Utah Valley University pulled out an 18-15 victory in its Western Wrestling Conference opener over South Dakota State on Thursday afternoon in the PE Building as senior Monte Schmalhaus managed to pull out the decisive final match.
With the score tied at 15-15 after the first nine bouts, Schmalhaus and John Nething II squared off in a winner-take-all, 174-pound bout. Schmalhaus took an early lead with a takedown midway through the first period. An escape in the second period kept Schmalhaus in front despite a Nething takedown in the same frame. With the score 3-2 entering the third period, Schmalhaus clinched the win for UVU with an escape and a late takedown to earn a 6-2 decision. The decisive three points settled things in favor of the Wolverines, 18-15, and made Utah Valley 1-0 in the young Western Wrestling Conference season. It also gave the Jacks their first WWC defeat.
"It was a great win and we're glad that Monte was able to seal the deal for us. He wrestled well tonight and did a nice job of getting the job done when it mattered the most," UVU assistant coach Justin Ruiz said. "We had a few opportunities earlier in the contest where we could've pulled out a couple of major decisions that would've given us a little larger cushion. But overall I was pleased that the majority of our guys fought hard and really got after it."
Opening the match at 184-pounds, UVU's (5-6) Ethan Smith and SDSU's (3-6, 2-1 WWC) Ben Schwery needed double overtime to decide the bout. Tied at 1-1 after each registered an escape within regulation, the stalemate stood through an overtime period and the first tiebreaker when Smith rode Schwery out, not allowing an escape. In the second tiebreaker, Smith was able to clinch the victory when he tallied an escape in the waning seconds to grab a 2-1 win.
The Jackrabbits' Trey Hable opened the 197-pound bout with a takedown of Utah Valley's Derek Thomas, but Thomas manufactured an escape late in the first period and again in the second to make the score 2-2 entering the third and final round. Hable regained the lead with an escape to start the frame, but Thomas grabbed a 4-3 advantage with a two-point takedown. Another Hable escape in the final minute left things all square at 4-4 with under 30 seconds to go. With the clock ticking under 10 seconds, Thomas exploded for another takedown to seal the bout 6-4 and double the Wolverine team lead at 6-0.
An SDSU pin in the heavyweight bout promptly tied the dual at 6-apiece, but 17th-ranked Jade Rauser (125 pounds) put UVU back in front with a 9-4 decision over Ben Gillette of SDSU. Rauser did the bulk of his work in the first period, using a takedown and a three-point nearfall to take a 5-1 lead. Things got interesting in the third round when Gillette battled back to within one at 5-4, but Rauser took the win with an escape, a takedown and an additional point after two minutes of riding time.
Chasen Tolbert (133) then extended the Wolverine advantage to 12-6 after earning a 9-4 decision over Brance Simms. Tolbert held a 7-1 third period lead over Simms, ultimately earning the decision by five points after a late escape and over 3:30 worth of riding time.
The reigning WWC Wrestler of the Week Avery Garner started the 141-pound bout with a bang, claiming two points after a swift takedown of SDSU's Eric Orozco. An escape and another takedown put Garner ahead 5-0 entering the third period where one more takedown put the bout out of reach. Garner went on to claim an 8-4 decision behind almost three minutes of riding time.
That decision put UVU ahead 15-6 — a lead that quickly vanished as SDSU took the next three bouts by decision. Alex Kocer topped Trevor Willson in the 149-pound bout, 17th-ranked Cody Pack prevailed over Chase Cuthbertson at 157 pounds, and Joe Brewster used a two-point reversal in the first tiebreaker period to defeat Curtis Abner Cook at 165 pounds momentarily tie the dual.
In all, UVU managed to win six of the 10 bouts to take the contest by three points over South Dakota State.
The win by the Wolverines marked Utah Valley's seventh straight dual victory over the Jacks.
UVU will have a quick turnaround as it will continue conference action against No. 20 North Dakota State on Friday at 7 p.m. in the PE Building. The contest will not only mark Senior Night for Utah Valley but also the Wolverines' final home regular season dual of the season.
"The North Dakota State dual will be tough. Every match will be a battle for seeding for the upcoming conference tournament and also to see if our guys can knock off a couple of ranked opponents," Ruiz said. "They (NDSU) are a very talented team and we've definitely got to bring our `A' game to finish on top."
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit www.WolverineGreen.com.