU's Big 12 Championships Results
- 285 - Dustin Dennison (2-1) - 2nd Place
- #3 Dustin Dennison (UVU) Dec. #6 Brandon Tribble (WYO), 5-3
- #3 Dustin Dennison (UVU) Dec. #2 Ross Larson (OU), 6-0
- 1st-Place Match: #1 Austin Schafer (OSU) MD #3 Dustin Dennison (UVU), 9-0
- 149 - Grant LaMont (1-3) - 6th Place
- #4 Cole Mendenhall (WYO) Dec. #5 Grant LaMont (UVU), 4-3
- #10 Gabe Moreno (ISU) Fall #5 Grant LaMont (UVU), 1:07
- #2 Alex Kocer (SDSU) Dec. #5Grant LaMont (UVU), 13-11 (SV-1)
- 5th-Place Match: #6 Jerry McGinty (AF) Dec. #5 Grant LaMont (UVU), 7-3
- 174 - Kimball Bastian (1-3) - 6th Place
- #5 Matt Reed (OU) Dec. #4 Kimball Bastian (UVU), 6-4
- #4 Kimball Bastian (UVU) Dec. #8 Dylan Urbach (NDSU), 5-2
- #3 Lelund Weatherspoon (ISU) Dec. #4 Kimball Bastian (UVU), 7-5
- 5th-Place Match: #6 Kyle Pope (WYO) Dec. #4 Kimball Bastian (UVU), 4-3
- 125 - Mitch Brown (2-2)
- #8 Mitch Brown (UVU) Dec. #9 Drew Romero (AF), 5-3
- #1 Josh Rodriguez (NDSU) Fall #8 Mitch Brown (UVU), 5:25
- #8 Mitch Brown (UVU) MD #10 Devin Brown (WVU), 16-6
- #5 Kyle Larson (ISU) MD #8 Mitch Brown (UVU), 11-2
- 133 - Jarod Maynes (0-2)
- #9 Jacob Rubio (OU) Dec. #8 Jarod Maynes (UVU), 3-1
- #7 Dylan Hyder (AF) Dec. #8 Jarod Maynes (UVU), 10-4
- 141 - Trevor Willson (0-2)
- #3 Mike Longo (OU) Dec. #6 Trevor Willson (UVU), 7-4
- #7 Joe Wheeling (WVU) Dec. #6 Trevor Willson (UVU), 7-3
- 157 - Raider Lofthouse (2-2)
- #8 Raider Lofthouse (UVU) Dec. #9 Jimmy Fate (NC), 9-2
- #1 Joe Smith (OSU) TF #8 Raider Lofthouse (UVU), 16-0
- #8 Raider Lofthouse (UVU) Fall #10 Dayton Garrett (WVU), 1:47
- #5 Alex Mossing (AF) Dec. #8 Raider Lofthouse (UVU), 4-3
- 165 - Koy Wilkinson (1-2)
- #8 Keilan Torres (NC) Fall #9 Koy Wilkinson (UVU), 2:58
- #9 Koy Wilkinson (UVU) Dec. #10 Logan Breitenback (ISU), 7-3
- #3 Branson Ashworth (WYO) MD #9 Koy Wilkinson (UVU), 11-2
- 184 - Abel Gomez (0-2)
- #7 Lucas Lovvorn (WYO) Dec. #10 Abel Gomez (UVU), 4-2 (SV-1)
- #8 Andrew Dixon (OU) TF #10 Abel Gomez (UVU), 16-0
- 197 - Tanner Orndorff (0-2)
- #3 Preston Weigel (OSU) TF #6 Tanner Orndorff (UVU), 15-0
- #7 Cordell Eaton (NDSU) MD #6 Tanner Orndorff (UVU), 11-3