It’s been a long, hard and grueling season for the UVU wrestling team. For Josh Wilson (149 pounds) all of that hard work and dedication will pay off as he takes on the nations best in the 2012 NCAA wrestling nationals.
Wilson wrestled well in the 2012 NCAA West Regional tournament March 2-4, placing second and clinching his spot in nationals.
The regional tournament was not an easy task for the No.14 wrestler in the nation. After a first-round bye and a victory that followed, Wilson wrestled the No.1 seeded Cole VanOhlen of Air Force to determine first place. Early in the match, Wilson took a knee to the face, breaking his nose.
“I dove underneath his legs and his leg just smashed my face,” Wilson said. “It happened in the first round, and I didn’t even notice it or know my nose was broken.”
Wilson wrestled on, and the match was still tied 1-1 in the third period. Wilson tried to take advantage of an opportunity to take his opponent down and take the lead. Unfortunately the advantage went to VanOhlen as he earned the points and took a very close match, 4-1.
The road had gotten a bit bumpier for Wilson following the loss. In this tournament, a match was held to determine who the “true” second place was.
“It was the hardest thing I had to do all day,” Wilson said. “I was so close to winning conference and achieving that goal and devastated because I was so close. Because of a mistake I had to turn around and wrestle in a half-hour and still focus on getting to nationals.”
Wilson faced off against Mark Erickson of North Dakota State, and defeated him 6-1, which qualified him for the first time for the national tournament.
Wilson is now ready as ever to go to nationals and make a name for himself on the biggest stage that college wrestling has to offer.
“This year I have to go out and make a name for myself,” Wilson said. “Last year I had a good year, but not that good of a year. This year I have been winning and I am ranked, and hopefully place in the tournament.”
Wilson is not the only one that is confident of success. Head coach Greg Williams is very confident in Wilson’s talent and ability to make it very far in the tournament.
“He’s capable of placing, his goal is to place,” said Coach Williams. “It’ll be interesting at 149, the top two are pretty close of who it’ll be. 3-17 anyone can win. Those guys are so close to one another and Josh can beat any of them.”
“I already think he’s one of the elite wrestlers, and for him to place will give him the stamp of approval,” Williams said about Wilson
Getting to this tournament was a great accomplishment for Josh Wilson, but that’s not enough for him. Yes he has a goal of placing and doing well in the tournament, but something else seems sweeter to him and that’s he would rather see his team there with him next year.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling this year,” said Wilson about going to the tournament. “Yes I’m going to nationals and that’s good, but I want some of these other guys there to share the moment with.”
Josh wasn’t the only one who did well in the regional tournament. Avery Garner (125) and Ethan Smith (165) placed third. Blake Mangum (133), Monte Schmalhaus (174), Brian Chamberlin (197) and Dustin Dennison (285) all placed fourth in their respective weight classes.
With the great showing at the tournament and little things that could have gone better, the team is moving forward and will build on this year’s success.