Despite having a uphill climb to start the match, the Wolvrerines pressed on and wanted to prove they can win against a top-ranked team, something that they have been working for all season.
“I put a challenge to them for the rest of the season,” said Head Coach Greg Williams. “To put all the energy they have and put everything out there.”
The team seemed to respond to this challenge as the Wolverines won the next four matches to put them up 12-6.
Chasen Tolbert (133 lbs) has been doing some great things since he stepped into Val Rauser’s (133) spot, who has been out due to illness. Tolbert handled his opponent and won the match in shutout fashion, 5-0.
Avery Garner (141) had a big win, taking the match in the third period. This was a crucial match that could have determined the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
Josh Wilson (149) also had dominated his opponent, winning in a shutout match of 6-0, almost getting a major decision in the bout. His match was followed up by a win from Ethan Smith (157) with a score of 9-4.
Abner Cook (165) took on the No. 6 wrestler in the nation and had a hard-fought battle with the top-ranked grappler, losing the match 2-0 with the points coming to North Dakota State by a reversal late in the second period.
After the 165-pound battle, the Wolverines lost the next three matches by slim margins. Even though Adam Fager (285) was able to grind out a win 3-2, the Wolverines still fell by three points when it was all over.
Because of his performance on the road trip to both North and South Dakota, Fager received the WWC wrestler of the week for the week of Feb. 11, the first of his career. He has now improved to a 17-9 record for the year.
The challenge still remains for the Wolverines to finish the rest of the year strong and meet the goals they set before the season started of qualifying for nationals.
“We’ve talked with them and know that they are capable of winning a championship. We’re right there,” Williams said.
The Wolverines will have three weeks after their final dual against Air Force on Feb. 16 to prepare for the conference tournament. The tournament will be held on March 9 in Laramie, Wyoming and will determine who will qualify for the national tournament.