Jan. 30, 2010
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming wrestling team took firm hold of the reins in the Western Wrestling Conference standings on Saturday in Laramie by soundly defeating fellow league front-runners Northern Iowa and Utah Valley.
The Cowboys won eight of nine bouts competed and received a victory by forfeit in their 37-3 win over the UVU Wolverines. Then UW turned right around and took down the UNI Panthers by a 26-12 margin, winning six of 10 match-ups.
By beating their two WWC opponents, Wyoming's overall record improves to 8-3 overall and 3-0 in the league. Utah Valley's record is now 6-2 and 2-1, while Northern Iowa falls to 6-10, 2-2 in conference duals. Earlier in the afternoon, UVU had defeated UNI by a score of 19-16 in the UniWyo Sports Complex.
Wyoming's win over Northern Iowa broke a nine-match losing streak to the Panthers that dated all the way back to Feb. 4, 1964, a 29-3 win by the `Pokes in Laramie.
"It was good to come out on the winning end tonight," UW head coach Mark Branch said. "We needed to shake off last night (OSU loss) and we did. This is an indication that our team is getting better and these were two big WWC victories.
"I saw some inspiring performances tonight from our team. Kasey's (Garnhart) come from behind win, Jimmy's (Belleville) upset over Reiner (of UNI) and L.J.'s (Helbig) last-second victory were examples of the type of efforts we need to have every time we step on the mat.
Among the highlights for the `Pokes were a major decision and technical fall by sophomore All-American Joe LeBlanc at 184 pounds, as well as two victories apiece for freshman Jimmy Belleville (157 pounds) and sophomore Shane Onufer (165 pounds). No. 6-ranked LeBlanc now has a record of 28-4, with 22 of those wins coming by bonus-point margin. Both Belleville and Onufer each recorded falls for their team, Belleville's over Tyson Reiner of UNI at 2:33 and Onufer's over Jeb Clark of UVU at 2:10.
"We now need to focus on finishing the rest of our league schedule strong for seeding purposes, but we need to also look bigger than that," Branch concluded. "We need to pay attention to the little things that will benefit us on a larger scale at the West Regional and the NCAA Tournament."
The next two WWC dual matches for the Cowboys will be on the road, at South Dakota State on Friday, Feb. 5, at 6.pm., and then at North Dakota State on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 12 p.m.
Wyoming (WYO) 37, Utah Valley (UVU) 3
Wyoming (WYO) 26, Northern Iowa (UNI) 12