Utah Valley wrestling finally had a home dual for the first time this season. The Wolverines opened up against Grand Canyon University, who is eager to make a splash as a Division I newcomer but was outmatched against a progressing UVU team that dominated the dual 28-9 Thursday night in the PE building.
“Grand Canyon is solid throughout their lineup so I knew that tonight was going to be a battle at every weight class,” head coach Greg Williams said.
“I didn’t feel like we corrected everything that we’ve been working on in the room over the past couple of weeks, but overall the guys wrestled hard and I was pleased with the outcome.”
The Wolverines started out in a hole, having to forfeit at the 125 lb. class with Jade Rauser and Bracken Nipko nursing injuries. The task of getting momentum going for the Wolverines fell on 133-pounder Chasen Tolbert.
Tolbert came out explosive, going for takedowns early in the match. This explosiveness proved to be successful in has favor, getting a takedown and near fall points in the opening minute of the match. Tolbert continued to dominate his opponent and kept the tempo up and went on to pin his opponent with seconds remaining in the first period, knotting the score at 6-6.
“I didn’t want to start at 125,” Williams explained. “I hate putting six points for the other team to start the match, so Chasen’s match was a big deal to get us in the right direction. Tat kid [Tolbert’s opponent] is not a bad kid, Chasen made him look bad. That was huge for us and that got is in the right mode.”
Avery Garner (141) won his match in a 3-2 decision and Trevor Willson (149) dropped his match 3-4 to again even the score at 9-9 with the visiting ‘Lopes. The Wolverines then caught fire and wrestled hard and never looked back, taking each of the matches to win the dual 28-9.
Monte Schmalhaus was coming off a great showing in the Midlands tournament and placed 8th. He was looking to build on the great season that he is having. Like Tolbert, Schmalhaus came out with high intensity. Takedown, after takedown, Schmalhaus was dominating his opponent and worked him to a major decision 12-3, and looked really impressive.
“I thought Monte did a good job at breaking his opponent,” Williams said. “He’s not a bad kid either, but Monte just broke him.”
No.13 Heavyweight Adam Fager is also wrestling well this season having great showings and placing 4th and 7th in two prestigious tournaments in December. Fager was the last match of the evening and the team had the victory wrapped up.
Despite having the scenario telling Fager to go into coasting mode, he wrestled hard and took the aggression to his opponent and took his match in a 3-1 decision.
Despite winning, Williams knows the potential of his team and knows that although the win is nice, they can still improve and get better.
“There have been some things that we have been working on in the last two weeks and we weren’t as good as we thought we were in those areas,” Williams said. “Its a good group of guys, we’ve just got get more mentally tough no matter what the situation and if we do that, well be a really good team come March.”
The Wolverines will now head to Glendale to take on the Sun Devils of Arizona State on Jan. 18. Last season, ASU was overtaken by the Wolverines in a electrifying dual as UVU won 26-15. The Wolverines had fallen behind 15-6 and won consecutive matches to win the dual. The Wolverines will return home Feb. 1 to take on the Broncos of Boise State.
Photo by Laura Fox