OREM, Utah - The Utah Valley University wrestling team didn't disappoint in its final dual of the season Saturday as it defeated the Air Force Academy, who is ranked 22nd in the latest InterMat poll, 23-9 on Senior Night in Orem.
The Wolverines, who finished their regular season with a 6-4 overall record and a 3-2 mark in Western Wrestling Conference action, won seven of the 10 bouts on the night including a big upset win by 125-pounder Jade Rauser over No. 8 Josh Martinez.
"Our guys went out and wrestled tonight. Air Force is a really good team and I'm proud of the way that all of our guys competed against them," said UVU head coach Greg Williams. "The match of the night was at 125, what a performance by Jade (Rauser). Josh Martinez is a tough kid but Jade did exactly what he needed to do to win. Overall this was a great momentum builder for us as we'll now prepare for conference."
The dual began at 125-pounds and Rauser found himself trailing AFA's (10-3, 1-2 WWC) Martinez, 5-4, with the clock winding down in the final period. With Martinez on top of Rauser with mere seconds remaining, the UVU redshirt freshman managed to pick up a reversal just before time expired to give him the 6-5 upset over Martinez. Rauser managed to reverse Martinez's hold not only before time expired but also before the Air Force grappler secured one-minute of riding time as Martinez finished the match with 59 seconds of riding time.
After a Falcon victory at 133-pounds tied the team score at 3-all, UVU junior Avery Garner (141) and senior Josh Wilson (149) picked up back-to-back wins to extend the Wolverines lead to 10-3.
Garner found himself all tied up in the third period over Carter McElhany but riding time was the difference as Garner picked up a 6-5 win with 2:38 seconds of riding time. Wilson, the lone senior in UVU's starting lineup, didn't disappoint the home crowd in the next match on Senior Night as he defeated Logan Burch by major decision (14-6).
Air Force countered back at 157-pounds as No. 15 Josh Kreimier gutted out a 2-1 victory over Ethan Smith to cut the score to 10-6. The team score didn't remain close for long, however, as Abner Cook and Monte Schmalhaus won the next two bouts for the Wolverines to give Utah Valley a 16-6 advantage.
Devin Hightower then helped the Falcons cut the score to 16-9 with a 4-1 victory over Derek Thomas (184) but that was the final match AFA would win, as David Prieto (197) and Adam Fager (heavyweight) won the final two bouts of the evening to seal the Wolverines' win over the ranked conference foe.
The win concludes Utah Valley's regular season as the Wolverines will now prepare for the WWC Championships/NCAA West Regional that will take place March 9 in Laramie, Wyo. There, UVU will try to qualify as many wrestlers as it can for the 2013 NCAA Championships that will be March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. The Wolverines will end the regular season with a 3-2 WWC dual record, which currently places them in third place in the conference standings.
Prior to the match UVU honored seniors Glenn Terrano and Josh Wilson.
125 - Jade Rauser (UVU) Dec. No. 8 Josh Martinez (AF), 6-5
133 - Dylan Hyder (AF) Dec. Chasen Tolbert (UVU), 7-3
141 - Avery Garner (UVU) Dec. Carter McElhany (AF), 6-5
149 - Josh Wilson (UVU) Major Dec. Logan Burch (AF), 14-6
157 - Josh Kreimier (AF) Dec. Ethan Smith (UVU), 2-1
165 - Abner Cook (UVU) Dec. Jesse Stafford (AF), 3-0
174 - Monte Schmalhaus (UVU) Dec. Dan Barringer (AF), 3-2
184 - Devin Hightower (AF) Dec. Derek Thomas (UVU), 4-1
197 - David Prieto (UVU) Dec. Josh Mohr (AF), 5-3
285 - Adam Fager (UVU) Major Dec. Bentley Alsup (AF), 17-6
Exhibition (141) - Zach Stephan (AF) Major Dec. Sam Mecham (UVU), 16-7