OREM, Utah — For the third year in a row, Utah Valley University will be represented at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. This year, UVU junior Josh Wilson (149 pounds) has punched his ticket and will head to St. Louis to look to become the program's second All-American.
The three-day, six-session NCAA Championships will take place at the Scottrade Center from Thursday to Saturday. All six sessions will be broadcast live by the ESPN family of networks. The entire tournament can be seen on WatchESPN.com with ESPN and ESPNU covering rounds as well. Both Friday sessions will air live on ESPNU. Saturday morning's session will also air live on ESPNU, and the National Finals will air live on ESPN.
Wilson qualified for nationals by placing second in his weight class at the NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Championships on March 4 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Wolverine junior went 2-1 at the event, and his lone loss was a 4-1 setback to Cole VonOhlen, the champion and third-ranked grappler from Air Force.
The appearance will be Wilson's first-ever trip to the NCAA Championships. He went 18-9 overall on the season and was ranked 15th in his weight class in the last InterMat poll. Wilson also landed 17th in the final RPI and 18th on the final Coaches' Panel Ranking.
The Morgan, Utah, native is no stranger to national caliber tournaments, however, as he placed fifth at the prestigious Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and sixth at the Midlands Championships earlier this season.
Each weight class consists of 33 wrestlers with the top 12 being seeded in each bracket. Wilson will enter unseeded and has received a tough draw, as he will begin against Missouri's Kyle Bradley (21-11) in the wrestle-in match. The winner of that contest will then take on second-seeded and undefeated Jamal Parks (30-0) of Oklahoma State in the round of 32, while the loser will drop down into the wrestleback bracket.
The opening session will begin Thursday at 10 a.m. MST and can be seen live at WatchESPN.com. The second session will start Thursday at 5:30 p.m. MST.
For the past two seasons, UVU has sent three wrestlers to the big show each time as Benjamin Kjar (125), Flint Ray (133) and Brad Darrington made it in 2010, and Kjar, Ray and Justin Morrill (141) competed at nationals in 2011.
Last season, Kjar, who was then a senior, put Utah Valley on the national scene by taking the tournament by storm. Kjar went from being unseeded to finishing fourth at 125 pounds to make him UVU's first-ever wrestling All-American. Through his impressive tournament run he made it all the way to the semis and gave the eventual champion and undefeated Anthony Robles of Arizona State his closest match of the season, at 4-2. Overall, Kjar went 4-2 to earn his fourth-place finish with wins over the No. 4, No. 5 and No. 7 seeds.
For ticket information for this weekend's NCAA Championships, visit Ticketmaster.com or call the Scottrade Center ticket office at 314-622-5400.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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