OREM — It didn’t take long for Jade Rauser to make it official that he was going back to the NCAA Wrestling Championships for a fourth straight time. In the third-place match, the UVU senior pinned 21st-ranked Gary Wayne Harding of Oklahoma State with 44 second left in the first period to place third at the 2016 Big 12 Championship and clinch his spot for the fourth time of his career.
“Jade has really wrestled well the second half of the year. He’s taken care of some injuries and is starting to feel good out on the mat,” head coach Greg Williams said in a statement to UVU Athletics. “He truly dictated a couple of those last matches here against guys in the top-20 and we’re super pleased with his outcome.”
Rauser took the tough way to earning his spot at the NCAA’s as he had to go through the consolation bracket. He faced off against Josh Martinez of Air Force in his first match Sunday and got some revenge from an earlier match between the two competitors. Martinez defeated Rauser on Feb. 11 in the Air Force-UVU dual meet in Colorado Springs. But Rauser earned the 10-6 victory in the consolation semis to set the stage for his third place finish.
UVU also had four other wrestlers finish in the top six at their first-ever trip to the Big 12 Championships. Derek Thomas (197) and Ross Taylor (174) both placed fifth. Heavyweight Dustin Dennison finished fourth and senior Chasen Tolbert finished sixth. It was a disappointing end for Tolbert as he lost the fifth place match by injury default and then had to take a medical forfeit in the true sixth-place match that was to determine an automatic bid to nationals.
Tolbert and Thomas will now have to sit back and wait to see if they receive an at-large berth to the 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
UVU finished in eighth place with 60.5 points. Oklahoma State took home the team title with 161 points, followed by Oklahoma (100), Iowa State (87), South Dakota State (77), Wyoming (71.5), West Virginia (65.5), and North Dakota State (62.5). Air Force finished ninth with 39.5 points and Northern Colorado finished 10th with 30.5 points.
“The Big 12 Championship is bigger and better, and allows our wrestlers to compete against a higher level of competition,” added Williams in a statement to UVU Athletics. “The treatment here in Kansas City has been amazing and this is a competitive conference that will keep getting better. Overall I was really proud of the guys for the effort that they put in this weekend. This team fought all year to improve and we’re going to continue to get better.”
Tolbert and Thomas will learn their fate on Wednesday, March 9 when the at-large selections for the NCAA Championships are announced.
The 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships take place March 17-19 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
You can find the results for the Big 12 Championships by clicking here.
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