Cowboy Wrestlers Earn Split At NWCA National Duals

Feb. 12, 2012


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It was a tale of two duals for the Wyoming wrestling team Sunday in the NWCA National Duals in Stillwater, Okla. After opening the day with a dominating 38-6 win over Chattanooga, the Cowboys (8-3 overall, 4-0 Western Wrestling Conference) managed just two match wins versus second-ranked Oklahoma State and dropped a 28-7 contest.

"We wrestled extremely well in the first dual, and had an overall good strong performance," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "We did a good job of building on the last two wins, but we came out against OSU and didn't give ourselves an opportunity to win."

Oklahoma State 28, Wyoming 7
In the first match of the dual, No. 18 Michael Martinez, a UW senior, lost a closely fought battle at 125 pounds to OSU's 13th-ranked Jon Morrison in a 3-1 decision in overtime. Oklahoma State took a 3-0 lead.

OSU's second-ranked Jordan Oliver defeated 17th-ranked redshirt freshman Zach Zehner at 133 pounds in a 17-4 major decision. It was a better showing than their previous two meetings, in which Oliver pinned Zehner both times. After that, senior Chase Smith took on OSU's Josh Kindig at 141 pounds. Smith fell behind early and never recovered, dropping an 11-3 major decision. Oklahoma State led 11-0 after three matches. Then UW junior McCade Ford took on second-ranked Jamal Parks at 149, and dropped a 12-5 decision to the highly touted OSU wrestler. OSU took a 14-0 lead heading into the fifth match of the dual.

Redshirt freshman Andy McCulley took on 11th-ranked Albert White of Oklahoma State at 157 pounds. The freshman from Rock Springs showed some moxie, riding White the entire second period as the duo scrambled for a 0-0 tie after two periods. McCulley earned the escape to begin the final period, but White worked for a takedown to take the 2-1 late lead. McCulley then added an escape with less than 10 seconds left to send it to overtime. But it was White who earned the 4-2 sudden victory less than 15 seconds into the overtime period with a takedown. OSU improved its lead to 17-0.

UW's third-ranked senior Shane Onufer took on Dallas Bailey at 165 pounds. Bailey earned an escape shortly in the second period, but Onufer countered with a takedown for the 2-1 lead. Onufer then escaped to start the third for the 3-1 lead, and worked for an illegal-hold point and takedown for the 6-1 lead. With riding time, Onufer earned the 7-1 victory for his 14th-straight win. At 174 pounds, sophomore Pat Martinez took on third-ranked Chris Perry of OSU. Perry earned an escape point and added a takedown for the early 3-0 lead. Another Perry escape made it 4-0, and he added another takedown and riding time, and Martinez fell in a 7-1 decision.

Top-ranked Joe LeBlanc took on OSU's Chris McNeil in the 184-pound tilt. Perry got a nice early shot, but LeBlanc held great defensive position to limit him to no points. Then LeBlanc worked for a nice takedown for the early 2-0 and added two near-fall points to take a 4-0 lead into the second period. An escape for LeBlanc made it 5-0, and he added another takedown for the 7-0 lead through two periods. McNeil earned a nice takedown to cut LeBlanc's lead to 7-2, but LeBlanc escaped just seconds later. LeBlanc secured more offense and near-fall points later in the period, and he earned the 14-2 major decision. It was LeBlanc's 10th-consecutive victory, and Wyoming cut the margin to 20-7.

In one of the most exciting matches of the day, Wyoming's ninth-ranked junior Alfonso Hernandez took on Cayle Byers at 197 pounds. Hernandez earned the early takedown and got an escape to go up 3-0, but Byers earned a takedown halfway through the second period to make it 3-2. But Hernandez escaped to go up 4-2, but Byers countered with another escape to draw closer at 4-3. A fleeing call on Hernandez and a takedown with less than five seconds remaining gave Byers the 6-4 decision.

Cowboy junior L.J. Helbig took on second-ranked Alan Gelogaev at heavyweight, and fell in an 18-3 technical fall. The final score was OSU 28, Wyoming 7.

"Martinez is a hair away from winning, McCulley is a hair away from winning and Fonz gives up a takedown at the buzzer," Branch said. "If we would've taken care of business, we're in the mix. Against a good team like that, you have to believe you can do that. We didn't do it and it shows."

Wyoming 38, Chattanooga 6
Michael Martinez beat Chattanooga's Manuel Ramirez in a 5-4 decision in overtime at 125 pounds. After that, Zehner earned one of his biggest wins of the season, pinning 13th-ranked Nick Soto at the 5:34 mark of the 133-pound bout. It was Zehner's eighth pin of the season and fifth victory over a ranked opponent.

Smith defeated Shawn Greevy in a 15-1 major decision at 141 pounds, and Wyoming held a commanding 13-0 lead after three matches. Wyoming added to its team lead after the 149 pound match, as Ford beat Chattanooga's Kelly Felix in a tough 3-2 decision. UW took a 16-0 lead after four matches.

The Pokes continued to pour on the points at 157 pounds, when McCulley beat Daniel Waddell in a 7-3 decision, and Onufer stayed the course and worked for an 8-0 major decision over Chattanooga's Brandon Wright at 165 pounds. Wyoming took a 23-0 lead after six matches and Onufer claimed his fourth major decision of the season.

Pat Martinez defeated Levi Clemons of the Mocs at 174 pounds in a 12-4 major decision. The major was Martinez's sixth of the year. LeBlanc then pinned Robert Prigmore at 5:41 in the 184-pound bout, and Wyoming took a 33-0 lead into the final two matches. LeBlanc earned his ninth pin of the season, second on the team.

Hernandez continued to impress, winning by a 15-0 technical fall at 197 pounds over Moc Cory Canada. Hernandez's 10th-straight win also was his second tech fall of the season and 31st victory to lead UW.

UW's lone loss came at the heavyweight level when Chattanooga's Kevin Malone pinned junior L.J. Helbig at the 6:33 mark.

"We beat some highly ranked kids," Branch said of his team's performance against the Mocs. "Zehner beat a very good kid and McCulley beat a ranked kid at 157. Overall, the whole team looked good in that first dual.

"But really, it's hard to impress me when you don't finish a match. That's what matters right now."

The Pokes will hit the road this week for the last two regular-season duals, visiting South Dakota State on Thursday and North Dakota State on Friday.