CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -
Four Cowboys earned their place Thursday in the championship quarterfinals of the Southern Scuffle after the first day concluded.
Seniors Tyler Cox (125 pounds), Dakota Friesth (165) and Andy McCulley (174), along with sophomore Benjamin Stroh (184) all punched their tickets to Friday's next round thanks to unblemished records. Four other Cowboys remained alive on the consolation side: sophomore Drew Templeman (133), sophomore Cole Mendenhall (141), senior Shane Woods (197) and junior heavyweight Tanner Harms.
In the team race, Wyoming sits tied for 12th out of 31 teams with 24 points, just 1.5 out of the top 10. Penn State leads with 52 points.
"Basically all our guys were in tough situations today," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "They showed some grit. That stood out, but it also showed some of our guys lacking that toughness. Some of our guys looked ready in situations and some guys didn't go out there and show the aggression that we expect. That's the way it always goes in tournaments. (Friday) is what it's all about. We have to be even better. We won't be favored in a lot of those matches so we have to dig in."
Cox went 2-0 for the day with a solid offensive showing. He got out of his first match with a late flurry, overcoming a 7-4 deficit with less than 30 seconds left in the bout. He went on to tie the score and added the deciding takedown in the overtime period. He won his next bout in regulation, and will face Pittsburgh's 17th-ranked Dom Forys in the quarterfinals Friday morning. He's now 14th in program history with 103 career victories.
Friesth used a nonstop attack in his last bout of the day to secure the winning takedown in the second sudden-victory period, besting Nebraska's 20th-ranked Austin Wilson in a 4-2 decision. He draws No. 1 Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State in the next round.
McCulley wrestled a hard pace in his last bout, outlasting Penn State's Bo Nickal in the second tiebreaker period. The duo was tied 3-3 when the clock ran out, but McCulley earned an additional point for superior ride time to move on. Now 20th in team history with 91 career wins, he will face fifth-ranked Tyler Wilps of Pittsburgh on Friday morning.
Stroh was impressive in his 3-0 outing, pinning Duke's Jacob Kasper in 4:11 to advance to Friday. He added a major decision in the previous match, and faces top-ranked Max Thomusseit of Pittsburgh in his next bout.
Four other Pokes will compete on Day Two in consolations, including Mendenhall, who was 2-1 for the day. Templeman was 1-1, Woods was 1-1 and Harms was 1-1.
"It's elimination time for our consolation guys," Branch added. "They have a long day ahead of them to wrestle all the way back. But everybody is in the same situation. You don't go in feeling sorry for yourself. Go in there and feel like you are tougher than your opponent. Tomorrow will tell us a lot."
Friday's action is set for a 7 a.m. MT start for quarterfinals, with semifinals at 11:30 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m.
125 pounds: #10/10/10 Tyler Cox (2-0)
133: Drew Templeman (1-1)
141: Cole Mendenhall (2-1)
149: Jake Elliott (1-2)
157: Archie Colgan (1-2)
Brandon Richardson (0-2)
165: #NR/20/17 Dakota Friesth (2-0)
174: #NR/16/NR Andy McCulley (2-0)
184: #15/17/NR Benjamin Stroh (3-0)
197: Brandon Tribble (1-2)
#19/16/13 Shane Woods (1-1)
285: #16/NR/NR Tanner Harms (1-1)