After a long offseason, the University of Wyoming wrestling team started its 2016-17 season on Monday. The Cowboys held its first of 20 practices in preparation for the upcoming season.
“Right now the practices may seem to go a little long,” UW head coach Mark Branch said. “There is a lot of work and technique to be done, but not a lot of time. It takes months to get prepared for everything, and we know we want to be as competitive as we can be for the Cowboy Open, which is our focus right now. Today is the first day we really get after it and will be able to get some work done for the basics of our technique.”
The Pokes open the year with the 39th Annual Cowboy Open on Nov. 5. Also, junior Bryce Meredith will compete at the 51st Annual National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Star Classic at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center that same day. The event, presented by The Brewer-Garrett Company and hosted by the Wrestlers in Business Network, has served as the major kick-off event for the wrestling season since becoming an early-season event. In 2012, the event moved to the first weekend of the major college wrestling calendar and has been a fixture ever since.
Wyoming returns two NCAA qualifiers in Meredith and senior Drew Templeman to this year’s team. In total, the Pokes return ten letterwinners and welcome seven newcomers for 2016-17.
A tough schedule awaits the Cowboys as they will compete against five top-25 team finishers from last year’s NCAA Championships. Three of those duals will be home at the UniWyo Sports Complex. The home opener is set for Sunday, Nov. 20, against Nebraska. Then the following weekend, UW will welcome Iowa State to Laramie. During the month of February, the Pokes will meet both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State on Feb. 10. The 2017 Big 12 Championships will take place in Tulsa, Okla., on March 4-5, and the NCAA Championships will be held in St. Louis, Mo., beginning on March 16.
ASICS/FloWrestling Division I Rankings
Meredith checks in at 3rd in the 2016-17 ASICS/FloWrestling Division I Rankings. He had a 29-5 record a season ago becoming the 32nd All-American selection in Cowboy history. Meredith became the first NCAA finalist for UW since Reese Andy in 1996. Templeman is at No. 13 at 125 pounds in the ASICS/FloWrestling rankings. He had a 19-10 record as a junior last year, and finished fourth at the Big 12 Championship to earn his first berth for the NCAA Championships.
WIN Magazine 2016-17 Preseason Tournament Power Index
Wyoming is ranked No. 21 in the WIN Magazine 2016-17 Preseason Tournament Power Index. UW earned a TPI ranking of 17. The TPI is based on the schools' wrestlers who are rated in WIN's individual rankings, predicting possible All-American candidates in the 2017 NCAA Championships. Returning ranked Cowboys include both Meredith and Templeman. Meredith holds the second-ranked spot for 141 pounds, as he is behind Dean Heil of Oklahoma State. Templeman is No. 17 in the 125 pound rankings for WIN Magazine.
Head coach Mark Branch enters his ninth season at the helm of Cowboy wrestling. He holds an 80-38 overall record and 38-8 mark in conference action.