Five Wolverine wrestlers picked up individual wins against Air Force.
Utah Valley wrestlers Jeb Clark, Casen Eldredge, Ben Kjar, Justin Morrill and Flint Ray all wrestled their final home match Feb. 11 on Senior Night.
Ray, sophomore Josh Wilson, Clark, freshman Trevor Rupp and Kjar all picked up individual wins and Utah Valley took the match 23-20 against Air Force.
“It was great with the book ends with Flint and Ben getting pins and getting the crowd excited,” said Coach Greg Williams. “It feels great. It’s great to get crowds like that and it’s great to have a match like that in front of the crowd. It wasn’t an easy match back and forth the whole time.”
After the five seniors were honored by the UVU Athletic department for their collegiate wrestling careers, 133-pounder Ray hit the mat first against Air Force opponent Derek Gillespie. Ray took the win by quickly pinning Gillespie in 2:51, putting six points on the board for Utah Valley.
Morril’s individual loss to 141-pounder Air Force opponent No. 11 Cole VonOhlen gave Air Force six points to tie up the match before Wolverine Wilson took the mat to win the decision, putting Utah Valley up 9-6.
The score then toggled back to Air Force as Wolverine sophomore 157-pounder Richard Winger took an individual loss to Air Force opponent Alec Williams, putting them up by one point, 10-9.
“It feels great. It’s great to get crowds like that and it’s great to have a match like that in front of the crowd.”
– Coach Williams
Clark (165) then hit the mat against Air Force’s Clayton Gable, defeating him 15-0 by technical fall by a takedown just one second left in the duel, giving the Wolverines the lead, 14-10.
Junior Brad Darrington (174) and Eldredge (184) both fell by decision to their opponents, putting Air Force back up on the scoreboard with a 16-14 lead.
Freshman standout Trevor Rupp (197) then hit the mat against Air Force senior Neil Delaney, taking him by a takedown in overtime to win the decision 3-1 and put the Wolverines back on top 17-16.
“He’s [Rupp] really turned the corner the last month,” said Williams. “He had a really bad loss here against Northern Colorado and we talked a lot about how he’s wrestling and I said ‘It’s not going to change until you change how you’re trying to work on your technique,’ and he’s completely changed and it’s showing. That was a great match for him and he really was a key to that win.”
Freshman Christian Denny (HWT) fell to Air Force sophomore Jared Erickson 10-2, which gave Air Force a 20-17 lead going into the final match of the night.
Crowd favorite No. 13 in the nation Kjar hit the mat for his final home match and quickly pinned Air Force’s sophomore Tyler Spangler in 1:41, winning the individual match 6-2 and securing the win for Utah Valley. Kjar’s final home win gave him a perfect four-year, undefeated-at-home collegiate career.
As Kjar finished his match he waved to the crowd as a final thank you for their support over his collegiate wrestling career.