Jan. 5, 2010
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming wrestling team took their home fans on an emotional roller coaster on Tuesday night in the UniWyo Sports Complex against the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Short-handed and with a shuffled lineup, UW fell behind 15-4 after five weight classes, only to rally and win the remaining five bouts, earning a 26-15 team victory.
Wyoming improves to 4-1 in dual matches this season, while North Carolina State drops to 2-5. The Cowboys are now 3-0 all-time versus the Wolfpack.
Getting wins for the `Pokes in their first home dual since Nov. 13 were senior Cory VomBaur at 133 pounds, sophomores Shane Onufer (165), Brock Smith (174), Joe LeBlanc (184) and Alfonso Hernandez (197), as well as the unlikely hero, redshirt freshman Lee Helbig at heavyweight.
"The overall theme tonight was that we needed our guys to step up and fill some vacancies," UW head coach Mark Branch said. "Some guys stepped up and some didn't. The later needs to, and will be addressed, but hats off to our upper weights. They really pulled through and made the end of that dual about as exciting as it could be. They put a good product out there and hopefully that is what our fans want to see."
The Cowboy team was not in a good position to begin the match since they were missing two starters from this past fall. Junior heavyweight Matthew McLaughlin has been declared academically ineligible for the remainder of the season and No. 10-ranked lightweight Michael Martinez was relegated to the bench pending a decision on his own academic issues.
As a result, the `Pokes had to forfeit the 125-pound weight class and immediately were down 6-0.
No. 22-ranked VomBaur got the Cowboys their only win in the lower weights at 133 pounds with an 8-0 major decision over Scott Norris. VomBaur fended off Norris early and then took control of the match with a takedown at 2:08, never looking back on his way to a bonus-point win.
UW was now down 6-4, but things would only get worse over the next three matches. Sophomore Chase Smith and junior Cole Dallaserra each lost one-point decisions at 141 and 149 pounds respectively, while sophomore Mikah Kadera also dropped a decision at 157 pounds, by a score of 8-4. Wyoming was now behind by 11 points, 15-4.
The Wolfpack would not score another team point, as the Cowboys' upper weights then took the reins and guided their squad to a victory by winning five consecutive bouts.
In his first action in a month due to a knee injury, No. 9-ranked Onufer set the tone for a comeback by sticking Ray Ward to the mat at 4:35 in the second period of their 165-pound match. The win by fall was his fifth this season and 19th of his two-year career. Onufer dominated the match from the start and led 9-2 at the time of his pin, thanks to three takedowns, a two-point nearfall and an escape. He now has a season record of 15-4.
Brock Smith then followed suit at 174 pounds by shutting out Quinton Godley, 5-0. Smith is 15-7 this season, 2-0 in duals for the Cowboys.
All-American and No. 7-ranked LeBlanc took all of two minutes and 28 seconds to pin Jonathan Becker at 184 pounds, continuing his amazing run of bonus-point victories this year. He now has a season record of 23-3, with 18 of those wins by either fall, technical fall or major decision. The fall against the Wolfpack was LeBlanc's seventh this season and 14th of his career. His win gave UW the lead for good at 19-15.
Hernandez then put the match out of reach for his team with an impressive 13-4 major decision at 197 pounds over Andrew Tumlin. He led 4-1 heading into the third period before gassing his opponent with four takedowns in the final two minutes.
Helbig's match at heavyweight then ended the evening on an emotional high note. Wrestling up in weight in his first career dual for the Brown and Gold, the UW 197-pounder took the fight to his much larger opponent, Eloheim Palma, never giving the N.C. State big man a chance to rest. Helbig won 6-0 in dominating fashion, with takedowns in the first and third periods, an escape point and a riding time point. In fact, Helbig had 3:20 in riding time as he had control from beginning to end. He is now 14-8 this season.
"I can't say enough about L.J. (Helbig)," Branch stated. "He won tonight because from the moment he stepped onto that mat he thought he could beat their guy. It's exciting to see a guy who is put into that kind of situation really step up and perform. With adversity the best will come out of you and our entire team can learn from that kind of effort."
Wyoming will now take a quick road trip to Corvallis, Ore., to face the No. 24-ranked Oregon State Beavers on Thurs., Jan. 7 at 8 p.m.
Wyoming (WYO) 26, North Carolina State (NCST) 15