After a three-week break from competition, the Utah Valley University wrestling team will head to Evanston, Ill., to return to the mat at the 51st annual Midlands Championships. The big-time collegiate tournament will take place Sunday, Dec. 29 and Monday, Dec. 30 at Northwestern's Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Sunday's opening session of wrestling will begin at 9:30 a.m. CT, while session number two will take place that evening at 7. The action will continue Monday with the third session (semifinals and consolation matches/seventh-place bouts) at noon. The finals will then air live on the Big Ten Network Monday at 8 p.m. Third and fifth-place bouts will also take place during the final session.
Results from the Midlands Championships can be found after each session by visiting NU Sports website.
The Wolverines haven't competed since early December, when they took part at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Junior heavyweight Adam Fager led the way for Utah Valley by placing fourth at the renowned tournament. Fager, who entered the tourney as the 12-seed, knocked off three higher seeded/ranked foes en route to his placement. The fourth-place finish marked the highest-ever placement by a Wolverine at the CKLV Invite.
After his big showing in Las Vegas three weeks ago, Fager jumped all the way from unranked to 13th in the nation at 285 pounds (by InterMat). The 2013 NCAA qualifier will enter Midlands seeded eighth in his weight class.
Also wrestling for the Wolverines at Midlands will be redshirt freshman Bracken Nipko (125 pounds), sophomore Chasen Tolbert (133), senior Avery Garner (141), sophomore Trevor Willson (149), senior Monte Schmalhaus (174), junior Ethan Smith (184) and sophomore Derek Thomas (197).
Following the two-day tournament, UVU (2-5) will return to Orem for its first home dual of the season as it will welcome Grand Canyon to the PE Building on Jan. 9. The Wolverines will then host the seventh annual UVU Open two days later.
UVU's Midlands Championship lineup
125: Bracken Nipko, RFr. (5-8)
133: Chasen Tolbert, So. (5-6)
141: Avery Garner, Sr. (5-4)
149: Trevor Willson, So. (2-8)
174: Monte Schmalhaus, Sr. (0-4)
184: Ethan Smith, Jr. (4-5)
197: Derek Thomas, So. (7-9)
285: No. 13 Adam Fager, Jr. (9-4)
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.