Pokes Earn First-Ever Win Over Mustangs

Jan. 20, 2012


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For the second time this month, the Wyoming wrestling program earned its first-ever dual victory over an opponent as the Cowboys cruised past Cal Poly on Friday night in Laramie, 26-9.

The Pokes (3-2 overall, 0-0 Western Wrestling Conference) beat Oklahoma for the first time Jan. 3 in Laramie, and now can lay claim to a win over the Mustangs, a team which held a 4-0 all-time mark over UW. Wyoming used a drastically different lineup than in its previous four duals, and it paid dividends for the wrestlers and the 847 fans who packed the UniWyo Sports Complex.

Three Pokes made their dual debuts Friday night, including redshirt freshmen Robert Stroh, Andy McCulley and Leland Pfeifer.

Senior Michael Martinez, ranked 19th, took down Cal Poly's Michael Clemmensen at 125 pounds with a 17-6 major decision to start the dual and give Wyoming a 4-0 lead. No. 18 Zach Zehner, UW's redshirt freshman, followed up with a 15-5 major decision over Chris Calcagno to give the Pokes an 8-0 advantage after two matches.

The Mustangs (4-4, 2-2 Pac-12) got on the board when fourth-ranked Boris Novachkov defeated Wyoming's Chase Smith at 141 pounds in a 6-2 decision. That bout made the score 8-3, but Cal Poly would draw no closer.

Stroh gutted out a 9-2 decision over Cal Poly's Kyle Chene at 149 pounds, followed by McCulley, who took home a 6-0 decision over Gianpier Yanez at 157 pounds.

"I saw some attitude out of McCulley," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "He's got a mean streak in him and I like it. (Stroh and McCulley) performed well enough that we'll see them again."

Senior Shane Onufer lived up to his billing as the No. 3 wrestler in the nation at 165 pounds, as he defeated Mustang Paul Woodman in a 20-4 technical fall. That win gave Wyoming a 19-3 lead with just four bouts remaining. But Cal Poly's fourth-ranked Ryan DesRoches beat Wyoming's Pat Martinez in a gritty 6-1 decision at 174 pounds to give the Mustangs six total points after seven matches.

Senior Dallas Hintz got his first dual action of the season for Wyoming, and he didn't disappoint. Hintz defeated Sean Dougherty of Cal Poly in a 6-2 decision. That victory gave Wyoming 22 points with just two matches remaining.

"We wanted to get Dallas into the lineup," Branch said. "He works hard and is a good leader for us. We wanted to give him an opportunity to give him a match in front of his home crowd."

The highlight of the night for UW fans was the performance of three-time All-America honoree Joe LeBlanc at 197 pounds. LeBlanc, the top-ranked wrestler in the nation at 184 pounds, moved up a weight class to take on 18th-ranked Ryan Smith of Cal Poly. LeBlanc built an 11-0 advantage and kept up the pressure throughout the match, ending up with the 12-1 major decision for four team points.

Pfeifer battled in the heavyweight match, but Cal Poly's Kelan Bragg proved to be too much, as Bragg took home the 11-7 decision in the nightcap.

"It all kind of worked, because we wanted to give Joe a tougher match and we wanted to get Leland (Pfeifer) in the lineup," Branch said of his lineup shuffle. "We were working some different scenarios, depending on how the dual went and we didn't make any final decision until right there at the end. Everything worked so we could wrestle Dallas, bump Joe up and wrestle Leland at heavyweight.

"Things worked out to where we could reward some guys. It was nice to see some new faces out there. It was a little risky, because Cal Poly has a good team. We didn't know a lot about some of their new kids. You never take anything for granted. It was a little bit of a risk because we committed to this, but we were fortunate to do things the way we wanted to."

The Cowboys will open WWC action at 7 p.m. Saturday versus the Utah Valley Wolverines.

125 pounds: Michael Martinez (Wyoming) major dec. Michael Clemmensen (Cal Poly), 17-6 / Wyoming 4, Cal Poly 0
133: Zach Zehner (Wyoming) major dec. Chris Calcagno (Cal Poly), 15-5 / Wyoming 8, Cal Poly 0
141: Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly) dec. Chase Smith (Wyoming), 6-2 / Wyoming 8, Cal Poly 3
149: Robert Stroh (Wyoming) dec. Kyle Chene (Cal Poly), 9-2 / Wyoming 11, Cal Poly 3
157: Andy McCulley (Wyoming) dec. Gianpier Yanez (Cal Poly), 6-0 / Wyoming 14, Cal Poly 3
165: Shane Onufer (Wyoming) tech. fall Paul Woodman (Cal Poly), 20-4 / Wyoming 19, Cal Poly 3
174: Ryan DesRoches (Cal Poly) dec. Pat Martinez (Wyoming), 6-1 / Wyoming 19, Cal Poly 6
184: Dallas Hintz (Wyoming) dec. Sean Dougherty (Cal Poly), 6-2 / Wyoming 22, Cal Poly 6
197: Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming) major dec. Ryan Smith (Cal Poly), 12-1 / Wyoming 26, Cal Poly 6
285: Kelan Bragg (Cal Poly) dec. Leland Pfeifer (Wyoming), 11-7 / Wyoming 26, Cal Poly 9