After two months of matches abroad, the UVU wrestling team can finally look forward to competing at home.
Coach Greg Williams is confident Wolverine fans will like it as much as his players.
“We like the fact that Utah loves wrestling,” Williams said. “There’s a lot of fans. We have a good team to watch. They’re really impressive. Some of the teams coming in here have turned into pretty good rivalries.”
Jan. 22 is the next home date with the Wolverines hosting conference rival Wyoming. The Cowboys have held the upper hand over the last four years, but last year’s narrow 21-15 defeat has the Wolverines thinking change is on its way.
“[Wyoming] has had our number,” Williams said. “We haven’t been able to beat them, but last year was a barn burner. We’re definitely looking forward to it.”
Encouraging signs abound for UVU. Senior 125-pounder Ben Kjar defeated three nationally ranked grapplers en route to a third-place finish at UNC Greensboro’s Southern Scuffle December 30, including 11th-ranked Garrett Frey from Princeton.
Even after Kjar’s impressive pre-conference performances, earning him a No. 12 national ranking as of last week, coach Williams thinks his best is yet to come.
“He’s had eight matches against ranked guys,” Williams said. “He’s beating ranked guys. The thing that’s great about what he’s done so far is what he hasn’t really hit stride yet. We’ve kind of held him back just a little bit so he hits his peak when nationals come around.”
Williams has been just as deliberate with his other players in terms of peaking at the right time. Senior 133-pounder Flint Ray was ranked No. 14 last week. Senior Jeb Clark finished eighth at Greensboro in the 165-pound class.
“I think it was a good sign. Jeb has had a tough time ever since he’s gotten here,” Williams said. “He hasn’t been able to compete for a whole season. Last year he did well before getting hurt before conference play started. He has two months left in his career and there’s still a couple of things he’s working on.”
Williams is also hoping for big strides from sophomore 149-pounder Josh Wilson.
“They’ve got some things they’re working on,” Williams said. “We’re still expecting both of them to break out and compete for conference titles. They’re talented enough and hard-nosed enough. They want to win.”