The Wyoming wrestling team and head coach Mark Branch announced the 2016-17 schedule on Friday. The schedule features seven home contests, including an outreach dual in Afton, Wyo., and culminates with the Big XII Championships in Tulsa, Okla., and NCAA Tournament in St. Louis, Mo.
“An advantage we have this year is the fact that we are home more than last year,” UW head coach Mark Branch said. “It doesn’t necessarily make the schedule any easier but it does maybe make it a little more convenient for the student-athletes. Our competition will be tough whether it’s on the road or at home.”
The Cowboys will compete against five of the top-25 team finishers from last year’s NCAA Championships. Three of those duals will be at home in the UniWyo Sports Complex.
“Our guys are used to tough competition,” Branch added. “It will help us in the end, and I don’t feel competing against the best is a negative. We’ve had tough opponents every year since I’ve been here, and our schedule gives us that. We hope that our guys start feeling that they can compete and do well against top teams. Wrestling with confidence against the highest level is what we are looking for year in and year out.”
UW will begin the 2016 campaign with two open tournaments. The Pokes will host the Cowboy Open on Nov. 5, before making the trip down to Greeley, Colo., for the UNC Open on Nov. 13. The 2016-17 home opener is set for Sunday, Nov. 20 against Nebraska. The Huskers finished eighth in the team standings at the NCAA Championships a year ago. The following weekend, UW will welcome Iowa State to Laramie. The Cyclones placed 12th at last year’s NCAA Championships.
In December, the Pokes will travel to Las Vegas for the Cliff Keen Invite on Dec. 2-3, and then the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18 where defending NCAA Champions Penn State will also be competing along with an always tough field.
The 2017 New Year will begin with the American Duals that will take place in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. The Pokes will then host two-straight duals against South Dakota State (Jan. 13) and Oregon State (Jan. 15). Wyoming hits the road for competitions against Cal Poly on Jan. 20, and at Utah Valley on Jan. 28, before hosting its outreach dual in Afton, Wyo., on Jan. 30.
“We’ve tried to get something scheduled in the western part of the state for a few years now,” Branch mentioned. “It makes sense with Boise State, as it’s a closer event for them. It’s a part of the state we haven’t been to and Afton is a community that has a strong tradition in wrestling. We will see a new fan base and those fans have a hard time getting to Laramie. Anytime we can outreach and see new fans is a great opportunity for us.”
February will begin with a dual against Air Force, just before UW travels to Northern Colorado on Feb. 8. The Cowboys will meet both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on Feb. 10. The Sooners finished 13th in last year’s team standings, while Oklahoma State placed second. To conclude the regular season, UW will host North Dakota State on Feb. 12.
The 2017 Big XII Championships will take place in Tulsa, Okla., on March 4-5, and the NCAA Championships will be held in St. Louis, Mo., beginning March 16.
“St. Louis has always been a great host city for the NCAA’s but our fans have another excellent opportunity to see a top notch event and venue at the Big XII tournament being held at the BOK Center in Tulsa.”
2016-17 Wrestling Schedule
Nov. 5 Cowboy Open Laramie, Wyo.
Nov. 13 UNC Open Greeley, Colo.
Nov. 20 Nebraska Laramie, Wyo.
Nov. 27 Iowa State * Laramie, Wyo.
Dec. 2-3 Cliff Keen Invite Las Vegas, Nev.
Dec. 18 Reno TOC Reno, Nev.
Jan. 6 American Duals Washington, DC
Jan. 13 South Dakota State * Laramie, Wyo.
Jan. 15 Oregon State Laramie, Wyo.
Jan. 20 Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Jan. 28 Utah Valley * Orem, Utah
Jan. 30 Boise State Afton, Wyo.
Feb. 4 Air Force * Laramie, Wyo.
Feb. 8 Northern Colorado * Greeley, Colo.
Feb. 10 Oklahoma * Norman, Okla.
Feb. 10 Oklahoma State * Stillwater, Okla.
Feb. 12 North Dakota State * Laramie, Wyo.
March 4-5 Big XII Championships Tulsa, Okla.
March 16-18 NCAA Tournament St. Louis, Mo.
* Big XII Dual