UVU made history by participating in the madness of March for the first time in school history as three wrestlers qualified for the National Wrestling Championships in Omaha, Neb. Ben Kjar, Flint Ray and Brad Darrington each made the trip to Nebraska to grapple with the best-of-the-best with hopes of a national championship on the horizon.
“Our goal was to not just be happy with going to the conference tournament but to get some guys to nationals,” said UVU wrestling coach Greg Williams. “ We are very pleased to have three guys here.”
Like a team in the NCAA basketball tournament for the first time the Wolverine wrestlers didn’t want to rely on the silver lining of making it to the tournament, they wanted to make some noise too.
On the first day of competition Ben Kjar (125) won his first match over Harvard’s Steven Kieth 4-0. He went on to face the No. 5 seed from Iowa State Andrew Long and suffered a 4-0 defeat, dropping him to the Wrestleback bracket. Down to single elimination Kjar was matched up against an old foe that he had beaten earlier in the season in Ohio State’s Nikko Triggas. Scoreless through two periods, Nikko jumped on top and rolled to the win 4-0 eliminating Kjar from the tournament.
Flint Ray (133) and Brad Darrington (174) also recorded wins at the tournament but each found themselves in the Wrestleback Bracket where their tournament runs would come to an end.
“All three of our guys believed that they could place here and that is why they are here and wrestling at this level,” Williams said. “All three will be back and have another chance to get here again next year and if we can correct those weaknesses and work hard on those things, all three have a chance to place here.”