Utah Valley University cruised in its home opener Thursday night, topping Grand Canyon, 28-9, at the PE Building. The Wolverines claimed victories in eight of 10 matches on the night, including a win by 13th-ranked heavyweight Adam Fager.
"Grand Canyon is solid throughout their lineup so I knew that tonight was going to be a battle at every weight class," Wolverine head coach Greg Williams said. "I didn't feel like we corrected everything that we've been working on in the room over the past couple of weeks, but overall the guys wrestled hard and I was pleased with the outcome."
With the score knotted at 9-9 after four bouts, Chase Cuthbertson took to the mat in the 157-pound match looking to put UVU (3-5) back out in front entering the second half of the dual. The sophomore jumped out to a 6-3 advantage after one period against Gavin Ludwig. Ludwig got to within a point after a reversal in the second period, but Cuthbertson pushed things back to a two-point advantage with an escape late in the frame. That lead grew to 10-5 after another escape and a takedown as Cuthbertson went on to win 11-5, giving the Wolverines a 12-9 lead.
The victory set off a string of six straight UVU wins as another Wolverine win by decision, this time from Curtis Abner Cook over Juan Carlos Maynes at 165 saw Utah Valley extend its lead to 15-9 with four bouts still to go. Cook picked up his third dual win of the season with a 9-4 decision.
Wrestling at 174 pounds, Monte Schmalhaus got off to a quick 2-0 lead with a takedown of Grand Canyon's Martin Fabbian. That slim advantage grew to 5-0 in the second period as Schmalhaus entered the third and final period guaranteed a point in riding time. Three, third-round takedowns got Schmalhaus to 11-2 and one final point after 4:57 of riding time settled the major decision, 12-3, as UVU went ahead at 19-9.
Then, facing 16-9 GCU freshman Austin Gaun, UVU's Ethan Smith took a 3-1 lead into the third period of the 184-pound match. Gaun earned a pair of escapes during the final stretch, but Smith's subsequent takedown proved enough for a 5-3 decision as the Wolverines claimed their fourth straight match to seal the dual with two bouts still remaining.
"We have a good group of guys this year who are working very hard. We've just got to get a little more mentally tough, no matter the situation," Williams said. "If we do those things, we'll be a really good team come March."
Derek Thomas kept things going UVU's way in the 197-pound match, topping Marcus Haughian by decision, 6-2. The win pushed Thomas to an even 11-11 overall this year. The nationally-ranked Fager then closed the night with another Wolverine victory, as he defeated Peter Anguiano by a score of 3-1. The win not only gave UVU a 28-9 victory over the Antelopes (4-4), but it also improved Fager's season tally to 14-6.
A Utah Valley forfeit at 125 put the Wolverines behind 6-0 to start the match, but Chasen Tolbert (133) quickly erased the deficit when he pinned GCU's Lino Estrada in the first period. The sophomore had built a quick 7-0 advantage behind a takedown and a pair of near falls before securing the fall at 2:24 to level things at 6-6.
In the 141-pound bout, Avery Garner broke a scoreless deadlock with a two-point reversal late in the second period. GCU's Austin Solari was able to tie things at 2-2 as the final two minutes ticked away, earning an escape after Garner was cautioned for stalling a second time. But riding time, favoring Garner, proved the difference as the senior improved to 7-6 overall this season behind a 3-2 decision, giving UVU a 9-6 lead with three matches gone.
The dual was a non-conference affair for both squads as the Wolverine wrestling team calls the Western Wrestling Conference home while the `Lopes are operating their first season of competition at the DI level as a Division I Independent.
Utah Valley will host the UVU Open this Saturday before returning to the dual season with a trip to Arizona State on Jan. 18. The Wolverines were victorious against the Sun Devils last season in Orem, winning by a 26-15 margin.
Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.