By STEPHANIE HALE DULLUM
The BYU men’s wresting team came back to Provo this week with three WAC champions and four men going to the NCAA Championships.
The BYU wrestling team hasn’t had so many wrestlers qualify for the NCAA since 1989.
John Kelly is the WAC champion at 126 lbs. Kelly defeated Corey Hamerick 6-4 in overtime in the final round.
Unfortunately, Kelly woke up the morning of the tournament feeling sick to his stomach. Some how, Kelly was able to push his sickness aside and wrestle.
According to assistant coach Larry Nugent, Kelly was not wrestling his best Saturday. In the final match, Kelly had to go into overtime with Hamerick of Wyoming, who Kelly had defeated by more than 15 points just a week earlier.
At 158 lbs., Rangi Smart dominated the tournament, just as expected. Smart was ranked first going in to the tournament and is ranked first coming out.
Before the tournament, Smart said his goal for the WAC was to dominate everyone. His goal was met.
According to Nugent, from the moment Smart stepped on the mat, there was no doubt that he would win.
Jeff Godbe, Smart’s opponent in the final match, was easily defeated 8-2. However, Godbe wrestled so well against Smart that he has been selected by the coaches as a wild card to go the NCAA Championships.
“It says a lot about the respect that the coaches have for Rangi to have his opponent be selected as a wild card,” Nugent said.
BYU has a surprising champion at 167 lbs. Jared Coleman, who broke his leg only five weeks ago, overcame his injury to win the WAC title.
Before the tournament, Head Coach Mark Schultz was anxious to see how Coleman would wrestle, because he was unsure how he would do. But Coleman surprised everyone, not just by winning but also by his unique style.
Brad Alderman of Wyoming, Coleman’s opponent in the final match, is a prototype wrestler, not to mention a two time WAC champion.
“Jared is the antithesis of a prototype wrestler,” Nugent said.
Nugent said Coleman’s style is so perfectly crafted to his body and his strengths that he could overcome Alderman.
For weeks it looked like Coleman’s wrestling career would end with the broken leg, but now Coleman is leaving his college career with a WAC title and a berth in the NCAA Championships.
At 118 lbs., Jose Enriquez overcame his ranking of No. 3 to beat the No. 2 seated wrestler in the semi-final round.
Due to his outstanding performance, Enriquez was voted in to the NCAA Championship as a wild card.
According to Nugent, Enriquez will have an advantage in the NCAA because he is very big for a 118 pounder.
BYU placed several wrestlers third in their weight classes, such as Gary Sanderson at 142 lbs., Greg Gadbois at 190 lbs., Greg Schroeder at 150 lbs. and Jason Johnson at 177 lbs.
The team placed third overall in the WAC behind Fresno State and Wyoming. BYU’s ending score was 73.5.
According to Nugent, the team scored significantly more points than it did last year.
“We were hoping that we’d get closer to second though,” Nugent said.
The BYU team is a very young team, dominated by freshmen. According to Nugent there is a lot of time for most of the wrestlers to shine and make it to the NCAA Championships.
Smart, Kelly, Coleman and Enriquez will be preparing for the next two weeks for the NCAA Championships March 22.