Wrestler Jade Rauser looks for nationals, All-American in final season
Brad Curnow | Sports Writer | @jojocornrow
Utah Valley University has had one wrestler reach the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships three times in his career. This season, Jade Rauser is making his fourth run at Nationals with a determination to win his weight class. His experience and high expectations for himself keeps his mind in the right place.
“I’ve always had the expectation of myself to go to nationals,” Rauser said.
Rauser, a senior from Montana, came to UVU as a standout high school wrestler who finished with an undefeated 175-0 record. He received offers from multiple schools that offered bigger stages with brighter lights than what UVU could offer at the time.
“Utah Valley has a good connection when it comes to teammates,” Rauser said about choosing UVU over other schools. “The other places I went on recruiting trips to, half the time it seemed like they hated each other because they were fighting for spots. That’s not what it is here.”
Since coming to UVU, Rauser improved his standing in the Western Wrestling Conference in each of his three seasons and eventually earned the honor of First Team All-WWC last season after dominating conference opponents.
“I beat every kid in the conference,” Rauser said of his junior season. “Nobody came close to beating me. I pinned my kid in the finals.”
Rauser is confident in his ability to reach Nationals again. After wrestling his freshman and sophomore seasons in the 125-pound weight class, Rauser moved up to the 133-pound division as a junior, where he feels he fits better and is more confident.
“Cutting down to 125 was horrible, I hated it,” Rauser said. “133 was a better fit for me, I felt better.”
Despite reaching Nationals each year as a UVU wrestler, Rauser has never been able to get over the hump and earn the title of All-American; something he hopes to achieve this season.
“Every year I have the expectation to get that All-Aamerican, but I’ve always come short. ,” Rauser said. “I’ve never made it past the third round.”
He defeated 2014 All-American and No. 10 seed Mason Beckman of Lehigh in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. He then lost to 7th-ranked Jimmy Gulibon and 9th-ranked A.J. Schopp to end his chance at becoming an All-American.
Based on his past performances at Nationals, Rauser knows that he will face the best the country has to offer and that his experience will pay off in the end.
“I’ve had tough kids every year,” Rauser said. “But I’ve had kids I shouldn’t have lost to.”
This season looks to be different for Rauser as he aims to wrestle his way to a fourth consecutive trip to nationals. With UVU’s addition into the Big 12 Conference as a wrestling affiliate, Rauser’s road has gotten exponentially difficult.
“I’ll wrestle the best kid in the country,” Rauser said. “He’s in my weight class at our Big 12 [Tournament].”
In preparation for his final season and final run at the title of All-American, Rauser knows that it will take hard work and great preparation to compete at the highest level.
“Just got to believe in myself,” Rauser said. “Practice, make sure I’m mentally prepared and physically prepared.”
Rauser has shown why he feels better. After dominating the WWC at 133-pounds and making a third trip to the National Tournament, Jade Rauser has the fortitude to make his fourth run at nationals and finally earn the title of All-American.
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