Jan. 29, 2012
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Three bonus-point victories and seven total wins powered the University of Wyoming wrestling team to its fifth-straight dual win Sunday as the Cowboys took down conference rival Northern Iowa, 27-12.
"I knew that we could be in a really tough battle, so to win seven matches and dominate the team score was good," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "(Northern Iowa is) a good team. I don't think they get enough credit because they've wrestled a tough schedule. They've scrapped and wrestled some of the better teams in the nation, so I wasn't going to be deceived. I knew they were going to be a lot tougher team than they looked on paper."
The team score was tied at 9 after five matches, but four straight wins after that gave Wyoming (5-2 overall, 2-0 Western Wrestling Conference) an insurmountable lead heading into the last match.
UW sophomore Pat Martinez paved the way for the win for the Pokes, and senior Joe LeBlanc sealed it. Martinez earned a pin of UNI's Onni Prestidge at the 4:44 mark at 174 pounds, and the first-ranked LeBlanc defeated sixth-ranked Ryan Loder in a 10-5 decision at 184 pounds. The nine team points gave Wyoming a 23-9 lead with just two matches to go, a margin UNI (5-4 overall, 3-1 WWC) couldn't close.
"Pat came out with a whole different attitude. He looked like a beast," Branch said. "He had that fire in his belly, and that was good to see. He got the fall for us, which was big, momentum-wise.
"And Joe wrestled great... He did well on top, (wrestled with) a lot of effort and our younger kids can learn from that, with second, third and fourth efforts to ride him and bring him back down and it paid off. He controlled the pace of the match. (Loder) is a tough kid; he's given Joe some fits, but that was a big win to separate the (team) score a little bit."
Senior Michael Martinez put the Pokes on the scoreboard first with a gritty 6-2 decision over UNI's Cruse Aarhus at 125 pounds to give Wyoming a 3-0 lead.
The Panthers, however, answered quickly to take a 5-3 lead in the team score. No. 12 Joe Colon beat Wyoming redshirt freshman Zach Zehner, ranked 17th, with a 22-4 technical fall at 133 pounds.
Cowboy senior Chase Smith earned his first dual win of the year, beating UNI's Levi Wolfensperger in a tough 7-6 decision at 141 pounds. Smith's escape with just 34 seconds remaining gave him the victory and Wyoming took a 6-5 lead on the scoreboard.
Wyoming redshirt junior McCade Ford stepped up to wrestle at 149 points, and earned a narrow 6-5 decision over Seth Noble for his first dual win of the season. But UNI tied up the team score at 9 when David Bonin defeated UW's Dakota Friesth at 157 pounds with a 13-3 major decision.
Third-ranked Shane Onufer, a UW senior, gave Wyoming some breathing room with a dominant 15-0 technical fall over UNI's Riley Banach at 165 pounds to take the 14-9 lead heading into the 174-pound tilt.
After LeBlanc's win, eighth-ranked Cowboy junior Alfonso Hernandez outworked Taylor Kettman in a 12-3 major decision to give Wyoming 27 team points.
The nightcap featured two heavyweights, Wyoming's L.J. Helbig and Northern Iowa's Blayne Beale. Helbig battled, but Beale earned the 11-8 decision.
The Pokes will hit the road for their next test, a WWC dual versus Air Force on Thursday in Colorado Springs, Colo. Matches begin at 7 p.m.
125 pounds: Michael Martinez (UW) dec. Cruse Aarhus (UNI), 6-2 / Wyoming 3, Northern Iowa 0
133: Joe Colon (UNI) tech. fall Zach Zehner (UW), 22-4 / Northern Iowa 5, Wyoming 3
141: Chase Smith (UW) dec. Levi Wolfensperger (UNI), 7-6 / Wyoming 6, Northern Iowa 5
149: McCade Ford (UW) dec. Seth Noble (UNI), 6-5 / Wyoming 9, Northern Iowa 5
157: David Bonin (UNI) maj. dec. Dakota Friesth (UW), 13-3 / Wyoming 9, Northern Iowa 9
165: Shane Onufer (UW) tech. fall Riley Banach (UNI), 15-0 / Wyoming 14, Northern Iowa 9
174: Pat Martinez (UW) fall (4:44) Onni Prestidge (UNI) / Wyoming 20, Northern Iowa 9
184: Joe LeBlanc (UW) dec. Ryan Loder (UNI), 10-5 / Wyoming 23, Northern Iowa 9
197: Alfonso Hernandez (UW) maj. dec. Taylor Kettman (UNI), 12-3 / Wyoming 27, Northern Iowa 9
285: Blayne Beale (UNI) dec. L.J. Helbig (UW), 11-8 / Wyoming 27, Northern Iowa 12