Kjar and Clark Both Reach for UVU Placement at the Southern Scuffle
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Utah Valley seniors Benjamin Kjar (125-pounds) and Jeb Clark (165-pounds) led the Wolverine wrestling team at UNC Greensboro's Southern Scuffle this week as they placed third and eighth respectively at the renowned holiday tournament.
"Our upperclassmen wrestled really well," UVU head coach Greg Williams said. "Brad Darrington looked really good for his first action down at 174 and Ben Kjar is starting to get back to his old form. Jeb Clark too looked as good as he's looked as did Justin Morrill. All of our older guys know that they can compete and I feel good about where they are at."
Kjar, the third seed in the tournament who is ranked 14th in the nation (InterMat), advanced to the semis after he won an overtime thriller over 11th ranked Garrett Frey of Princeton in his first match of the day in the quarterfinals. Kjar found himself trailing 5-2 in the bout but he managed to comeback and knot it up at 6-all at the end of regulation. Kjar then was able to score a takedown in the first sudden victory overtime period to win the bout 8-6.
Kjar then advanced to the semis to go head-to-head with the three-time All-American from Minnesota and two seed Zachary Sanders. The bout stayed close the entire way as both grapplers seemingly matched each other move for move. In the end Kjar ended up dropping the tight bout by a slim 2-0 margin.
Kjar then dropped to the consolation semis and downed the 16th ranked Frank Martellotti from Penn State by the score of 6-4 to make it to the third-place match. In the battle for third place Kjar matched up with an old rival in Oregon State's Jason Lara who is ranked No. 20. Kjar avenged an earlier season loss to Lara as he took care of business and defeated the fourth-seeded Beaver 3-2.
On the day Kjar defeated three of the four ranked wrestlers that he matched up with and he also finished with an impressive 5-1 record at the scuffle.
Senior 165-pounder Jeb Clark started off well on Thursday as he made quick work of his first opponent as he pinned Virginia's Nicholas Sulzer (No. 8 seed) just 1:26 into the bout. The win advanced Clark to the consolation quarterfinals.
In the consolation quarters, Clark then squared off with Penn State's Jake Kemmerer, who is ranked No. 17 (WIN Magazine) and seeded seventh. Clark wrestled a flawless match as he downed the higher ranked foe 6-0. Clark then matched up with the fourth seed from The Citadel, Turtogtokh Luvsandorj. Clark ended up getting stunned midway through the first period and Luvsandorj managed to pin him.
With the loss Clark entered the seventh-place match against Kent State's Ross Tice. Clark ended up dropping the decision, 7-2, but still earned the eighth place finish. At the tournament Clark wrestled his way to a 5-3 record.
UVU junior 174-pounder Brad Darrington too made it to day two of the tourney but his first scuffle appearance came to a close Thursday morning when he had to take a medical forfeit against Michigan's Justin Zeerip in his first match of the day. Darrington aggravated a nagging injury in the match and finished his tournament run with a 3-1 mark.
As a team UVU finished with 38 points, which was good enough for 17th place out of 34 squads. What's misleading however is that the Wolverines had just 10 wrestlers in action compared to some teams that had as many as 20.
"If we can get everyone healthy and get our younger guys' confidence up then we will be a really good team," Williams added. "We are excited to start the home season and we definitely will be a fun team to watch."
The Wolverines will now return home for their first dual of the season when they take on conference foe Northern Colorado Friday, Jan 7, at 7 p.m. Utah Valley will then host the annual UVU Open the following day, Saturday, Jan. 8.