On the heels of a difficult stretch in Big 12 conference competition, the Utah Valley wrestling team played host to the North Dakota State Bison on Monday, Feb. 3 at Lockhart Arena.
Despite their 1-9 team record entering the dual, the Wolverines have four wrestlers ranked in the national top-25, with sophomore Tate Orndorff ranked fourth in the heavyweight division. The team suffered their 10th loss of the season in a 20-15 contest, but UVU’s ranked wrestlers continued their dominant seasons as all four won their respective matches.
UVU’s biggest victory came early in the evening as 14th-ranked junior Taylor LaMont went toe to toe with NDSU’s seventh-ranked senior, Cam Sykora. LaMont took a 2-1 lead with under 30 seconds left in the third period to squeak out the upset. It was LaMont’s second win against a top-10 opponent this season.
The Bison took advantage of UVU’s younger wrestlers to take an insurmountable lead. Freshman Jerry Rubio and junior Koy Wilkinson lost consecutive matches on technical falls, while sophomore Ashton Seely lost a decision which put NDSU ahead 20-9 with only two matches left. Rubio and Wilkinson both faced ranked opponents and showed a lot of effort despite being overmatched.
Tate Orndorff and his brother, 20th-ranked senior Tanner Orndorff, capped off the dual with back-to-back victories against ranked opponents. Following a challenge by NDSU, Tate Orndorff trailed 1-3 late in the third period but tied the match at three with only ten seconds left. He won after executing a quick takedown less than 20 seconds into overtime.
Neither of the final match wins was enough to put UVU in striking distance of NDSU, but the Wolverines demonstrated the talent they have at certain positions. UVU lost a couple of matches by less than three points and seemed more than capable of winning the dual if things had gone differently. Against a team of NDSU’s caliber, keeping the score close felt like a step in the right direction for this young group of Wolverine wrestlers.
The Wolverines will have almost two weeks to prepare for their next matchup when they host Northern Colorado on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m. MST in the Lockhart Arena.
Photo by Hunter Hall
Bridger Beal-Cvetko is a junior at Utah Valley University where he is studying journalism. He has been with The Review since 2019, where he has covered the UVU men’s basketball team and the softball team during his time as Sports Editor. Bridger has also worked as a producer for ESPN 960 AM. Aside from sports, Bridger is an ardent cinephile, and loves reading fantasy and science fiction novels.