It’s kickoff time, or at least time for the UVU wrestling team to strap up and hit the mat for the season to begin.
The young Wolverine wrestling team will face off unranked against some of the toughest teams in the league. Their first match is against the nationally second-ranked Iowa State this Thursday, a match that will be played out on Iowa territory. After the long travels, the team will return to host Boise State, ranked 13th nationally.
“It’s going to be a really good test for us,” said head coach Greg Williams, set for his third season with the boys. “We have a young team, but we have some quality talent.”
The struggle this year facing the Wolverines is their roster. Youth may not be the issue, however the depth of the team isn’t like it used to be. The team’s biggest player, Adam Fager at 197, a freshman out of Layton, will compete well, but there is no one to replace him if injured, and the team will have to forfeit their matches in the heavyweight division until recruitment or tryout has been made.
It will be a building process for UVU. “Two years ago I had four and a half scholarships,” Williams said. “Now we are trying to get guys to walk on.” The schedules have been changed, and although the records don’t indicate large improvement, the team thinks otherwise.
“We know how much we have improved. We don’t have one weak kid on this team — there is not one guy that can’t compete well,” Williams said.
One key player who will demand attention is Jeb Clark, a sophomore out of Spanish Fork who was ranked third nationally in high school but disappeared on an LDS mission. No one picked him up, so his goal was to attend Northwestern Community College in hopes of a look. He took a very controversial loss call in the championship match and fell to second place before transferring to become a Wolverine.
“He is going to be very good,” Williams added. “We are expecting something great out of him, something similar to what Ben (Kjar) has done.”
Jeff Newby and Casen Eldredge are returning athletes who both “have gained a lot of experience last year” and are going to have an excellent season.