OREM, Utah -- Utah Valley University wrestling snapped its losing streak with a 20-16 Big 12 Conference victory over Northern Colorado on Friday night at Lockhart Arena.
The Wolverines (2-10, 1-7 Big 12) and Bears (2-7, 1-5 Big 12) split the contest at five wins apiece, but bonus points proved to be the difference as UVU got a pin from freshman Kainalu Estrella (141 pounds) as well as major decisions from seniors Kimball Bastian (174) and Tanner Orndorff (197), and another key win from Taylor LaMont (133) over a top-20 opponent in the final match of the night to seal the win for the Wolverines.
The contest marked Senior Night for UVU, as the Wolverines honored senior Bastian, Tanner Orndorff, Grant LaMont, and Landon Knutzen prior to the match.
"We've focused the last couple of weeks on attitude, to make sure that every guy on this team fights and has a championship attitude, and I thought that we showed that tonight," head UVU coach Greg Williams said. "Chip (Kainalu) was inspirational for us. To go out and pin a tough opponent like that was huge and I'm very proud of him for going out doing exactly what we wanted him to do.
"I was also pleased with how our seniors wrestled -- with Kimball and Tanner both picking up extra points for us -- as well as how Taylor was able to make a great adjustment to beat another top-20 opponent tonight."
Filling in for UVU on the night and in his first dual match of his collegiate career, 141-pound redshirt freshman Estrella got the Wolverines off to a strong start by coming through with a second period fall over UNC's Brody Lamb to give UVU a 6-0 advantage. With the Hawaii native Estrella holding to an 8-5 lead in the second, the Wolverine redshirt freshman put the match away with a throw and a quick pin (4:41) to give UVU the early lead.
The Bears then answered back with a trio of consecutive wins by decision from No. 10 Andrew Alirez (149), Jimmy Fate (157) and No. 31 Austin Matthews (165) to take a 9-6 advantage in the team score. Both Jed Loveless (157) and Koy Wilkinson (165) attempted to make a couple of late comebacks in their bouts, but in the end their opponents managed to hold on to record respective 5-3 and 9-7 decisions.
In his final home match of his stellar career, the two-time NCAA qualifier Bastian struck back for the Wolverines with an 11-2 major decision over Billy Higgins to give UVU a 10-9 lead. With Bastian holding to a 7-2 lead midway through the third, the ninth-ranked senior made his move with a stall point, followed by his fourth takedown of the match and an additional riding time point to earn the major decision and improve to 12-6 on the season.
Then in a tightly contested match at 184-pounds, UVU's Ashton Seely looked to score the upset over No. 23 Alan Clothier but in the end Clothier managed to escape with a 7-6 decision. Trailing 7-3 in the third, Seely recorded a takedown and a late stall point to pull within one but Clothier managed to hold on to give the Bears a 12-10 lead.
Then in senior Tanner Orndroff's final match at home, the 19th-ranked UVU three-time NCAA qualifier too earned a bonus-point win with a 14-4 major decision over UNC's Xavier Vasquez to give Utah Valley a 14-12 advantage. Up 6-2 in the final period, Orndorff earned the major with three more takedowns, a stall point and an impressive tally of 4:00 minutes of riding time to improve to 11-8 on the year.
UVU then added to its lead at heavyweight thanks to a 2-0 decision from No. 4 Tate Orndorff over UNC's Robert Winters. After riding out Winters in the second stanza, Orndorff followed with an escape and riding time in the third to improve to 15-2 on the season and give the Wolverines a 17-12 lead on the team score.
A 14-1 major decision from UNC 125-pounder Jace Koelzer then made it 17-16 heading into the final match of the night between No. 11 Taylor LaMont and No. 18 Mosha Schwartz.
Schwartz struck first in the 133-pound marquee match with an early takedown, but the UVU 2018 NCAA qualifier LaMont answered with an escape and a takedown to pit the match at 3-3 at the end of the opening period. Later knotted at 6-6 in the second, LaMont then got in on a couple of shots to take a 10-7 lead at the end of two. Schwartz then recorded a reversal in the third to make it 10-9, but LaMont responded with an escape to hold on to win by a score of 11-9. LaMont improves to 12-5 on the year with his third victory over a top-20 opponent in the last three weeks.
"All day today I was thinking about how this would be my last match at home, and it's been kind of bittersweet. But to come out win my final home match and have my team perform this well was just sweet," 174-pound senior Bastian said. "I got kind of emotional there during the nation anthem, but it felt good to come out and take care of business in front of my family."
The contest marked UVU's final home match of the 2019-20 season and snapped a 10-match skid for the short-handed Wolverines that have been without returning NCAA qualifiers Matt Findlay (149) and Demetrius Romero (165) all season due to injuries.
UVU will now head on the road next week for their final two regular season duals of the year. The Wolverines will first face Ohio in non-conference action on Friday, Feb. 21, before facing Big 12 foe West Virginia in Morgantown on Sunday, Feb. 23. The 2020 Big 12 Championships will then follow on March 7-8 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
141: Kainalu Estrella (UVU) FALL Brody Lamb (NC), 4:41
149: #10 Andrew Alirez (NC) DEC Cameron Hunsaker (UVU), 6-3
157: Jimmy Fate (NC) DEC Jed Loveless (UVU), 5-3
165: #31 Austin Matthews (NC) DEC Koy Wilkinson (UVU), 9-7
174: #9 Kimball Bastian (UVU) MD Billy Higgins (NC), 11-2
184: #23 Alan Clothier (NC) DEC Ashton Seely (UVU), 7-6
197: #19 Tanner Orndorff (UVU) MD Xavier Vasquez (NC), 14-4
285: #4 Tate Orndorff (UVU) DEC Robert Winters (NC), 2-0
125: Jace Koelzer (NC) MD Josiah Nava (UVU), 14-1
133: #11 Taylor LaMont (UVU) DEC #18 Mosha Schwartz (NC), 11-9