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UVU wrestling: Wilson leads UVU by placing eighth at Midlands Championships

By James Warnick

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Dec. 31 2012 12:06 a.m. MST

UVU senior Josh Wilson looks to pin North Dakota State's Mark Erickson at the UCCU Center in Orem on Feb. 10, 2012.

Kelly Linde, UVU Athletics

Enlarge photo»

EVANSTON, Ill. - Senior 149-pounder Josh Wilson led the Utah Valley University wrestling team by placing eighth at the 50th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern University on Sunday. This marks the second consecutive season that Wilson placed in the top-eight at the prestigious tournament.

After going 4-1 on Saturday, Wilson continued his tournament run Sunday by upsetting the No. 7 seed and 16th-ranked David Habat of Edinboro in his first match. Wilson defeated Habat with a 7-3 decision to clinch his placement finish at Midlands. The UVU senior, who entered the tournament as the eight-seed, then matched up against the No. 6 seed and 12th-ranked Eric Grajales of Michigan in the consolation semis. Wilson fell to Grajales by decision (8-4) to enter into the seventh-place bout against a familiar opponent in the No. 9 seed Shane Welsh from Lehigh who he previously wrestled Saturday.

Wilson, who lost to Welsh 5-2 in the third-round Saturday, fell again to the Lehigh grappler this time by a score of 3-0 to finish his tournament run in eighth place.

Wilson finished the 2012 Midlands Championships with a 5-3 record.

"Josh wrestled well through the tournament," head coach Greg Williams said. "He wrestled a lot of tough kids. A couple of them didn't go his way but it will give him something to go back and work on. He had a great win over Habat from Edinboro and was right with Grajales of Michigan. Overall he wrestled well but there are a lot of things that we can take away from this to get better on between now and Nationals."

UVU also had four other grapplers compete for it at Midlands but they all had their tournament runs cut short Saturday. Redshirt freshman Jade Rauser (125 pounds) finished with a 2-2 record, while sophomore David Prieto (197) went 1-2 and both sophomore Ethan Smith (157) and junior Abner Cook (165) finished with 0-2 records.

"As a team there were some key things that showed that we need to work on," added Williams. "We've got to get better on the mat. All of the guys competed but there are some definite things that we need to get better at. But that is what this tournament does. It shows you where you need to be to be ready for Nationals."

Despite having just half a team in competition, UVU placed 29th out of 48 teams with 15 points. Illinois won the tournament with 99.5 points as it just edged out Virginia Tech who placed second with 97.5 points.

UVU will now come home to begin its Western Wrestling Conference dual season at the PE Building on Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. against No. 16 Wyoming. The Wolverines will then host the sixth annual UVU Open on Jan. 5.

James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.

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