Despite back-to-back wins by Derek Thomas and Adam Fager in the final two bouts of the contest, the Utah Valley wrestling team couldn't overcome an early forfeit as it fell to Arizona State on Saturday in Tempe, 18-16.
After senior Monte Schmalhaus and junior Ethan Smith dropped their respective matches at 174 and 184 pounds, the Wolverines (3-6) found themselves trailing the Sun Devils, 18-10, with just two matches to go. Thomas then gave UVU a chance as he picked up a late takedown over ASU's Luke Bean for a 3-1 win, which pulled the Wolverines within five at 18-13, with the nationally ranked Fager still to wrestle.
Fager, who is currently ranked 13th in the country at heavyweight, needed to defeat ASU's Chace Eskam by fall to overcome the five-point deficit on the team score. After allowing Eskam an escape point early in the second period, Fager immediately followed with a single-leg takedown to take a 2-1 lead. After letting Eskam go, the Wolverine junior then managed to take him down again, this time via a double-leg to take a 5-2 lead at the end of the second period as he also received an additional stall point. Fager then picked up an escape point as well as another takedown in the final period to defeat the ASU foe 8-2. But in the end it wasn't enough as UVU dropped the dual by a mere two points.
"A lot of the guys wrestled well and pushed the pace for all three periods. There were also a couple of matches that we could've done a better job finishing," head coach Greg Williams said. "Overall I felt like we wrestled pretty well, but we would've liked to have had someone at 125.”
After taking a forfeit to begin the dual at 125 pounds, consecutive wins by sophomore Chasen Tolbert (133 pounds) and senior Avery Garner (141) gave Utah Valley a 7-6 advantage as Tolbert defeated Kalin Goodsite by decision and Garner picked up a major decision over Matthew Kraus. Back-to-back wins by the Sun Devils (5-4) - who are currently receiving votes in the Top 25 - at 149 and 157 pounds, gave ASU a 12-7 lead midway through the contest.
A 5-3 win by senior Curtis Abner Cook at 165 pounds then pulled Utah Valley to within two at 12-10, but Arizona State took its 18-10 advantage with wins from Raymond Waters (174) and Blake Stauffer (184). During the opening period of Cook's match, he had ASU's Nickolas Rex on his back and looked to have secured the pin, but the official didn't see it that way as no fall was awarded.
Both teams won five bouts apiece in the contest but the six-point forfeit proved to be the difference.
The Wolverines will take on their second straight Pac-12 foe on Saturday, Feb. 1, when Boise State will come to Orem. The dual will begin at 7 p.m. in the PE Building and will be televised locally on UVU TV.
"Boise State is always an exciting match because they are kind of our rivals," Williams said. "We're looking forward to having them out and hopefully we'll be ready to go."
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.