Dec. 30, 2011
EVANSTON, Ill. - Utah Valley University junior Josh Wilson (149 pounds) led the Wolverine wrestling team at the Midlands Championships by placing sixth at the prestigious tournament hosted by Northwestern on Friday. It marked the second straight national caliber tournament that Wilson placed in the top sixth, after he finished in fifth at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational a couple of weeks ago.
After falling in the quarterfinals to the No. 2-seed and former-Purdue great Jake Patacsil Thursday evening, the No. 7-seed and 13th-ranked Wilson entered day two of the tournament against the No. 8-seed Steven Robertson from Penn. Wilson took care of business against Robertson, as he defeated him 6-2. Wilson then found himself matched up against the No. 5-seed and ninth-ranked Cole Schmitt of Wisconsin in the consolation semis and Wilson continued his hot tournament run by knocking off the higher ranked foe, 8-3.
With the win over Schmitt, Wilson then took on the No. 4-seed and 12th-ranked Nick Lester from Oklahoma with the winner advancing to the third-place match. The bout was tight right down until the end but the higher ranked Lester squeaked out a 4-3 victory to send Wilson to the fifth-place match. In the fifth-place bout, Wilson then squared off against Iowa's Mike Kelly and Wilson wrestled Kelly right to the wire. Wilson ended up placing sixth, as Kelly pulled out a one-point decision over him, 3-2.
After going 2-1 on Thursday, Wilson ended his tournament run with a 4-3 record.
"Josh had a great tournament and is wrestling well," said UVU head coach Greg Williams. "He felt like he should have won those last two one-point matches but you're not going to win all of those close ones against top competition. Our schedule has really worked out well for him. Facing all of these ranked opponents will really help him prepare for Nationals."
Also in action for UVU on Friday was sophomore 141-pounder Avery Garner. After dropping a 6-1 match to the No. 1 wrestler in the nation, Montell Marion of Iowa in the quarters on Thursday, Garner had to then take on the No. 2 wrestler in the country on Friday in Penn's Zack Kemmerer. Garner gave Kemmerer a battle but in the end Kemmerer ended Garner's tournament by defeating the Wolverine grappler, 11-4.
Garner finished just one-win shy of placement at Midlands. Overall he compiled a 3-2 record at the tournament.
Eight other Wolverine wrestlers competed at the Midlands Championships but didn't make it to Friday. Despite not making it to the second day of the tournament, Derek Malan (133) and Monte Schmalhaus (174) both had solid outings as they each picked up multiple wins. Malan finished going 3-2, while Schmalhaus went 2-2.
In the team score race, UVU finished in 24th place out of 43 teams with 23.5 points. Iowa won the tournament, while host-Northwestern came in second and Oklahoma placed third.
Utah Valley will now come home to host the annual UVU Open at the Activity Center on Saturday, Jan. 7. Following the open, the Wolverines will then welcome Boise State to Orem on Jan. 12 for their first home dual of the season.
"We're looking forward to coming home, and the upcoming match against Boise State will be a fun one," Williams added. "There are a lot of ties between the community and Boise. Despite being young, they again have a talented and loaded lineup and will be tough to beat. The fans that come out should see a good match and will also get the chance to see us and our up-and-coming talent that we have."