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UVU Wrestlers Look to Qualify for Nationals Sunday at West Regional
March 2, 2012
OREM, Utah - The Utah Valley University wrestling team will be looking to qualify all 10 of its wrestlers for this year's NCAA Championships when it competes at the NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Sunday.
Competition will begin at 11 a.m. CT/10 a.m. MT and the finals are slated to take place at 4 p.m. CT/3 p.m. MT will all seven WWC schools battling it out at Northern Iowa's McLeod Center. In all 70 wrestlers will be competing to earn 17 automatic bids that have been awarded to the WWC from the NCAA. Live video of the event will be available by visiting UNIPanthers.com and live results from can also be found by going to TrackWrestling.com.
Tickets for the day-long event at the McLeod Center are $15 for adults and $10 for youth. Tickets can be purchased at the UNI Athletics Ticket Office, by phone at 319-273-4849 or online at unitix.uni.edu.
UVU will head to the conference championship/NCAA qualifying tournament for the third consecutive season after becoming eligible to participate in all NCAA Div. I postseason tournaments prior to the 2009-10 season. The Wolverines have had three wrestlers qualify for Nationals in each of the past two seasons. Last year three then seniors qualified in Benjamin Kjar (125), Flint Ray (133) and Justin Morrill (141). Ray won his second consecutive conference championship a year ago while Kjar went on to become UVU's first-ever wrestling All-American as he placed fourth at the 2011 NCAA Championships.
This year UVU 149-pounder Josh Wilson (16-8), who recently came in at 18th in the country in the final NCAA Coaches' Poll and 17th in the latest RPI ranking, and 174-pounder Monte Schmalhaus (12-14) with both make their second trip to the regional, while eight other Utah Valley wrestlers will be competing at the event for the very first time.
Besides Wilson and Schmalhaus, UVU will send 125-pounder Colby Christensen (19-13), 133-pounder Blake Mangum (9-4), 141-pounder Avery Garner (18-14), 157-pounder Napoleon Aniciete (11-20), 165-pounder Ethan Smith (18-14), 184-pounder David Prieto (6-16), 197-pounder Brian Chamberlain (11-15) and heavyweight Dustin Dennison (22-19).
The Wolverines finished the season with a 6-10 overall record and placed fourth in the WWC with a 1-5 conference dual mark. No. 11 Wyoming won the conference with a perfect 6-0 mark while UNI finished second (5-1). Air Force, Northern Colorado and North Dakota State all tied for third with identical 3-3 records and South Dakota State finished last at 0-6.
The breakdown of the 17 automatic bids per weight class for the West Regional/WWC Championships, are as follows: 125 pounds (2), 133 (2), 141 (1), 149 (2), 157 (3), 165 (2), 174 (1), 184 (2), 197 (1) and Heavyweight (1).
For those who don't qualify at the regional, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 7. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; qualifying event placement; quality wins; results against common opponents; winning percentage; RPI; coaches ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class. Last year the WWC received two additional at-large selections.
This year's three-day NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships will take place March 15-17 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
Brackets for the regional won't be released until Saturday evening following a coaches' seeding meeting.