You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach a new dog some old tricks. That is what head coach Greg Williams and his staff are doing with their young wrestling team as they prepare to take on their conference rivals, the Northern Iowa Panthers, this coming Friday.
“We need to get the basics down,” Williams said. “Right now we need to take it a step up.”
So how does a coach prepare the youngest team in the Western Wrestling Conference (WWC) go toe to toe with the Panthers of Northern Iowa?
“We gave them a schedule to prepare them, so they’re not surprised,” Williams said. “Our older guys also show them by example. We even work with them individually too.”
Last time UVU faced off against Northern Iowa back in the 2009-2010 season, more than half of the current Wolverines were still in high school. They defeated the Panthers 19-16 with a veteran-heavy team that included Benjamin Kjar, Flint Ray, and Justin Morrill. Although that team had experience on their side, Williams believes this year’s team has heart.
“They always go out there and give 100 percent,” Williams said. “I tell them, ‘I know how good you could be.’”
Although they were defeated by two teams back to back in Chattanooga and 12th ranked Oklahoma, the momentum they need comes in February, according to Williams.
“We’re more worried about our guys getting certain things down,” he said. “We need to get the right pace in February to get them into nationals.”
The Wolverines are back from a road trip that had them face Air Force and Wyoming (check uvureview.com for details on those matches). Although Williams professes to be more focused about getting the momentum to get his kids to nationals, he still respects and acknowledges the skills of the wrestling program at Northern Iowa.
“Our job is not to add pressure,” Williams said. “But we understand to win this conference, we’d have to beat Northern Iowa and Wyoming every year.”
Although the Utah Valley University is a young team, the desires are the same as Wolverines of old: “stay true.” Northern Iowa will be a test , but Williams believes UVU will stay true to what they know and what the coaching staff has prepared them for.
“[We] have the talent to beat them,” Williams said. “We have a very good program.”
Alex Rivera – Sports Writer