CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - Senior Andy McCulley stepped up Friday for the University of Wyoming wrestling program on Day Two of the Southern Scuffle, as he was among four UW upperclassmen to place in the top eight of their respective weight classes.
Along with McCulley, seniors Tyler Cox (125 pounds), Dakota Friesth (165) and Shane Woods (197) finished as medalists thanks to their performances over the two-day event. In the team race, Wyoming placed ninth of 31 teams with 57.5 points in its debut in the event.
"When you look at this field, it is probably the closest tournament to the NCAA Championships that you can get in the regular season, with the overall skill and the atmosphere," UW head coach Mark Branch said. "It truly was a very tough tournament. All those guys who came through and medaled had really good moments. There's no doubt our participation in this will make us a better team.
"Even placing ninth, I think we left a lot of points on the table and it exposed some areas that we have to rapidly improve in. It's a good measuring point for us. We definitely have to get better. But looking at the teams we competed against and which ones placed ahead and behind us, it was an admirable effort."
McCulley was UW's top finisher, placing fifth thanks to three wins Friday. To start the day, he lost a close 5-2 championship quarterfinal bout Friday to No. 5 Tyler Wilps (Pittsburgh) to drop to the consolations. He added two more wins but lost in the wrestleback semifinals, sending him to the fifth-place match versus Oklahoma State's 18th-ranked Kyle Crutchmer. McCulley received a win via medical forfeit, and now with 94 career wins, is 18th in program history.
"He was Wyoming's best performer, both in the way he competed and placed," Branch added. "Our guys need to learn from him. He came out and was very tough, physically and mentally. He had some really big wins and it was a tough path to place fifth. I think he threw his name in there today with all the big boys in the nation. He is definitely a guy that nobody is going to want to wrestle down the road."
After a 2-0 showing Thursday, Cox suffered losses in three of his four bouts Friday to finish sixth. After a 17-7 major decision over Pitt's Dom Forys to get to the semifinal, he was defeated by top-ranked Nashon Garrett of Cornell, falling 11-3. He drew Chattanooga's Sean Boyle, ranked 20th, in the consolation semifinals, falling 8-4. That sent him to the fifth-place match against Nebraska's 17th-ranked Tim Lambert. He dropped a close 3-2 decision to cap off his tournament.
After a loss Thursday, Woods came back through the consolations Friday to place seventh. He totaled four wins for the day and qualified for the seventh-place match against 16th-ranked Zach Nye of Virginia. He avenged a previous loss to Nye with a 3-1 decision in sudden victory.
With two wins Thursday, Friesth advanced to face top-ranked Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State in Friday's quarterfinals. But a loss dropped him to the consolation bracket. He advanced in the wrestlebacks with a major decision, but after a defeat, qualified for the seventh-place bout versus North Carolina's Ethan Ramos. He fell 7-3 to finish eighth.
A group of three sophomores went a combined 2-4 en route to elimination Friday, including 133-pound Drew Templeman (0-1), 141-pounder Cole Mendenhall (2-1) and 184-pound Benjamin Stroh, who was 0-2. Mendenhall and Stroh each were in the round of 12, but bowed out with close losses. Junior heavyweight Tanner Harms went 1-1 Friday, falling in a close 3-2 decision to Stanford's Nathan Butler to cap his day.
The Cowboys get back to dual action next week with a road trip to face Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Friday.
125 pounds: #10/10/10 Tyler Cox (3-3) Sixth place
133: Drew Templeman (1-2)
141: Cole Mendenhall (4-2)
149: Jake Elliott (1-2)
157: Archie Colgan (1-2)
Brandon Richardson (0-2)
165: #NR/20/17 Dakota Friesth (3-3) Eighth place
174: #NR/16/NR Andy McCulley (5-2) Fifth place
184: #15/17/NR Benjamin Stroh (3-2)
197: Brandon Tribble (1-2)
#19/16/13 Shane Woods (5-2) Seventh place
285: #16/NR/NR Tanner Harms (2-2)