UVU wrestling’s Jade Rauser may have had the fastest pin (1:17) in the Wolverines’ 26-15 win over Arizona State on Saturday, but it was his twin brother Val whose victory may have been the most impressive.
Val Rauser’s win by pin in 2:43 came in just his second meet since returning from a bout with ulcerative colitis, a chronic illness that has hammered him from time to time throughout his career.
“I find ways to get through it,” Rauser said. “Anything that picks me up and throws me down, I’m ready to get back up.”
Indeed, Rauser was the one picking up and throwing down over the weekend. His first points against ASU’s Ares Carpio came on a takedown just 20 seconds into the match. The ending came soon after, when Rauser trapped Carpio for a pin with 43 seconds still left in the first period.
UVU head coach Greg Williams wasn’t surprised by Rauser’s performance, since efforts such as those were among the reasons the twins were among the Wolverines’ prized recruiting class that is just now establishing its own identity.
The question mark has been Rauser’s health, an up-and-down affair ever since he was diagnosed five years ago.
“He’s such a great wrestler,” Williams said. “He’s been in the room [practicing with the team]. What’s happened with his colitis is cutting weight seems to have been a catalyst for it acting up. He’s throwing up and he has no energy.”
The heavy toll on Rauser’s body has forced Williams to be cautious. The redshirt freshman from Montana has wrestled roughly half the amount of his teammates after missing two months of the season, hoping for his body to stabilize enough to compete.
“We’re not going to wrestle him,” Williams said. “He’s too good to go out and lose to guys because he can’t stand up.”
Able to stand or not, Rauser (133 pounds) found it difficult to sit on the sideline instead of filling his usual spot in the rotation - right after his brother Jade (125).
“What he goes through, I don’t think anybody knows how emotionally draining that is on him. He cannot control this,” Williams said. “It’s out of his hands. We’ve had several talks over the last two months where he’s in tears. We’re trying to figure out what we can do to keep him on the mat and keep him going.”
Rauser, however, wastes no time forgetting his ailment once able to compete. His post-match comments didn’t address his health nearly as much as his hopes for the season.
“It feels good [to win my match],” Rauser said. “There’s nothing like it. I was a little excited before and after the match. I’m ready to finish out the season. Hopefully everything goes good.”
UVU’s conference dominance slipping
UVU’s regular season domination in conference play has taken a hit this year.
After dropping a 62-60 game to Texas Pan-American on Saturday, UVU fell to 1-2 in Great West Conference play.
The Wolverines have now lost as many conference games this year than they did lost in their first two years in the GWC combined.
UVU went 11-1 in conference play in its first season in the GWC and last year the Wolverines finished with a 9-1 conference record.
The team’s recent struggles have made Saturday’s game at Chicago State a pivotal game if UVU hopes to remain in the hunt for another conference title.
The Wolverines will get a break from conference play following Saturday’s game. They will host Peru State and then play at Cal State Bakersfield before resuming conference play against Texas Pan American on February 9.
Mansfield has the hot hand
After going 1-for-6 and scoring two points in a win over Air Force, UVU senior Kaycee Mansfield has the hot hand.
Since the Air Force game she has made 14-for-18 shots (78 percent) from the field and she has averaged 10.3 points per game in UVU’s last three games.
She scored 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the team’s last game against Cal State Bakersfield.
For the season, she’s shooting .479 from the field.
UVU women on top of conference play
The women’s team (2-0) will try to stay on top of conference play when it plays at NJIT on Saturday.
The Wolverines are coming off a 67-65 loss to Cal State Bakersfield over the weekend.
In that game Sammie Jensen recorded her 14th double-double of the season.
UVU will have a chance to avenge Saturday's loss later in the season when it welcomes CSUB to the UCCU Center on Feb. 27.