Utah Valley Wrestling: Wolverines building through youth
When it comes to Utah Valley wrestling, think young.
Really young, as in 11 freshmen and 10 sophomores on the 27-man roster. So, there are unknowns the Wolverines begin their dual season Saturday at the Campbell University Duals in Buies Creek, N.C.
On Sunday, Utah Valley will compete in North Carolina State's Wolfpack Open.
Coach Greg Williams, now in his seventh season at UVU, believes his freshmen, nine of whom are coming off a redshirt year, are loaded with potential.
"We know that it is a special group and these guys are going to accomplish some really great things during their time here at UVU," Williams said. "This season will be kind of an unknown for us as we are very young...they haven't really faced tough competition yet."
UVU opens its home season Jan. 4 against Wyoming. The Wolverines also have home matches with Arizona State and Stanford.
Williams does return eight starters from last year's team, which finished with a dual meet record of 6-10 overall and 1-5 in the Western Wrestling Conference.
The Wolverines also have veteran leadership in Josh Wilson, one of the two returning seniors. Wilson, who has been battling injuries to start the season, competed in the NCAA Championships last season at 149 pounds.
At the recently completed Cowboy Open at the University of Wyoming, juniors Abner Cook (165 pounds) and Monte Schmalhaus (174) went 4-0 to claim individual titles.
Even the talent on the UVU coaching staff was upgraded. Williams added Justin Ruiz, recently inducted into the Utah Wrestling Hall of Fame, to his staff. Ruiz was a the three-time Utah state champion while at Taylorsville High School and a bronze medalist at the 2005 World Championships.
"We've never had this much talent in the room before," Williams said. "The program is progressing and we're very pleased with the direction that it is going."
Smith First Griffin Named All-District
Soccer player Ryan Smith was a star in and out of the classroom, the perfect recipe to become the first athlete in any sport from Westminster College to be selected All-District 7.
Smith, a junior from Riverton, scored a team-high nine goals including five game winners with three assists. The education major also sports a 3.49 cumulative grade point average.
To be nominated, the student-athlete must have started or was an important reserve with at least a 3.30 GPA.