By CARLON SCOTT
The BYU wrestling team finished its regular season on a victorious note, defeating the Falcons of the Air Force Academy 19-13 Saturday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
The Cougars put together a sound performance, taking five of the first six matches for a comfortable 16-3 lead. Air Force took three of the last four matches, but without any pins and only one major decision win, it wasn’t enough to over come the Cougars’ lead.
The team showed the experience it gained from wrestling so many ranked opponents this year. The Cougars won their six matches by an average margin of five points.
BYU sophomore Jose Enriquez once again started the Cougars off with a win at 118 pounds. Enriquez dominated AFA junior Chris Linberg, beating him 16-6.
At 126 pounds, BYU senior John Kelly defeated AFA senior Kirk Eknes 7-1. After surrendering the single point early in the match, Kelly took total control, shutting Eknes down completely the rest of the match.
BYU freshman Collin Robertson displayed the skills he’s acquired this year in his match with AFA sophomore Patrick Brady-Lee. Coming out, Lee looked like the stronger, quicker wrestler. But after an early takedown, Robertson answered back with several smart, well-timed moves that put him up 6-2 en route to an 11-5 victory in the 142-pound class.
In the closest match of the evening, BYU junior Gary Sanderson used his advantage time to get the win over AFA senior Mike Kallai in the 150-pound class. The two wrestlers had battled to a 1-1 tie in the points tally.
BYU sophomore Brett Gappmayer got the win for the Cougars at 158 pounds, defeating AFA senior Sheroyd Brown 6-1. BYU sophomore Jason Johnson returned from a concussion he suffered three weeks ago to beat AFA freshmen Justin Bowen 7-4.
“Jason Johnson winning it put it out of reach,” said wrestling coach Mark Schultz. “A lot of people contributed to this win — Enriquez, Kelly, Robertson, Sanderson, Gappmayer, they all did a great job.”
BYU junior Kris West was unable to go this weekend. After wrestling last weekend, West may have come back a little to early.
“Kris just isn’t completely over his injury yet,” Shultz said.
The meet marked the end of the regular season. The team ended with an 8-7 record after facing four ranked opponents on the year. BYU will now turn its focus to the WAC championships.
The team will have two weeks off before the championships. Those two weeks couldn’t have come at a better time for the Cougars. Injuries have continued to force Coach Schultz to juggle his lineup week after week.
“I think when it comes time for the WAC, we should have eveybody wrestling at the right weight,” Schultz said.
The WAC championships will be held March 7 here at BYU in the Smith Fieldhouse.