Nipko shines in early season team defeats

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The UVU wrestling team began its dual season on the road Nov. 15 against No. 24 Central Michigan and competed in the Eastern Michigan Duals on Nov. 16.

The Wolverines came out with a 1-3 record against some very tough competition, losing to the Chippewas of Central Michigan, 27-9, Michigan State, 21-18, Ohio, 26-13 and picking up a lone victory over Gardner-Webb, 29-12.

There isn’t much to worry about for the Wolverines with this start to the season. With the exception of Central Michigan, the duals were really close for the Wolverines against some quality programs.

Injuries plagued the Wolverines, which led to their defeats at the Eastern Michigan dual tournament. The team is thin around the heavier weight classes and was forced to forfeit at the 174-pound weight bout. A forfeit is worth six points, which is basically equivalent to a free pin. This forfeit proved costly for UVU against Michigan State. The loss to the Spartans came by only three points.

UVU also held a three-point advantage against the Ohio Bobcats, leading 13-10 before trailing 16-13 because of the forfeit. The Wolverines weren’t able to come back as they dropped the match 26-13. Despite the injuries and dual losses, head coach Greg Williams still likes what he sees from his team.

“I feel like we are on track, but we need to be further along mentally,” Williams said. “We need to get tougher mentally through the match. We have the talent, no question. There were some matches against Central Michigan we just didn’t have the fire through the match.”

The wrestlers that were expected to win big matches did in the opening weekend. No. 12 Jade Rauser (125 pounds) dropped his first match against Cory Keener of CMU, but went on a tear for the rest of his matches, winning his next three, one by fall and the rest by major decision.

Heavyweight and No. 20 Adam Fager also wrestled hard in his first weekend of action this season. Fager pinned CMU’s Adam Robinson. Fager did lose to No. 10 Mike McClure of Michigan State, 3-2 and No. 10 Jeremy Johnson of Ohio in a major decision. However, Fager won his last match against Gardner-Webb’s Aaron Rabin via fall.

One of the more pleasant surprises for the Wolverines was the great wrestling from Bracken Nipko, who had wrestled up a weight class, going from 125 pounds to 133. Nipko dropped his first match against CMU’s Tyler Keserlring in an 8-1 decision, and then lost his next match to MSU’s Garth Yenter, 5-3 before catching fire and winning his next two matches, keeping his opponents scoreless.

“I thought that Bracken did a great job going up a weight and filling in for us at 133,” Williams said. “He was one of the most mentally tough kids at the tournament.”

Looking to add more depth at the heavier weights, the Wolverines landed a top heavyweight wrestler in Roy Nash of Taylorsville. Nash went a perfect 41-0 en route to a Utah state championship at 220 pounds. Nash is also a two-time double National Champion in freestyle and Greco-Roman. Nash will be a great addition for the Wolverines next season.

“We are excited to have Roy as part of our burgeoning program. We feel that with his work ethic in the classroom and on the mat, he is a great fit for the Wolverine family,” Williams stated. “He is part of the growing tradition that UVU will build on with top Utah wrestlers.”

The Wolverines will head out to Palo Alto, Calif. for the Stanford duals to take on Nebraska, Bakersfield and host Stanford on Nov. 30.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.