The University of Wyoming broke a ten-match win streak last Friday against the Wolverines, 21-15, in front of a full crowd.
The Wolverines are now 10-3 overall and 3-1 in the Western Wrestling Conference, but still have reason to rejoice with a roster full of freshman and sophomores that are likely to improve with time.
“That’s what I wanted to see,” said coach Greg Williams. “I wanted to see if we could push the pace against a team that wants to push the pace against us. Of course there are definitely things that we can work on, but I was really pleased and I think we are getting very close to where we need to be.”
Utah Valley had fans behind them, but got stumped to start with Wyoming winning the first two matches, at 133 pounds and 141 pounds. UVU fought back at 149, with Justin Morrill beating Wyoming’s Chase Smith 3-1. Soon after a Cowboy win at 157, Sophomore Jeb Clark pinned Wyoming’s Alex Rieder in a cradle at 2:28 in the first round to even the score at 9-9.
Fans stood to cheer Clark for his courageous pin, and getting the Wolverines back in the match.
“Oh my gosh dude, it was awesome,” said All-American Ben Kjar about Clark’s pin. “He has been out with injuries for about a month. So it’s been difficult for him to get back into it. So for Jeb to come in here and pin his man, and to get that force we needed to put us back in the match was huge.”
“I knew I was one of the ones that were supposed to get a win tonight for the team,” Clark said. “I got excited and just really wanted to win for the team.”
The Wolverines fell behind 15-9 after losing the next two matches, but came back at 197, when Adam Fager improved to 32-10 this season with a 4-2 decision over Wyoming’s Alfonso Hernandez.
In the final match of the evening, Benjamin Kjar, ranked 19th in the nation at 125 pounds, came through for the Wolverines, beating the Cowboy’s Michael Martinez 5-3. However, it wasn’t enough for the team win.
“You know what?” asked Kjar. “If we just had a couple upsets we would have been good. On paper they were going to beat us, but that’s why we come out here and wrestle, to find out. If everything worked out on paper then we wouldn’t have to show up. But this match we were able to come and prove ourselves. We lost but we’re all still sophomores and freshman.”
Included in the crowd of spectators were high school state wrestlers. Coach Williams says there is a lot of good wrestlers here watching and hopes to bring more depth to his team next year in his recruiting efforts.