Jack Kuck shoots for a strong finish for the University of Northern Colorado wrestling team
February 8, 2017
Jack Kuck wants a little bit of what Rico Montoya has.
Momentum. Additional confidence. A mini win streak.
Do the math and Kuck couldn't be happier than a college heavyweight wrestler in the twilight of his career looking to pump his fists a few times.
Wednesday night, Kuck, a senior, used a third-period escape to beat Wyoming's Danny Gordon 3-2 for his first victory at Bank of Colorado Arena in as long as anybody can remember.
Unfortunately for the University of Northern Colorado wrestling team, Kuck's victory was only one of three for the Bears in a 28-10 Big 12 Conference loss to the University of Wyoming.
Montoya scored a 10-2 major decision over Ronnie Stevens at 133 pounds and Dylan Gabel shut out Luca Lovvorn 5-0 for UNC's other victories.
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"I couldn't be happier for Jack Kuck," UNC coach Troy Nickerson said. "You can't find a harder worker than Jack. He comes in every day and busts his butt."
Bustin' his butt hasn't always worked for Kuck, a former standout at Windsor who never made it to the top of the podium but wrestled for two Windsor state championship teams.
"He's limited in some areas, and he knows that but he gets by with hard work," Nickerson said. "It's hard work and it worked tonight."
Kuck, spent two years working for Windsor's coach Monty Trusty delivering hot tubs while attending UNC. Coming out for the UNC team after not stepping on a mat for so long was sort of an afterthought.
"That's really hard to do," Nickerson explained.
When Nickerson was named the UNC coach, Kuck did his homework and figured he'd get back into the daily grind of sweating, running, grunting and testing his strength.
Victories have been few and far between for the 23-year-old Kuck, who will graduate in May with a degree in international affairs with an emphasis in politics and economics.
"Before, I didn't feel like I needed to go to college to be successful," said Kuck, who is 8-16 on the season. said. "Some important people (in my life) changed my mind on that."
UNC assistant coaches Tucker and Stryker Lane have helped Kuck hone his wrestling skills and keep his priorities in order.
"I couldn't ask for better training partners," Kuck said. "We have a really intense (training) room."
Montoya's perseverance was evident in the second period when he turned a takedown into back-to-back near falls with a tilt to take a 7-1 lead.
Montoya eventually piled up 1 minute, 34 seconds of riding time for the easy victory, his third straight.
"What changed was the takedown before the (tilts)," said Montoya, a sophomore who is 14-10. "I'm focusing on winning my next one, now. You won't chop down a forest unless you chip down one tree at a time. If I accomplish all of the tiny goals, the rest will fall down in the process."
Nickerson said Montoya mainly needs to keep his motor in high gear as the Bears enter the final two dual matches before the Big 12 Conference Championships in Tulsa, Okla.
"I'm looking at 10 guys having the confidence to quality," Nickerson said.
One of the 10 will obviously be redshirt junior 165-pounder Keilan Torres (21-12, ranked No. 16), who lost 3-1 in overtime to Wyoming's Branson Ashworth (31-4).
After several high-action scrambles in regulation and a 1-1 tie, Ashworth got in on Torres' leg and scored the winning takedown in sudden victory.
"I needed to take advantage of the scrambles," Ashworth said. "I don't think I wrestled very well, and I never really got a chance to wrestle on top."
Torres scored an escape just five seconds into the second period, keeping Ashworth from the top position where he's known to pile up points.
"We ran deep in the first period and he fought us hard," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said of the Ashworth/Torres matchup. "Ashworth didn't commit to his shots. I don't like the match going down to the wire. He clammed up after the first two scrambles and wanted a bigger lead because I didn't want this match coming down to the wire and it could have."
Gabel used a takedown, a reversal and riding time in his victory.
"At this time, I'm looking for improvement and I saw that tonight," Nickerson said. "At 197 (A 2-1 loss by UNC's Jamarcus Grant to Wyoming's Luke Paine), we lost to the kid by major decision earlier this season. We're improving."
That includes Kuck, who knows that his time is running out.
"I kind of regret taking the time off (that I did), but I'm not going to worry about it," Kuck said. "It's in the past."
University of Wyoming 28, University of Northern Colorado 10
125 pounds — Drew Templeman, W, dec. Trey Andrews 6-1. 133 — Rico Montoya, UNC, maj. dec. Ronnie Stevens 10-2. 141 — Bryce Meredith, W, pinned Sean Cannon 2:39. 149 — Cole Mendnhall, W, pinned Ben Polkowske 3:58. 157 — Archie Colgan, W, maj. dec. Jimmy Fate 11-3. 165 — Branson Ashworth, W, Keilan Torres 3-1 (SV). 174 — Kyle Pope, W, dec. Dalton Robertson 13-7. 184 — Dylan Gabel, UNC, dec. Luca Lovvorn 5-0. 197 — Luke Paine, W, dec. Jamarcus Grant 2-1. HWT — Jack Kuck, UNC, dec. Danny Gordon 3-2.