UVU wrestling had its second dual tournament of the year in Palo Alto, Calif. on Nov. 30 in the Stanford Duals. The Wolverines were hoping to improve from the first week of action but left with the same 1-2 result.
The Wolverines faced more great talent in the tournament, facing No. 10 Nebraska, Bakersfield and host school, No. 18 Stanford. UVU looked more impressive and aggressive in the tournament than it did two weeks ago in Michigan.
The team’s roster wasn’t at full strength due to injury. Among those injured was No. 13, 125-pounder Jade Rauser, who could have helped the team win some of its close matches.
“I was really pleased with how we wrestled, I thought we competed really well,” head coach Greg Williams said. “We’ve had some kids out with injury. Our goal was to put everything out there and wrestle hard. I thought we did that really well.”
The first match of the tournament pitted the Wolverines against the Cornhuskers of Nebraska. Heavyweight Adam Fager got the ball rolling as he beat his opponent Collin Jensen in a 7-5 decision. The Huskers answered back in the next match as 125-pound, fill-in Bracken Nipko, who had been on a tear lately, lost to No. 15 Tim Lambert in an 11-5 decision.
UVU was able to win the next match thanks to another decision win by 133-pound Chasen Tolbert. It seemed that it was going to be a back-and-forth battle for the Wolverines. But because of the injuries that have been hampering the team, the Huskers took advantage of the situation and won 36-6.
Despite losing the first dual, the team battled as it faced the Bakersfield Roadrunners. Fager again opened up the match with an impressive win in a 7-4 decision. The team responded well to Fager’s victory, and only three Wolverines lost their matches as the team went on to victory over the Roadrunners, 19-16.
The last dual of the tournament came against the No. 18 Stanford Cardinal, a team that UVU has beaten both times that they had met previously, the most recent being an electrifying 18-15 win last season.
Fager again started the team off with a solid win, only this time he achieved the fall and earned his team six points. The match became another back-and-forth battle for the Wolverines.
Stanford scored a few major decisions that ultimately created a difference too large on the scoreboard. Despite wins from 184-pound Ethan Smith and 197-pound Derek Thomas to close out the match, UVU came up short, losing 20-16.
Though the Wolverines left with just one win, Williams was pleased with how his team did with all of the obstacles that plagued them.
“I wasn’t really pleased with how our first trip went,” Williams explained. “We had experienced kids and we didn’t show well. This time, I felt like they gave it their all and really battled.”
There’s an old sports cliché that says there are no moral victories, or another that states you’re only as good as your record shows. Neither applies in this case. The team has shown improvement and will continue to get better.
When the conference season starts, the Wolverines will likely be a team that is winning the close matches.
“A lot of times we get caught up with how we are with wins and losses,” Williams said. “In the past, that has worked for us. Right now we are wrestling really good teams and I can’t evaluate it like that. I’ve got to look at what we are doing individually and improve.”
The team will have a chance to demonstrate its strides as it prepares for one of the hardest part of the season schedule, first in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 6-7, and in the Midlands Championships in Illinois on Dec. 29-30.
Garrett is native of Orem, Utah. He is a graduate of Timpanogos High School. While in high school, Garrett enjoyed playing sports and was a double lettered athlete in football in wrestling. After a short stint of college football at Dixie State, Garrett made his way back to Utah Valley in pursuit of his aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. Garrett has been contributing for the UVU Review for three years and has covered sports, specializing in wrestling. Garrett is married to Jodi Coleman and served an LDS mission to Baguio Philippines. You can follow him on twitter @legendgary