OREM, Utah – Benjamin Kjar pinned Air Force’s Tyler Spangler in the final match Friday evening to give Utah Valley a 23-20 win over the Falcons on senior day in Orem. The win upped UVU’s record to 4-3 overall and 2-1 in Western Wrestling Conference action, while the loss dropped AFA to 10-4 and 2-2 in the WWC.
Entering the final bout of the dual, UVU found itself trailing 20-17 with Kjar ready to hit the mat striving to send the Wolverine fans home happy. The 13th ranked Kjar didn’t disappoint as he immediately took control of the match with three early takedowns in the first period.
On the third takedown, Kjar caught Spangler in a cradle and quickly pinned him just 1:41 into the match to give UVU the victory. Kjar, who is UVU’s all-time wins leader with 120 career wins, accomplished a huge individual milestone with the win, as he managed to go his entire four-year collegiate career without losing a home match.
“I wish all five of our seniors would have been able to win tonight but we’ll take the victory,” UVU head coach Greg Williams said. “The bookends were great tonight. Flint started it and Ben finished it, as they both got those big pins. We’re proud of them and we’re proud of the whole team.”
The dual began at 133 pounds and No. 13 Flint Ray got the Wolverines off to a solid start as he pinned Derek Gillespie in the first period. Ray took command early with a quick takedown and then he followed it up by getting Gillespie on his back and pinning him at the 2:51 mark.
With UVU leading 6-0, Air Force’s Cole VonOhlen, ranked 11th in the country, answered for the Falcons by pinning senior Justin Morrill (2:48) to knot the team score at 6-all.
Josh Wilson then gave the Wolverines a 9-6 lead by picking up a hard fought 5-2 win over Josh Kreimier. The Falcons then went back ahead on the scoreboard when Alec Williams defeated UVU’s Richard Winger by major decision, 13-5.
At 165 pounds UVU’s Jeb Clark then gave AFA’s Clayton Gable a wrestling clinic as he defeated him by technical fall 15-0. Clark wound up securing the tech fall with a takedown with just one second left in the bout.
With the Wolverines now in front 14-10, AFA’s 174 and 184-pounders Joseph Stafford and Kazden Ikehara won back-to-back decisions to give the lead back to the Falcons at 16-14.
In the 174-pound match the bout went down to the wire as UVU’s Brad Darrington scored a big reversal at the end of the second to tie the match. With the match all tied at 4-4 in the third Stafford managed to pick up an escape point and riding time to win the bout, 6-4. At 184 pounds UVU senior Casen Eldredge did all he could to defeat Ikehara and pick up a win on senior night as the match stayed close until the final minute. But in the end Ikehara won 6-1
With the Wolverines now down 16-14 entering the 197-pound match freshman Trevor Rupp wrestled the match of his young career to put the Wolverines back ahead. Rupp and AFA’s Neil Delaney seemingly matched one another move for move as the bout headed to sudden victory overtime all tied at 1-1. Midway through the first overtime period, Rupp managed to grab hold of Delaney and spin him onto the ground to pick up a takedown and a 3-1 victory.
At heavyweight Utah-native Jared Erickson for the Falcons defeated UVU’s Christian Denny by major decision 10-2 to give Air Force a 20-17 lead heading into the final match.
In all, UVU won five of the ten matches and three of the five by bonus points. The three wins by bonus points all came from seniors on senior night too.
The Wolverines will conclude their regular season Feb. 18 and 19 when they head to the Dakotas to take on conference rivals South Dakota State and North Dakota State.
Following those final two duals, 10 UVU wrestlers will look to punch their tickets to the NCAA Championships at the NCAA Regional/WWC Championships on March 6, at Air Force.
Utah Valley – 23, Air Force – 20
133 – No. 13 Flint Ray (UVU) FALL Derek Gillespie (AFA), 2:51
141 – No. 11 Cole VonOhlen (AFA) FALL Justin Morrill (UVU), 2:48
149 – Josh Wilson (UVU) DEC Joshua Kreimier (AFA), 5-2
157 – Alec Williams (AFA) MD Richard Winger (UVU), 13-5
165 – Jeb Clark (UVU) TF5 Clayton Gable (AFA), 15 – 0 (6:59)
174 – Joseph Stafford (AFA) DEC Brad Darrington (UVU), 6-4
184 – Kazden Ikehara (AFA) DEC Casen Eldredge (UVU), 6-1
197 – Trevor Rupp (UVU) DEC Neil Delaney (AFA), 3-1 (SV1)
285 – Jared Erickson (AFA) MD Christian Denny (UVU), 10-2
125 – Benjamin Kjar (UVU) FALL Tyler Spangler (AFA), 1:41
Courtesy of James Warnick, Utah Valley University Athletics, Asst. Sports Information Director