Wrestling program earns passionate fan base
It was quite a spectacle. Nearly 2,000 fans cheered and chanted in unison, rooting on the hometown Wolverines. The energy was palpable, the anticipation was mounting and the chants of “U-V-U” were deafening.
One would assume this occurred during the waning seconds of a tightly contested Utah Valley Men’s Basketball game, but in actuality this was ten minutes prior to the start of last night’s UVU Men’s Wrestling dual meet against the rival Boise State Broncos. That’s right, the match had not even begun and the UVU Activity’s Center was bursting with the kind of passion and school spirit other Utah Valley University athletic teams desire to attain.
The scene was no fluke. The passion and attendance at last week’s match is present at every home meet for the Wolverines.
The fact that many of Utah’s top wrestlers have stayed to compete for the hometown Wolverines has helped create a buzz for the team that has contributed to the home floor advantage that is frankly unique at Utah Valley. Though other sports have had great crowds sporadically over the past few years, wrestling has been the unquestioned king at UVU. As proven in other venues such as the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum in Logan, the fans in attendance have a bigger value than merely filling empty seats. Raucous wrestling fans give the home team a distinct advantage.
“People may not think it, but it is a big deal,” Junior-grappler Josh Wilson said. “Wrestling can fatigue you so fast. It is a very intense sport, and the crowd can give you that jolt you need to get your second wind.”
UVU Wrestling has become the go-to event for the state’s wrestling enthusiasts. Due to Title IX, many universities began cutting certain men’s sports, and wrestling has historically been among the more frequently dropped. Brigham Young University lost its decision win by 141-pounder Derek Malan. The redshirt freshman continued what has been a strong month of play after finishing fourth in this month’s UVU Open and earning three straight wins at the Midlands Championships in Illinois.
Wolverine freshmen Ethan Smith and David Prieto both lost their matches by one point, with Smith’s loss coming in double-overtime. Bryan Chamberlain lost by pin following Prieto’s match, setting up Dennison’s small margin for error.
Utah Valley left the following day to compete in the Lone Star Duals held in Arlington, Texas, a tournament featuring No. 12 Oklahoma. The Wolverines’ next home match will be held Jan. 27 against Northern Iowa.
By Travis Leavitt – Sports Writer