Cowboys Stay Unbeaten In Conference Wrestling

Feb. 3, 2011


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The Wyoming Cowboy wrestling team moved one step closer to an undefeated conference regular season Thursday, beating its Front Range rival, the Air Force Falcons, by a final score of 32-12.

The Pokes won eight of the 10 matches versus the Falcons, but actually had to come back from two deficits to claim the win. Wyoming now is 10-4 overall and 4-0 in Western Wrestling Conference action.

"It's not (just) about Air Force, but it's about improving," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "(The deficits) put some pressure on our guys, but our guys responded and came out and won some big matches.

"They came out to try and slow us down, and for the most part, we broke through that barrier. We got after them, and I was pleased that we were the aggressors and the offensive wrestlers. I was pleased with our effort. Our team looks more mature than a month ago."

The action began with the heavyweights, as Wyoming's Matthew McLaughlin took on Jared Erickson of Air Force. McLaughlin took an early 2-0 lead, but got caught late in the second period and Erickson got the pin at the 4:50 mark for the early 6-0 Air Force lead.

Wyoming made up half the deficit when No. 16 Michael Martinez took an 8-3 decision over Tyler Spangler in the 125-pound bout, and UW's Tyler Cox gave Wyoming the lead when he got a 24-9 technical fall over Derek Gillespie in the 133-pound match. After three matches, Wyoming had an 8-6 lead.

But the Falcons went back on top in the next match, as No. 11 Cole VonOhlen pinned Wyoming's Chase Smith at the 51-second mark in the 141-pound match. Air Force led 12-8 after four matches, but the Falcons wouldn't score any more team points the rest of the way.

No. 17 Cole Dallaserra won a hard-fought 9-3 decision in the 149-pound match over Josh Kreimier, and then Jimmy Belleville came out on fire for Wyoming in the 157-pound match. He took a 4-0 lead and never relented, winning a 10-2 major decision to give Wyoming a 15-12 team lead.

Shane Onufer, ranked fourth, led 6-1 in the second period before he pinned Clayton Gable in the 165-pound match. Onufer now is 24-0 on the season. After that, Patrick Martinez showed his resiliency in the 174-pound match. Martinez broke a 2-2 tie in the second period, and went on for the 8-2 decision.

No. 5 Joe LeBlanc cruised to a 17-3 lead after one period in the 184-pound match, and took a 22-3 technical fall. In the last match of the night at 197 pounds, L.J. Helbig held Air Force's Neil Delaney scoreless for a 4-0 decision.

"We didn't wrestle perfect by any means, but we wrestled tough," Branch said.The Pokes now will hit the road for three duals next week, starting with a WWC matchup with Northern Colorado on Wednesday. Then it's off to Oklahoma on Feb. 11, and Oklahoma State on Feb. 13. Both Oklahoma schools are ranked in the top 10 in several polls.

"We've got to be very, very prepared to go out there and battle," Branch said. "Every kid we see is going to be a top-10 kid. It's definitely going to be a challenge for our team."