Wrestling takes down Utah Valley for first time since 2008
GREELEY -- Northern Colorado Wrestling got seven wins in 10 matches Wednesday night in an impressive 22-12 Western Wrestling Conference dual victory against Utah Valley at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion.
The victory was the Bears' fifth in its past six duals and its first victory against Utah Valley since February 2008, when Northern Colorado earned a 28-10 home win. In between, the Wolverines compiled a 3-0 mark against the Bears with an average winning team score of 24-13.
Northern Colorado also (6-6) improved Wednesday night to 3-2 in WWC duals this season and set the stage for its final conference dual at 2 p.m. Sunday, when the Air Force Academy Falcons will come to Greeley for the Bears' Senior Day.
"These guys are definitely doing the right things and wrestling the right way," Northern Colorado coach Ben Cherrington said. "We were taking advantage of opportunities, and we were working hard the whole match, and it paid off in the end. They took risks and it paid off. I was proud of them."
Burak, ranked No. 10 in the country in his weight class by Intermat, had little trouble against the Wolverines' Ethan Smith in an 11-1 win and improved to 18-2 this season and 11-1 in duals.
Cruz started the night with a 4-0 win against Avery Garner, giving him a 15-7 mark this season, and Chirino evened his dual record this season (6-6) with a gritty 9-5 win against Dustin Dennison.
Burak recorded three take downs against Smith, notched a couple escapes and had a three-point near-fall to end the second period. He also accumulated nearly three minutes of riding time (2:57).
"[Burak] had a little set back up in Wyoming (one of his two losses on the year), and we learned a lot of things in the match," Cherrington said. "In order to accomplish his goals and get on the podium at the national tournament he's going to have to make things happen against the top guys. He's going to have to take the action to the guys; he can't wait for the action to come to him.
"That's what he was working on tonight. He took some shots; got the guy's legs; had chances to finish. [Those are] things I've told him that need to happen. He's out there, he's taking risks, and that's what's going to help him in March."
The dual ended with the 133-pound match between Northern Colorado's Sam Bauer and Utah Valley's Blake Mangum. The score entering the dual was 19-12, so the Bears had already clinched the dual, but there was drama still to be had before the night was through.
Bauer's escape four seconds into the second period was the only scoring in the match through the first two periods, and Mangum's escape 1:11 into the third period tied the match at 1-1.
The score stayed the same through regulation, and the match went to overtime, where Bauer earned the sudden-death victory with a swift leg attack that he and Cherrington had been working on in the wrestling room.
"That was great," Cherrington said. "It's huge for Sam to win a match like that and to win a match with a leg attack. He's been working at getting better at getting the guys' legs and giving himself more opportunities to score points. That was a big win for him."