Oct. 28, 2011
OREM, Utah - After losing All-American Benjamin Kjar and numerous other mainstays in the lineup for the past several years to graduation last year, the Utah Valley Wolverine wrestling team will usher in a new era of wrestling this season as it welcomes a number of highly talented recruits and 20 newcomers in all to the fold.
"In one way we are starting anew and in another way we are building on the foundation that those guys set for the recruits that we brought in," UVU head coach Greg Williams said. "These higher caliber of athletes came because of the success that we've had and what those (past) wrestlers were able to do during their time here. We have a lot of talent in the room this year but as a group we are really young right now."
The 20 newcomers that will make their debuts in Orem this year include three transfers and 17 student-athletes straight out of high school. The three transfers are sophomore Dominic Borelli (165) who comes from Cal State Fullerton, redshirt freshman David Prieto (184) who redshirted at Arizona State last year and Wasatch High School product Ethan Smith (165) who redshirted for Purdue a year ago.
The 17 newcomers out of high school include two sets of twins in Chase (165) and Kyle Cuthbertson (165), Jade (125) and Val Rauser (133) and 13 others in Logan Addis (149), Napoleon Aniciete (157), Brian Chamberlain (197), Dustin Dennison (HWT), Jake Falk (157), Nathan Garcia (125), Sam Graham (165), Cody Hone (133), Jarod Maynes (125), Chris Mayolo (141), Andrew Orr (157), Derek Thomas (174/184) and Jalen Weaver (165).
"Guys are working really hard right now in the room to try to develop that level of intensity, confidence and style that they need to succeed," Williams added. "We're excited about what our newcomers can do. A number of them will be redshirting but a couple of them will be in the starting lineup. We'll be young for a couple of years but when these guys rise to that level and work hard on their technique, we will be a really tough team."
Even though there are no seniors on the 2011-12 squad not every wrestler is a newcomer, as the Wolverines welcome back juniors Eric McAllister (HWT), Glenn Terrano (141), Josh Wilson (149), Richard Winger (157); sophomores Abner Cook (165), Adam Fager (197), Avery Garner (141), Zac Jensen (HWT), Trevor Rupp (197), Monte Schmalhaus (174) and Kyle West (141); and redshirt freshmen Colby Christensen (125), Derek Malan (133), Sam Mecham (141/149) and Phillip Sorensen (197). In all UVU returns four wrestlers that started a dual match a year ago.
"Our number one short-term goal is to get as many of our kids to nationals that we can and for a few of them to place. Right now Josh Wilson is the best suited to accomplish those things as he is wrestling really well. We have some other guys who have some great experience and if they continue to build on that they will have a shot to peak at the end of the year."
"We would love to win conference and have our team finish the season ranked but right now with as young as we are, our goals are more focused about the individuals rather than the team. But with the talent we have on this team right now I feel that it will be a different story in a couple of years."
The young Wolverines will be tested early and often this season as the schedule is one of the toughest to date with top-ranked programs all over it. UVU will square-off against top programs such as Ohio State, Illinois, Boise State, Wyoming, Northern Iowa, Cal Poly, Stanford and last year's defending national champs in Penn State in 2011-12. A number of them will be making the trek to Orem as the Wolverines will welcome Boise State on Jan. 12, Northern Iowa on Jan. 27 and Cael Sanderson's Penn State Nittany Lions on Feb. 11 to UVU.
"We've wanted to have a schedule like this for the last couple of years but it just hasn't worked out until now. We start off right away with two great Big Ten programs in Ohio State and Illinois at the Wrestle for a Cure Duals. We also wrestle two schools in our conference that will be ranked in Wyoming and Northern Iowa as well as tough teams in Stanford and Cal Poly in Palo Alto. Besides hosting Northern Iowa we'll also welcome Boise State and Penn State who are the defending champs and will pretty much have everyone back. It's going to be a great schedule and we are expecting to have at least eight Top-25 teams on it."
The UVU Intrasquad Dual will be a good opportunity for fans to come out and get a chance to see showcase their talents for the first time as it is right around the corner on Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. in the Activity Center. This year's format will be a little different from the past as there will be action taking place on two mats at the same time and nearly 30 matches in all. Multiple battles for starting spots will be going on and admission will be free to the public.
"We are going to keep everyone within their weight classes and we are going to have some really great matches. It won't be like the typical Green and Black Dual that we've had in the past, in most weight classes we'll have two or three matches take place. There will be a lot of young talent being displayed and people will get the chance to see what they can expect to see from UVU for the next couple of years showcased right in front of them," Williams concluded.