Learning isn’t always fun.
There was a lot of learning when the UVU wrestling team went head-to-head against defending national champion Penn State, which won convincingly 39-3.
The scoreboard didn’t reflect the toughness and grinding matches the wolverines had. There were matches that went down to the wire, and the Wolverines showed improvement, which is exactly what head coach Greg Williams wanted from his team.
“I saw great signs of improvement.” said coach Williams. “We wanted the guys to go out there and wrestle, to get a feel of where they are at.”
The Wolverines had many matches that were exciting and went down to the final seconds. 197-pounder Brian Chamberlain had one of those matches, facing the No. 12 wrestler. Chamberlain led 3-1 in the closing seconds of the match before giving up escape and take down points in the final seconds to lose 4-3.
Josh Wilson, the team’s 149-pounder, wrestled No. 1 ranked Frank Molinaro and lost his match by a 5-0 margin.
Blake Mangum (133 pounds) showed great toughness and patience in his match before scoring the only points on the board for the Wolverines in dramatic fashion, completing a 3-1, come-from-behind victory.
“I knew if I wrestled hard and gave it my all, I would wrestle well,” said Mangum. “I just had a good day today.”
Penn State Head Coach Cael Sandersen also felt that UVU is a program on the rise.
“We’ve got to give them credit for what they did out there,” Sandersen said. “They have a solid program and their kids all wrestle hard.”
It might be hard to gauge while the score looks a bit one-sided, taking on nationally ranked talent and more experienced wrestlers, but Williams is optimistic of what the future holds for the program.
“The fans can see that level of wrestling, that’s where we expect to be at,” Williams said. “I believe that we can be a ranked team, and we have the talent to do that.”
There is that old cliché that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Coach Williams feels that way moving forward with the program.
“I hate to lose. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been successful as a wrestler and be building a good team,” said Williams. “But when it comes to developing a team, the team develops as individuals develop.”
After the bout with Penn State, UVU took to the road to finish the season facing conference opponent Northern Colorado University and fell short 22-12. Now that the season is now over, the wrestling team will prepare for the regional championships in Cedar Falls, Iowa on March 4.
By Garrett Coleman