The knock on Boise State sophomore wrestler Holden Packard was his inability to win the close match.
Hes starting to change that.
Packard, a Mountain View High graduate, beat Stanfords Bret Baumbach 4-2 in overtime Sunday at Taco Bell Arena for his fourth straight victory at 165 pounds.
Packard likely earned the No. 1 seed at the Pac-12 tournament March 2 by avenging his first-round loss in last years tournament.
The Broncos beat the Cardinal 29-7.
It was a match that I wanted to get back, Packard said. It was good to win a close one. I know coach (Greg) Randall always talks about needing to win the close ones. I felt completely comfortable going into overtime.
Packard led 1-0 on a second-period escape as the match neared its end. He also was due another point for his advantage in riding time. But he wasnt able to close out Baumbach, who earned a two-point reversal in the final 5 seconds to force overtime.
I kind of got in a bad position and things didnt go my way, Packard said.
He made up for his mistake with a takedown 32 seconds into the sudden-death overtime his first takedown of the match.
Packard (10-12) also has won 4-0 against CSU Bakersfield, 8-4 against Arizona State and 3-2 against Kent State during his recent streak. He lost his lineup spot briefly this season but is 6-0 against Pac-12 opponents.
He works really hard during the match and he has to work harder to score, Randall said. If he can score two or three takedowns in a match, hes going to be really tough to beat.
Packard is providing some depth in a lineup that features four ranked wrestlers and is missing injured 133-pounder Brian Owen (No. 15), whom Randall expects to return for the Pac-12 tournament.
All four stars cruised Sunday No. 2 Jason Chamberlain won by pin at 149, No. 18 George Ivanov won 11-4 at 157, No. 10 Jake Swartz won 10-1 at 184 and No. 13 J.T. Felix won 7-4 at heavyweight.
Ivanov (19-5) has won eight straight matches and has three victories this season against wrestlers ranked in the top 10 at the time of the match.
This probably is the best shape Ive been in in my life, he said. Ive got my rhythm going with my technique. Im ready to finish strong. I dont even get tired anymore in matches. Hopefully Ill peak at the right time.
The Broncos are hoping for the same as a team. After a slow start, theyve won eight of their past nine duals with two remaining Feb. 10 vs. Cal Poly and Feb. 13 vs. Utah Valley, both at home.
Packard and 197-pounder Cody Dixon have surged in the past month, but the team still has struggled at 125 and 141. Top 141-pounder Josh Strait is out for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.
Weve still got a few weight classes where we need to figure out if we can win some matches at the Pac-12, Randall said.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat