At the conclusion of the Big 12 wrestling tournament on Sunday afternoon, three Wolverine grapplers earned podium spots as UVU finished ninth overall as a team in its second year in the conference. Redshirt freshmen Grant LaMont (149 pounds) and Kimball Bastian (174 pounds) each finished sixth in their respective weight classes, and junior heavyweight Dustin Dennison earned a second place finish.
After winning his first two matches, Dennison became the first Wolverine wrestler to ever compete in a Big 12 title match. Despite falling to Oklahoma State’s Austin Schafer in the championship match, Dennison recorded the highest conference placement in Utah Valley’s brief history as a member of the Big 12. With the second place finish, Dennison also punched his ticket to the NCAA Tournament later this month.
“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 in a statement to WolverineGreen.com.
History was made at this year’s tournament as No. 2 ranked Oklahoma State sent all ten of its wrestlers to the title bouts of their respective weight classes, marking the first time in conference history one school has had a representative in every championship match.
OSU also finished first overall with 176.5 team points, while Oklahoma placed second (93.5), South Dakota State third (90.5), North Dakota State fourth (82.5), Wyoming fifth (71.5), Iowa State sixth (65), Northern Colorado seventh (48.5), West Virginia eighth (48), UVU ninth (32) and Air Force 10th (28).
With Dennison already guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament, at least two other Wolverines are hopeful to receive at-large bids as Bastian and Tanner Orndorff each finished the season nationally ranked.
The 2017 NCAA wrestling tournament will be held in St. Louis, Missouri at the Scottrade Center from March 16-18.