Optimism surrounds start of Wolverines’ wrestling season

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Dustan Copeland | Staff Writer | @dustycopey

First appearing in print on November 10, 2014.

There is plenty to be optimistic about with this year’s Utah Valley wrestling team. After positive performances in the Intrasquad Dual last Wednesday and a strong showing at the Clarion Open, the Wolverines are looking forward to a strong season.

We sat down with head Coach Greg Williams to get an idea of what we can expect from Utah Valley Wrestling in the 2014-2015 season. Particularly, we spoke about the leadership on the team.

“We have two 2-time (NCAA) qualifiers (Adam Fager and Jade Rauser) back and that always helps,” Williams said. “We have pretty good leadership with some of our other returning guys that have been starters for a couple years—Derek Thomas, Chasen Tolbert and Ethan Smith—so we do have some experience back. We’re expecting good things out of them.” Fager, a senior from Layton, is ranked 12th nationally in the heavyweight division, while Rauser bumped a weight class, now wrestling in the 133-pound weight class.

Junior, Derek Thomas, has worked hard during the offseason to make significant improvements. Williams commented, “Derrick Thomas had a great offseason again. He lifts hard and works out hard, and he’s progressing in some areas.”

Specifically, Williams spoke about what the Wolverines need to do in order to consistently perform well against their competition: “Our focus is staying aggressive throughout the match, being able to create more. We lost a lot of matches last year where we were either ahead by one or down by one and we didn’t finish the match right. Conditioning plays a big part of that. Attitude and confidence is the other piece.”

In addition to the seasoned veterans returning to the mat, UVU also brought in quality freshman. Their recruiting class ranked 22nd nationally. Among the recruits is Matthew Ontiveros, a 141-pounder from Fresno, California. “Matthew Ontiveros is a first-year freshman, and we’re going to be starting him to begin with. We like his improvement already, and he’s doing things right now a lot better than he was doing three months ago,” Williams said. The Wolverines will also utilize Dalton Harmon, another freshman middleweight from Nephi, Utah.

As far as meets and duals go this season, there should be plenty to be excited about. UVU fans don’t even have to travel very far to experience a lot of the excitement.

“It’s the home meets that we’re really excited about. We’ve got a pretty good home schedule. We’ll have Stanford here at the end of January. Then, Oregon State—those are back-to-back meets. We’ll have Wyoming here again, which is great. We’re excited to go out and wrestle Boise State and Iowa State. Those are going to be some great duals. Arizona State will be the following week.”

Tournaments may be an even better way to gage how the Wolverines stack up against quality competition. Among the tournaments that Williams is looking forward to is Las Vegas. “Vegas is a great tournament for us. There is usually 10-15 top-25 teams there. We look for opportunities where there are tournaments to wrestle ranked guys, so if we feel like there are a lot of ranked guys in a tournament, we’ll want to go there because that’s how you get your guys ranked—you have to beat those guys.”

From what we’ve seen early on in this season, there doesn’t appear to be any reason why the Wolverines won’t perform well against the top competition. Yes, there is indeed plenty to be optimistic about for UVU Wrestling.