Grapplers Battle Close With Utah Valley
GREELEY, Colo. - Starting at heavyweight, the Northern Colorado and Utah Valley wrestling teams battled back-and-forth, but the Wolverines won the final four bouts for the 25-10 victory on senior night.
"I told the guys in the locker room," said Head Coach Ben Cherrington. "I thought they all wrestled well, they wrestled hard and if a few things change in a couple of those matches we're right there with them. A big part of a match like that against a team you're going to be wrestling in two weeks is it's always better to lose this match than in two weeks. Wrestling those close, close matches is going to be in the back of their mind. It's going to be in the back of our minds in a positive way."
Senior Justin Tuell got the Bears (3-14, 2-4 WWC) on board first, winning his third-straight bout with a 4-1 decision over Casen Eldridge. The majority of the scoring, four of the five points, happened during the second period as NC took the 3-0 lead.
"He's doing good," said Cherrington. "It's unfortunate, but he doesn't have too many workout partners right now but he's doing well with what he has to work with. I'm glad he's having some success. I think the last three matches have had to build his confidence. There's only three other guys out there who have beat him and they've all been close. It's one of those things that if he's ready to go on the right day he could be going to the NCAA Tournament."
The most thrilling match of the night for the fans happened at 125 pounds as the great rivalry continued between NC senior Tony Mustari and UV junior Ben Kjar, who is currently ranked No. 11. Mustari got the first points off a takedown, but Kjar scored the next three and entered the third period with a 3-2 advantage. After the conclusion of regulation the wrestlers were knotted at 5-5 thanks in part to 2:26 of riding time for Mustari. There was no scoring in the first two overtimes and with just 12 seconds remaining, Kjar got the escape for the 6-5 win.
"A guy like Tony Mustari, I feel like he wrestled better than he's wrestled all year. He did some things we've been asking of him and had a chance to beat a top-10 kid right there.
Sophomore Brett Bahe took the mat next and won his third-straight bout with a 7-5 decision over Flint Ray.
"He (Bahe) and Flint have a history of tough matches dating back to last year," said Cherrington. "Bahe seems to usually find a way to pull it out. I think the one thing you've got to improve with Brett and it's going to change that match and it's not going to be that close is his shape. He's been out so long and now we've got two weeks to get him into shape and I think he's going to be real tough to beat."
Utah Valley won the next two weight classes by decision and the first bonus point victory over the night came at 157 pounds as junior Justin Gaethje posted a 12-0 win over Jamision Moss for the Bears final points of the evening.
"Gaethje is Gaethje," said Cherrington. "I never have to worry about how hard he's going to wrestle. He's going to go out there and expect to win the match. He's out there thinking he can beat anybody and I think just the fact that he's scoring points on guys is good. He's going to expect to do that on anybody."
The Bears now have two weeks off in preparation for the NCAA West Regionals in Brookings, S.D. as South Dakota State hosts the championship on March 6.
"We're going to have a brutal week of practice," Cherrington said. "I've got them coming back at six o'clock tomorrow morning and we're going to go right at it. We're going to have a good hard week of practice and then back off the week before and hope they'll be fresh and ready to go."
285 - Justin Tuell (NC) dec. Casen Eldridge,
125 -#11 Ben Kjar (UV) dec. Tony Mustari, 6-5 (OT3)
133 -Brett Bahe (NC) dec. Flint Ray, 7-5
141 -Wyatt Ray (UVU) dec. Kenny Hashimoto, 5-4
149 - Justin Morrill (UVU) dec. Justin Gonzales, 7-1
157 -Justin Gaethje (NC) maj. dec. Jamision Moss, 12-0
165 -Jeb Clark (UVU) maj. dec. Kevin O'Brien, 15-2
174 -Brad Darrington (UVU) dec. Brandon Kammerzell, 9-3
184 -Monte Schmalhaus (UVU) dec. Patrick Prentice, 7-2
197 -Josh Wood (UV) fall Ed Matthews, 3:33