After a pair of tough road losses last weekend, the Utah Valley wrestling team returned home as they played host to Northern Colorado Friday night at the Lockhart Arena in Big 12 dual meet action. In the absence of five regular starters, and despite a very strong showing by several wrestlers, the Wolverines were ultimately unable to keep up with the Bears as UVU (8-6, 4-4 Big 12) fell to UNC 22-20 (3-9, 2-5 Big 12) on senior night in Orem.
“You have to have guys in your room that can step-up when your starters are out. So that’s what we have to get better at,” said UVU head coach Greg Williams in a statement to GoUVU.com. “I thought that most of our guys went out and fought. I’m proud of our guys and now we need to get healthy for conference and see if we can do some damage there and get some guys to nationals.”
The Wolverines got off to a rocky start, after a fall in the opening 157 pound match followed by a forfeiture in the ensuing 165 pound bout gave the Bears a quick 12-0 overall lead.
In the 174 pound match, no. 17 ranked Kimball Bastian recorded a 12-3 major decision victory over his opponent to get the Wolverines on the board and cut the deficit to eight at 12-4.
A few moments later, no. 33 ranked Tanner Orndorff was able to earn victory by fall in the 197 pound bout before no. 27 ranked senior Dustin Dennison earned an overtime decision in the heavyweight match to pull the Wolverines to within 2 at 15-13.
UVU was unfortunately unable to build on the momentum of the pair of victories, as UNC came away with a pair of wins of its own in the 125 pound and 133 pound matches.
The Wolverines closed out the night with a major decision victory by Matt Findlay over Benjamin Polkowske in the 141 pound match and a Matthew Ontiveros win in the 149 pound match, but still came up just short in the overall score.
The Wolverines will now turn their attention to the Big 12 Championships to be held on March 3-4, at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. UVU will look to qualify several wrestlers for the NCAA Tournament March 15-17, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.