LARAMIE, Wyo. -
In a battle of two Top 25 ranked teams on Wyoming's Senior Night, the No. 19 ranked Wyoming Cowboys fought back from a 14-3 deficit halfway through their match versus No. 17 ranked Oregon State to capture a thrilling 21-17 dual victory.
First-period pins by Wyoming's Andy McCulley at 174 pounds and Tyler Harms at 285 pounds fueled the Cowboy comeback.
The win improved Wyoming's dual record to 9-4 this season. It was the first dual loss of the year for Oregon State. The Beavers are now 11-1 on the year.
"It was an exciting way to end a dual, and if you were here and you aren't a wrestling fan now something is wrong with you," said Wyoming head coach Mark Branch after the win. "Things were not going well early, I knew we could get ourselves back in it, but you don't foresee getting two pins. It can be a crazy sport."
Wyoming senior Tyler Cox, ranked No. 15 in the nation at 125 pounds, began Senior Night for the Cowboys with a convincing 9-3 win over No. 10 ranked Ronnie Bresser of Oregon State to give UW a 3-0 lead, but the Beavers won the next four matches at 133, 141, 149 and 157 pounds to take a 14-3 lead at intermission.
"It was an important win for Tyler (Cox)," Branch said. "He gave us a big spark to open the match.
"But things didn't go well for us after that. I was really disappointed in a couple of my guys. I felt they got out-wrestled and out-hustled. As excited as I am for our seniors and for us to get a good team win, I felt that after Tyler (Cox) gave us that spark we gave it up in the next four matches.
The first match after intermission saw Wyoming's Dakota Friesth, ranked No. 18 in the country, become the second Cowboy senior to record a victory on the evening, capturing an 8-5 win over OSU's Seth Thomas at 165 pounds to pull the Pokes to within eight points at 14-6.
Wyoming's McCulley then continued the streak of Cowboy seniors to win, and he did it in dramatic fashion. Only 35 seconds into his match, McCulley recorded a fall over Oregon State's Joe Latham at 174 pounds to narrow the Oregon State lead to only two points at 14-12. McCulley, who entered the match ranked 14th in the country, recorded his 99th victory as a Cowboy with his first-period pin.
"I think of my senior night and all the emotions I had and when Andy (McCulley) came out like a caged animal it scared me," said Branch. "But man what an animal he was tonight and gave us a great lift."
The 184-pound weight class was a matchup of two nationally-ranked wrestlers. Oregon State's No. 7 ranked Taylor Meeks and Wyoming's No. 19 ranked Benjamin Stroh faced off, with Meeks winning an 8-2 decision to build OSU's lead to five points at 17-12.
With only two weight classes remaining, the third matchup of ranked wrestlers was featured at 197 pounds. Wyoming's No. 14 ranked Shane Woods and Oregon State's No. 20 ranked Cody Crawford wrestled in a critical match. Woods recorded the only takedown of the match 26 seconds into the first period, but Crawford came back with an escape to end the first period with Woods up 2-1. Only 11 seconds into the second period, Woods recorded an escape of his own and the second period ended with Woods leading 3-1. The third period saw Crawford record a quick escape five seconds into the final period to narrow the lead to 3-2, but there would be no more scoring in the match as Woods notched his team best 27th win of the season and put the Pokes back within striking distance in the team score at 15-17.
It then came down to Cowboy junior Tanner Harms to complete the Wyoming comeback in the final match of the evening in the 285-pound weight class. Harms was up for the challenge with a takedown 16 seconds into the first period. He then quickly put OSU's Nate Keeve on his back and pinned Keeve 1:05 into the match, vaulting the Cowboys to a 21-17 victory.
"I have seen Tanner (Harms) be that animal and when the opening whistle blew I knew Tanner was good," Branch said. "I'm glad he could get the pin so we could wrap it up."
On a night when seven Cowboy seniors were honored prior to their final home match in the UniWyo Sports Complex, the four seniors who wrestled all recorded individual victories on way to the team win.
"We got Tyler (Cox), Andy (McCulley), Shane (Woods) and Dakota (Friesth) and then you have the other seniors like Robert (Stroh), Brandon (Richardson) and Leland (Pfeifer). I can't put into words how special these guys are, and they have helped change this program," said Branch.
Wyoming returns to action on Sunday, Feb. 15 when they will host Boise State at 2 p.m. at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyo. Sunday's match will take place at Western Wyoming's Rushmore Gymnasium.
"I'm excited to head to Rock Springs," added Branch. "It is a wrestling rich part of our state, and I'm always excited to introduce our team to fans who can't get down to Laramie to see us.
"It will be an exciting dual with a great crowd and hopefully the fans will walk away saying they love wrestling.
"This will be a home dual. We are proud of Wyoming and proud of our fans, and we are going to go over there and do our best to showcase our program."
125: No. 15 Tyler Cox (Wyoming) Dec. #10 Ronnie Bresser (Oregon State), 9-3 - WYO 3-0
133:Jack Hathaway (Oregon State) Dec. Drew Templeman (Wyoming), 2-0, Tied 3-3
141: Devin Reynolds (Oregon State) Major Dec. Cole Mendenhall (Wyoming), 10-2 - 7-3 OSU
149: Abraham Rodriquez (Oregon State) Dec. Austin Breckenridge (Wyoming), 5-2 - 10-3 OSU
157: No. 20 (Oregon State) Alex Elder Major Dec. Archie Colgan (Wyoming), 13-4 - 14-3 OSU
165: No. 18 Dakota Friesth (Wyoming) Dec. Seth Thomas (Oregon State), 8-5 - 14-6 OSU
174: No. 14 Andy McCulley (Wyoming) Pin (0:35) Joe Latham (Oregon State), Pin (0:35) - 14-12 OSU
184: No. 7 Taylor Meeks (Oregon State) Dec. No. 19 Benjamin Stroh (Wyoming), 8-2 - 17-12 OSU 197:
No. 14 Shane Woods (Wyoming) Dec. No. 20 Cody Crawford (Oregon State), 3-2 - 17-15 OSU
285: Tanner Harms (Wyoming) Pin (0:35) Nate Keeve (Oregon State), Pin (0:35) - 21-15 WYO Final