Falcons Drop Dual Meets To Utah Valley State, Northern Colorado
Greeley, Colo. - In two of its closest matches of the year, the Air Force wrestling team fell to Utah Valley State, 24-20, and Northern Colorado, 22-18, Thursday in Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. The Falcons finish the regular season at 2-8, while the Wolverines improve to 8-9 on the season and the Bears move to 7-8 on the year.
In the first match of the day, Utah Valley State got out to a 6-0 lead at the conclusion of the 184-pound bout when Ivan Bigney pinned Air Force senior Zane Hershey (Hugoton, Kan.) in a time of 1:21. Brenden McLean (Sr., Merlin, Ore.) put the Falcons on the board at 197 pounds with a 12-3 major decision over Jaime Thornblad, bringing the team score to 6-4.
After Dallin Norton registered a 4-2 decision over Air Force's Frank McGrath (Fr., Hammonton, N.J.) in the heavyweight match, the Wolverines extended their advantage to 15-4 with a forfeit by the Falcons at 125 pounds. At 133 pounds, Erkin Tadzhimetov recorded a fall over the Falcons' Brandon Strong (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) in a time of 3:40, and suddenly Utah Valley State was up 21-4.
At that point, Air Force began its comeback, starting with a win at 141 pounds, where sophomore Jake Kriegbaum (Abilene, Kan.) notched a 5-3 decision over Daniel Polkowske. Then at 149 pounds, Chris Nissen (Jr., Denver, Colo.) registered a fall over Justin Rawle in a time of 2:15 to bring the score to 21-13.
The Wolverines picked up another victory at 157 pounds, as Tanner Cowan notched a 7-2 decision over Bridger Lord (Jr., Missoula, Mont.). Although Zach Lord (Jr., Missoula, Mont.) picked up a 4-3 decision over Devin Siddoway at 165 pounds and Stephen Crozier (Fr., Monona, Iowa) closed out the match with a 10-2 major decision against Garret Story, it was not enough for Air Force to pull out the victory, as the Falcons fell short in the 24-20 loss.
The second match of the day featured Air Force versus host Northern Colorado. This time, Hershey was victorious at 184 pounds, picking up an 8-6 decision over Tim Sexton to give the Falcons a 3-0 lead. The Bears tied the score at 197 pounds, as 20th-ranked Reece Hopkin won a narrow 2-0 decision against McLean, but Air Force regained the lead as McGrath pinned Justin Tuell in a time of 3:40 in the heavyweight match.
The score was again tied with a forfeit by the Falcons at 125 pounds, but Strong registered a 7-0 decision over Kyle Swenson at 133 pounds to put Air Force ahead 12-9. Kriegbaum helped the Falcons extend their advantage with his second victory of the day at 141 pounds, this time a 5-3 decision over Richard Lohr. Then at 149 pounds, Nissen gave Air Force an 18-9 advantage with a 7-1 decision over Kyle LeValley.
However, the Bears began their final comeback, starting with the 157-pound bout. Nathan Gerrard blanked Bridger Lord in a 10-0 major decision to get within five points in the team standings, before Devan Lewis notched a 6-4 decision over Zach Lord at 165 pounds. With Northern Colorado trailing just two points, the 174-bout would decide the fate of the match.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, Crozier was unable to pull off the victory, getting pinned by Shawn Hart in a time of 3:21 to give the Bears the 22-18 dual meet victory.
With the regular season under wraps, the Falcons will next look to earn qualifying bids to the NCAA Championships at next week's NCAA West Regional, being hosted by Wyoming, on Sunday, March 5.
Utah Valley State 24, Air Force 20
184 - Ivan Bigney (UVSC) fall Zane Hershey, 1:21
197 - Brenden McLean (AF) maj. dec. Jaime Thornblad, 12-3
HWT - Dallin Norton (UVSC) dec. Frank McGrath, 4-2
125 - Talon Vickers (UVSC) wins by forfeit
133 - Erkin Tadzhimetov (UVSC) fall Brandon Strong, 3:40
141 - Jake Kriegbaum (AF) dec. Daniel Polkowske, 5-3
149 - Chris Nissen (AF) fall Justin Rawle, 2:15
157 - Tanner Cowan (UVSC) dec. Bridger Lord, 7-2
165 - Zach Lord (AFA) dec. Devin Siddoway, 4-3
174 - Stephen Crozier (AF) maj. dec. Garret Story, 10-2
Northern Colorado 22, Air Force 18
184 -- Zane Hershey (AF) dec. Tim Sexton, 8-6
197 -- #20 Reece Hopkin (UNC) dec. Brenden McLean, 2-0
HWT -- Frank McGrath (AF) pins Justin Tuell, 3:40
125 -- Beau Hessler (UNC) wins by forfeit
133 -- Brandon Strong (AF) dec. Kyle Swenson, 7-0
141 -- Jake Kriegbaum (AF) dec. Richard Lohr, 5-3
149 - Chris Nissen (AF) dec. Kyle LeValley, 7-1
157 -- Nathan Gerrard (UNC) maj. dec. Bridger Lord, 10-0
165 -- Devan Lewis (UNC) dec. Zach Lord, 6-4
174 -- Shawn Hart (UNC) fall Stephen Crozier, 3:21