Despite Early Lead, No. 15 Cowboys Come Up Short Versus Oregon State

Jan. 13, 2013


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An early dual lead wasn't enough for the University of Wyoming wrestling team to overcome 13th-ranked Oregon State on Sunday, and the Cowboys suffered their third defeat of the season, 21-12.

No. 15 UW held an early 6-3 to begin the dual versus the Beavers, but OSU (4-3 overall, 1-1 Pac-12) clawed back to win the next five matches to drop the Cowboys. The Beavers stopped the momentum of Wyoming, which had won four-straight contests and now sits at 6-3 overall.

"I was disappointed we didn't come out in front of our home crowd and put up a better effort," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "We didn't wrestle with our hearts enough. They are an excellent team. I knew we'd have to wrestle extremely well to upset them but we didn't even sniff it. It's a turning point for us, a defining moment. When you have it taken to you like that, it takes a strong mind to come back."

Wyoming got off to a good start, as fourth-ranked senior Alfonso Hernandez edged No. 9 Taylor Meeks in the 197-pound bout, 7-6. Hernandez won his fourth bout of the season against a ranked opponent.

Up next, Cowboy sophomore Leland Pfeifer battled fifth-ranked Chad Hanke at heavyweight, and suffered a narrow 8-4 loss. After that, sophomore Tyler Cox gave the Pokes a 6-3 lead when he outpointed OSU's Joey Palmer in the 125-pound match, winning 6-2.

But the Beavers stormed back to win the next five bouts to take a 21-6 lead to seal the win. Wyoming earned points in the final two bouts with a 14-9 decision from senior L.J. Helbig (174) and a gritty 5-4 decision from sophomore Shane Woods at 184 pounds.

"I was proud of Leland, even in a loss," Branch said. "He was inspiring. He wrestled with a lot of heart against a really good guy. That was one of the few matches where we wore them down. There's no excuse for that. We should be wearing them down in a majority of matches, but we stood around a lot.

"I was proud of L.J.'s effort. He made a really aggressive mistake at the end, which cost him a major decision, but I'll take that every day. I'm not going to yell at him for doing that. I need more aggression. I need guys taking more chances. We didn't do enough. Even in some of the matches we won, I was disappointed in our effort."

The Cowboys will try to rebound on the road for the next contest, a Western Wrestling Conference showdown with South Dakota State. Wyoming is 1-0 in league action, and will hit the mats with the Jackrabbits at 2 p.m. Sunday in Spearfish, S.D.

Match results
197: No. 4 Alfonso Hernandez (UW) dec. No. 9 Taylor Meeks (OSU), 7-6 / Wyoming 3, Oregon State 0
285: No. 5 Chad Hanke (OSU) dec. Leland Pfeifer (UW), 8-4 / Wyoming 3, Oregon State 3
125: Tyler Cox (UW) dec. Joey Palmer (OSU), 6-2 / Wyoming 6, Oregon State 3
133: Drew Van Anrooy (OSU) dec. Zach Zehner (UW), 9-5 / Wyoming 6, Oregon State 6
141: No. 4 Mike Mangrum (OSU) tech. fall Kyle Komata (UW), 16-0 / Oregon State 11, Wyoming 6
149: No. 9 Scott Sakaguchi (OSU) dec. Brandon Richardson (UW), 4-2 / Oregon State 14, Wyoming 6
157: No. 7 R.J. Pena (OSU) maj. dec. No. 12 Andy McCulley (UW), 11-3 / Oregon State 18, Wyoming 6
165: Alex Elder (OSU) dec. Dakota Friesth (UW), 9-2 / Oregon State 21, Wyoming 6
174: L.J. Helbig (UW) dec. Austin Morehead (OSU), 14-9 / Oregon State 21, Wyoming 9
184: Shane Woods (UW) dec. Brian Engdahl (OSU), 5-4 / Oregon State 21, Wyoming 12