Wyoming Wrestlers Drop Dual To Eighth-Ranked Oklahoma

Feb. 11, 2011

NORMAN, Okla. - Facing a powerful Oklahoma Sooners club on the road, the Wyoming Cowboy wrestling team suffered a 22-10 loss Friday night in Norman.

The Cowboys, ranked 14th, took on the Sooners, ranked eighth by InterMat. Oklahoma had lost just one dual all season, to in-state rival Oklahoma State. The nonconference loss dropped Wyoming to 11-5 overall, but the Cowboys still are undefeated in Western Wrestling Conference action at 5-0.

"The positive (thing) is I thought we were better wrestlers," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "We just didn't believe we were capable of beating them. We let an opportunity slip by us. We didn't seal the deal and believe in our abilities."

No. 5 Joe LeBlanc started the dual off with some fireworks, as he took down Oklahoma's Erich Schmidtke, ranked 15th, with a 13-2 major decision in the 184-pound match. LeBlanc claimed six near-fall points and claimed a riding time point for the final margin. The win gave Wyoming a 4-0 lead after one match. LeBlanc now is 6-1 on the season versus ranked opponents.

L.J. Helbig then got a big win over Keldrick Hall in the 197-pound bout, taking a 5-4 decision. Helbig scored a last-second escape point to score the match's final point and win. The victory gave Wyoming a 7-0 lead in the dual.

Matthew McLaughlin suffered the first loss of the night for Wyoming, as he lost a 5-3 decision to No. 13 Nathan Fernandez.

No. 15 Michael Martinez and No. 7 Jarrod Patterson needed overtime to decide their match at 125 pounds, but the extra time was worth it. Wyoming's Martinez got a takedown with 15 seconds left in extra time for a 3-1 win. Martinez now is 3-1 versus ranked opponents this season. Wyoming led 10-3 after four matches.

Wyoming took its second loss of the night as No. 18 Tyler Cox lost his match versus Jordan Keller in a 6-2 decision at 133 pounds. Oklahoma then tied up the team score at 10 all when No. 6 Zack Bailey scored a 16-6 major decision over Kasey Garnhart at 141 pounds.

"I think our first five matches, we came out and we were aggressive," Branch said. "Overall, we came out and we set the tone early. After the intermission, it was just the opposite. We didn't get outwrestled, we were just timid. We didn't finish matches and let ourselves get controlled on bottom. Those things hurt. That's a bad way to lose a match. Physically, things were good. Mentally, we didn't get the job done."

No. 17 Cole Dallaserra took an early 2-0 lead over No. 19 Matt Lester in the 149-pound bout, but Lester tied in up in the second period with two near-fall points. Lester then added two more near-fall points and a riding-time point for the 5-2 decision. Oklahoma took a 13-10 team lead.

Jimmy Belleville then lost a hard-fought battle to No. 12 Chase Nelson in a 14-11 decision in the 157-pound match. After that, No. 5 Shane Onufer lost his first match of the season to the second-ranked wrestler in the nation, Tyler Caldwell, in the 165-pound match. The two battled throughout the three periods but it was Caldwell who came out with an 11-5 decision to make the team score Oklahoma 19, Wyoming 10. Onufer now is 25-1 on the year.

Patrick Martinez took on Jeff James in the nightcap, the 174-pound match. He lost a close 2-1 decision, in which James claimed the deciding point due to riding time.

Wyoming now will travel to Stillwater, Okla., for a Sunday dual with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, which are ranked as high as No. 3 in the WIN Magazine poll. It's another chance for Wyoming to prove itself against a quality opponent.

"We have to believe we can compete with the best," Branch said. "I don't want to be just OK. I want to go and do great things. I said to the guys, `The great thing about this weekend is we have an opportunity to do great things.' Sunday is no different."

Wyoming-Oklahoma match-by-match results
(Wyoming wrestlers listed first)

125 pounds: No. 15 Michael Martinez defeated No. 7 Jarrod Patterson in a 3-1 extra time decision.
133: No. 18 Tyler Cox lost to Jordan Keller in a 6-2 decision.
141: Kasey Garnhart lost to No. 6 Zack Bailey in a 16-6 major decision.
149: No. 17 Cole Dallaserra lost to No. 19 Matt Lester in a 5-2 decision.
157: Jimmy Belleville lost to No. 12 Chase Nelson in a 14-11 decision.
165: No. 4 Shane Onufer lost to No. 2 Tyler Caldwell in an 11-5 decision.
174: Patrick Martinez lost to Jeff James in a 2-1 decision.
184: No. 5 Joe LeBlanc defeated No. 15 Erich Schmidtke in a 13-2 major decision.
197: L.J. Helbig defeated Keldrick Hall in a 5-4 decision.
Heavyweight: Matthew McLaughlin lost to No. 13 Nathan Fernandez in a 5-3 decision.