2021 NCAA All-American Taylor LaMont (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Utah Valley Wolverines
Hopes are high at Utah Valley as the school is coming off a 21st place finish at the 2021 NCAA Championships with 21.5 points and two All-Americans. Not only did those AA's return, but three other Wolverine wrestlers earned spots in InterMat's preseason rankings.
For the first time in their short history, Utah Valley saw two of their wrestlers earn spots on the NCAA podium in the same year with Taylor LaMont (5th at 125) and Demetrius Romero (6th at 174). Both will return, which will allow the Wolverines to have past All-Americans in the lineup for the first time. Their previous NCAA All-Americans were both seniors and NWCA AA Tate Orndorff transferred to Ohio State.
The pair both made the NCAA semifinals in 2021 and will be contenders at their respective weights. LaMont will be back at 125, while Romero drops down to 165. Before NCAA's, Romero captured his second conference title, making him the first and second UVU wrestler to win the Big 12.
Utah Valley doesn't have any notable departures; however, they will be without the services of their 149 lber Cameron Hunsaker. Hunsaker is injured and has already been ruled out for the year. Look for freshman Jaxon Garoutte to hold down the fort in Hunsaker's absence. The Utah Valley staff was impressed with Garoutte in 2021, who went 5-2 before suffering an injury himself. Garoutte has reportedly looked good in preseason workouts.
The most immediate impact from new faces in the UVU room will come from their three transfers, Haiden Drury (133 - Fresno State), Hunter Cruz (184 - Fresno State), and Evan Bockman (197 - Cal Baptist). Drury (#31) and Cruz (#32) started the year in the national rankings. Bockman will contend for the starting role at 197 lbs.
Looking at the long term, Yusief Lillie (WA) was the most notable signee for head coach Greg Williams' team. Lillie was a seven-time All-American in Fargo. He projects as a 125 lber, so he'll get to redshirt behind LaMont.
WRESTLER TO WATCH
Williams and his staff believe that Danny Snediker could have a breakout year if he's able to main the 157 lb weight class. Snediker went 10-6 overall and finished seventh in the Big 12.
Replacing Romero at 174 lbs will be Kekana Fouret. He and Romero will flip-flop in the lineup, as Fouret was at 165 last year and went 6-4. Most of Fouret's experience came in â€œextraâ€ matches, though he was 3-1 in dual meet action.
125: #8 Taylor LaMont (Jr)
133: #31 Haiden Drury (Fr)
141: #31 Ty Smith (Fr)
149: Jaxon Garoutte (Fr)
157: Danny Snediker (Fr)
165: #8 Demetrius Romero (Sr)
174: Kekana Fouret (Fr)
184: #32 Hunter Cruz (So)/Jacob Armstrong (So)
197: Evan Bockman (So)/Ashton Seely (Jr)
285: Chase Trussell (So)/Jayden Woodruff (So)