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Utah Valley briefs

WRESTLING: The Wolverines took care of business in its final regular season action Wednesday night at Northern Colorado as the Wolverines (10-3, 4-1) downed the Bears (3-13, 2-4) on their senior night, 25-10 in Greeley, Colo.

"This was a big win for us," UVU head coach Greg Williams said. "Wyatt (Ray) and Ben's (Kjar) matches were huge. The guys have practiced at an extremely hard pace the past three weeks so I am proud of their mental toughness tonight. This will help us fine-tune and peak for the upcoming conference meet."

In the most anticipated match of the night, UVU's Benjamin Kjar (ranked 11th by InterMat) went up against rival 125-pounder Tony Mustari. The match didn't disappoint as it took overtime to decide the victor. In the sixth period, Kjar scored an escape point to defeat Mustari as the Wolverine won by decision, 6-5.

Mustari got on the board first scoring a takedown but Kjar was able to free his hold and score an escape right before the end of the first period. Trailing 2-1, Kjar reversed Mustari's hold in the second to go up 3-2. To begin the third, Mustari escaped Kjar to tie the score at three-all. Kjar then answered with a takedown but Mustari quickly followed with a big escape. With the escape and riding time for Mustari the match headed to a sudden victory overtime as it was tied at five-all. After two scoreless overtime periods, Kjar picked up the escape and the win.

With UNC's Brett Bahe (133 pounds) leading 5-0 in the second, UVU's Flint Ray scored a takedown to cut the deficit to 5-2 heading into the third. Ray scored an escape and a reversal in the final period but it wasn't enough as he fell to Bahe by decision, 7-5.

With UNC leading 6-3 on the team score, UVU redshirt-freshman Wyatt Ray (141) picked up a huge win over the Bears' Kenny Hashimoto to tie the score at six. Ray took the early 2-0 lead over Hashimoto as he scored a quick takedown. Hashimoto then tied the score early in the second at two-apiece. Ray picked up an escape point in the third and a takedown to go up 5-2. Ray held on to spoil Hashimoto's senior night as he beat him by decision, 5-4. Hashimoto is ranked 12th in the RPI and 21st in the coaches' panel.

At 149 pounds, UVU's Justin Morrill gave the Wolverines the 9-6 lead as he defeated UNC's Justin Gonzales by decision, 7-1. Morrill scored quickly as he took down Gonzales in the first. In the second Morrill then extended his lead to 6-1. Morrill then held on to his lead in the third and with over a minute of riding time won by the 7-1 score.

Northern Colorado's Justin Gaethje (157) then regained the overall lead for the Bears, 10-9, as he defeated the Wolverines' Jamison Moss by major decision 12-0.

UVU's Jeb Clark then (165) answered right back as he defeated UNC's Kevin O'Brien by major decision, 15-2. Clark took the upper hand early as he scored a takedown and a three-point near fall in the opening period. After an escape and a takedown, Clark got close to pinning O'Brien for the second time in the bout as he scored another near fall to lead 11-0. In the final period Clark secured his major decision victory and gave UVU the 13-10 overall lead.

At 174 pounds, Utah Valley's Brad Darrington gave UVU the 16-10 lead as he won his match by decision over Northern Colorado's Brandon Kammerzell. With Darrington leading 2-0 after one, the UVU sophomore extended his lead to 6-1 after picking up a reversal and a takedown in the second. Kammerzell then cut the deficit in half as he scored a takedown to cut it to 6-3. Darrington then extended his lead in the third and held on to win by decision, 9-3..

In an all freshmen battle at 184 pounds, UVU's Monte Schmalhaus helped the Wolverines secure the dual victory as he won his match by decision over UNC's Patrick Prentice. Schmalhaus took a 3-2 lead after the end of one. Schmalhaus then built his lead up to 6-2 in the second period after scoring an escape and takedown. Schmalhaus won by the score of 7-2.

In the final matchup UVU's Josh Wood (197) scored early and often against UNC's Ed Matthews and eventually pinned Matthews in the second period to win his match by fall (3:33). Before the fall Wood was leading the bout 12-0.

The bout began at heavyweight with UVU's Casen Eldredge going up against the much heavier Justin Tuell of UNC. The match was scoreless up until midway through the second when Tuell scored a two-point near fall. Eldredge countered right back with an escape point to trail by only one. In the end, Tuell held on to beat Eldredge by decision, 4-1.

The victory over the Bears marked the conclusion of UVU's regular season as well as the second consecutive year that the Wolverines finished with a 10 or more win season. The 4-1-conference record also secures UVU at least a second place finish in the regular season Western Wrestling Conference standings.

Now Utah Valley will head to the NCAA West Regional/WWC Championships, on March 6, in Brookings, S.D., for the first time in school history. There the Wolverines will be trying to qualify as many grapplers as they can to get them to the NCAA Championships. The championships will be held this year in Omaha, Neb., March 18-20.

MEN'S BASKETBALL: The Wolverines will have their hands full Thursday night when they travel to Vermillion, S.D., for a meeting with Great West Conference leader South Dakota. The game tips at 7 p.m. MT in the DakotaDome.

The Coyotes (14-9, 5-1) have won their last five games and eight of their last nine. Their lone conference loss came to Utah Valley, 86-68, on Jan. 21 in Orem, in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

"South Dakota is the hottest team in the conference. They are playing very well in all facets of the game and playing with a lot of confidence," UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. "We'll need to put together one of our best efforts of the season to compete with them."

In their first meeting, Utah Valley used a 18-3 run late in the first half to turn a three-point deficit into a 12-point lead and then cruised to the 86-68 victory over the Coyotes.

Shawn Deadwiler led four UVU players to score in double figures with a career-high 23 points, while Eric Dearden scored a career-high 11 points and Tyray Petty and Aaron England added 10 each in a game in which the Wolverines scored a season-high 86 points.

The Wolverines trailed by as many as eight points with 10:02 left in the first half. An 8-2 UVU run capped by a 3-pointer by Dearden cut the USD lead to two with 7:46 left in the half.

The Wolverines (11-13, 4-4) have won two of their last three contests.

Tyler Cain leads three Coyotes who score in double figures at 15 points a game. He is also averaging 9.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. Jake Thomas is averaging 13.3 points, while Roman Gentry is averaging 12.8 points per contest.

Jordan Swarbrick leads the Wolverines in scoring at 13 points and Justin Baker is averaging 10.4.

The game can be heard live on 1400 AM.

TRACK AND FIELD: UVU freshman Allah Laryea-Akrong was named the Great West Conference indoor track & field male athlete of the week for the second time on the indoor season after he broke two school records last Saturday.

Last Saturday at the Boise State Team Invitational, Laryea-Akrong had another stellar day for the Wolverines as he broke his own school record in the men's 200m dash as well was a member of the 4x400m relay team that set a new school record in that event as well. The short-sprinter from Ghana won the 200 with a blazing time of 21.50 (school record), his relay team placed second overall in the 4x400 as they finished with a time of 3:17.18 (school record), and he also tied Utah State's Mike Pyrtle for second place in the 60 (6.83).

Laryea-Akrong was previously named the GWC indoor track & field athlete of the week back on Jan. 22.

South Dakota's Rob Gregoire was named the co-male athlete of the week this week as USD's Emma Erickson took home the female honors.

UVU will have its final indoor season tune-up at the Wildcat Open at Weber State Saturday, Feb. 20, before heading to the GWC Indoor Championships in Vermillion, S.D. Feb. 26-27.