Dennison leading young team to early success

After winning most of his matches so far on the season, including winning his weight class at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open by pinning No. 12 ranked Colin Jensen of Nebraska, junior heavyweight Dustin Dennison is a big part of what UVU’s wrestling team is doing this season. Dennison has big goals, despite playing in a difficult weight class.

“I’m not sure where I’m going to end up. My weight [class] is really stacked,” said Dennison. “I’m really working hard to get on the podium and be an All-American this year. I’m working for the ultimate goal.”

Big wins and big goals are exactly what UVU needs right now. After the win over Cal State Bakersfield on Jan. 19, the team was 4-2 in dual meets on the season, with an undefeated home record and an undefeated conference record. At 4-2, UVU has already matched last season’s win total. It’s the best start since the 2009-10 season when UVU started 5-1

“As a team, we’re doing really well. We’re competing against some great teams,” said Dennison. “[E]veryone’s working really hard and competing in the room.”
The team is playing better as a unit and winning more matches despite losing stars Jade Rauser, Chasen Tolbert, and Derek Thomas to graduation last season. There are only six upperclassmen on the entire roster, and only one of them, Trevor Wilson, is a senior.

“I feel like being an upperclassman is important. I feel like some of the younger guys can look to me or other upperclassmen; there’s only a couple of us,” said Denison. “As far as leadership goes, [underclassmen] know me, or Jarod [Maynes] or Trevor have been around a little longer, so if there’s something they need to talk to about, they know they can talk to us.”

Despite youth, Denison has an idea of why the team is stepping up.

“We’re all able to look to each other, instead of just looking to a single person,” he said. “Last year we had Jade or Chasen because they had phenomenal success. This year we feel like we’re all pretty equal, so we can all look to one another. I think that’s really cool. I like our team dynamic a lot.”

The UVU wrestling team is on pace to have the highest win total since 2009-10, and with upperclassmen like Dennison, it’s in good hands.

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