UVU wrestling: Wolverine junior Josh Wilson qualifies for NCAA Championships

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, March 5 2012 8:53 a.m. MST

UVU's Josh Wilson holds down UNI's Ryan Jauch en route to his second place finish at the NCAA West Regional in Cedar Falls, Iowa on Sunday. Wilson qualified for the NCAA Championships.

Mike Smith/MatShots

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Utah Valley University junior Josh Wilson punched his ticket to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships by placing second at the NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Championships Sunday at the McLeod Center.

"Josh has had to battle through an injury and walking pneumonia the past month or two, and I'm really proud of the way that he come out and competed today," said UVU head coach Greg Williams. "He came here to win it and got pretty close. He's wrestling well and is feeling strong again right at the right time. He'll be ready to go back to Nationals and we feel like he has a chance to go there and do some good."

In all UVU had its most competitors place at the conference tournament in history as eight of the 10 Wolverine wrestlers placed in the top 4. Coming into the tournament Utah Valley had just three guys seeded in the top four.

"We wrestled very well. We way out-performed what was expected of us coming into the tournament," Williams said. "I feel like our guys grew up a little bit out there today and showed me that they are all close. We have a young team and I felt like our guys progressed well this season. I think they all have a lot to be proud of."

Behind Wilson, UVU's Avery Garner (141 pounds) and Ethan Smith (165) placed third while Colby Christensen (125), Blake Mangum (133), Monte Schmalhaus (174), Brian Chamberlain (197) and Dustin Dennison (285) all placed fourth.

Out of the seven WWC schools competing at the conference tournament hosted by the University of Northern Iowa, UVU came in fifth place with 43.5 points. Overall the No. 11 Wyoming Cowboys, who won the regular season title with a perfect 6-0 dual record, won their third straight regional title with 93 points. Northern Iowa finished second with 76 points, while North Dakota State placed third (51.5), Air Force fourth (50.5), Northern Colorado sixth (36.5) and South Dakota State seventh (5).

Four Wolverines reached the semis on the day as Garner, Wilson, Smith and Schmalhaus all advanced into their respective semifinals. Wilson, who entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and was ranked 15th nationally, was the lone Wolverine to advance into the championship bout, however.

Wilson drew a first-round bye to advance into the semis. In the semifinal, Wilson took care of business as he dominated UNI's Ryan Jauch from start to finish in a 9-0 major decision. The win gave Wilson a spot in the finals against the No. 1 seed and third-ranked Cole VonOhlen from Air Force.

In the championship bout Wilson and VonOhlen entered the second period scoreless. Wilson then was the first to get on the board in the second by picking up an escape point midway through the frame. VonOhlen then tied the score at 1-1 with an escape of his own at the start of the third.

With VonOhlen having more than a minute of riding time in his favor Wilson looked for a late takedown. The UVU junior came very close to getting it but instead VonOhlen landed a late takedown and a riding time point to defeat Wilson 4-1. The loss entered Wilson into a true second-place match against NDSU's Mark Erickson to see who would get the second bid to the NCAA Championships.

In the true second-place bout, Wilson controlled the match and only gave up a late escape point to Erickson to win 6-1 and earn his first-ever trip to nationals.

Garner opened his outing with an 8-6 win over SDSU's Dustin Walraven to advance to the semis. In the semifinals Garner battled with the No. 2 seed from Northern Colorado, Casey Cruz, but Garner ended up dropping the contest 5-2 to fall to the wrestlebacks. The UVU sophomore bounced back in the consolation semis with a 9-4 win over NDSU's Tyler Diamond to advance to the third-place bout.

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