For team captain Ben Kjar, hard work and preparation brought some much needed payback.
Kjar beat 18th-ranked Tony Mustari of Northern Colorado (4-10-1) to lift his team to a 23-16 victory for UVU (7-2).
Both Kjar and coach Greg Williams attribute the win to film study and making adjustments for takedowns. After losing three bouts against Mustari last year, Kjar couldn’t finish his takedowns to score points. But Kjar figured out his mistakes and scored three takedowns to win 7-2 and extend the team-winning streak to seven.
“Last year I had the leg but couldn’t finish,” Kjar said. “We watched a lot of tapes this week and pushed it. I’m sick of losing (to him).”
As for the tightly-knit team, seven wins in a row just make them stronger.
“Streaks are great,” Williams said. “But we are focusing on improving right now. What’s great about this team right now is they are together. They’re working hard, they believe in themselves and they are getting better every match.”
Kjar’s was one of six key victories throughout the night for the Wolverines. The matches started with UVU’s 133-pound sophomore Flint Ray who earned a spectacular pin over Brett Bahe to give the Wolverines a 6-0 lead.
The Bears put up a fight with three straight wins at 141, 149 and 157 pounds to take a 13-6 lead. However, Jeb Clark stopped the Bears’ momentum with a 12-1 major decision.
After intermission the Wolverines turned on the heat with three more wins with Brad Darrington, Casen Eldredge, and true freshman Adam Fager. Fager’s 7-2 win against Patrick Carey increased the score to 20-13 in favor of the Wolverines.
The Bears needed two wins in the next two matches and one of those had to be by bonus points. To keep the Wolverines on top Williams threw in Diego Avalon, who normally wrestles 184 pounds to wrestle heavyweight Justin Tuell. Tuell won the match 6-2 but kept the team in winning position 20-16 going into the night’s final-Kjar, Mustar-match.
“Diego (Avalon) did a great job for us,” Williams said. “He didn’t give up the pin and that was huge.”
Due to Avalon’s performance by not getting pinned, Coach Williams felt confident that the Wolverines would win.