Feb. 18, 2010
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -
The University of Wyoming Wrestling team beat the Air Force Falcons by a score of 22-13 on Thursday night in Colorado Springs, and in doing so won the Western Wrestling Conference regular season dual title for the second straight year.
The `Pokes earned the title outright with a victory over the Falcons (6-10, 1-4), taking their overall season record to 12-3 and their WWC record to 6-0. Last season UW shared the honor with the University of Northern Iowa.
Wyoming won six of 10 matches and got bonus point wins at 165 and 184 pounds.
"We had a very hard week of training, so the challenge for us tonight was to make up for that with our mental toughness," UW head coach Mark Branch said. "We did not do that in some of our early matches, but did pick it up in the upper weights. There are definitely some things we need to change in the next few weeks prior to the West Regional."
The dual started at 133 pounds where UW senior Cory VomBaur used a second-period escape and a riding time point to defeat Derek Gillespie, 2-0. That gave the `Pokes an early 3-0 team lead.
At 141 pounds Cowboy sophomore Chase Smith lost a major decision, 9-1 to No. 15 Cole VonOhlen, who had over five minutes in riding time. That win gave Air Force a 4-3 lead.
Wyoming junior Cole Dallaserra then fell victim to a third-period takedown and subsequent three-point nearfall at 149 pounds to Gabe Martinez and lost a 6-5 decision. The Falcons extended their team lead to 7-3.
At the 157-pound weight class, UW freshman Jimmy Belleville lost a high-scoring, back and forth match with Alec Williams, 16-11. Air Force had won three straight and led 10-3.
No. 9-ranked Cowboy sophomore Shane Onufer fought his way to a 12-4 major decision with five takedowns against Clayton Gable and earned four team points. AFA's lead was now 10-7.
Cowboy sophomore Brock Smith avenged a loss earlier this year to Tyler French at 174 pounds by winning a sudden victory overtime decision, 4-2. Smith used a takedown in the opening seconds of the extra period to get a big win and tie the team score at 10-10.
In the 184-pound fight, No. 9-ranked UW sophomore Joe LeBlanc did his job as a team leader and pinned Josh Mohr at 4:18. The win gave Wyoming a 16-10 team lead. The Cowboys' All-American was leading 13-2 at the time of the fall, his 11th of the year. He now has a season record of 32-4 with 26 bonus-point (eight points or more) margins of victory. LeBlanc's last five wins have now all been by fall (three) or technical fall (two).
197-pound UW sophomore Alfonso Hernandez earned a 3-1 decision over Neil Delaney with a late takedown in the third period at the 6:35 mark. That win stretched UW's lead to 19-10 with two matches remaining.
The heavyweight match was another close contest as Cowboy redshirt freshman L.J. Helbig lost to Stephen Larson, 5-3. UW's lead was now 19-13.
No. 12 sophomore Michael Martinez closed things out for Wyoming at 125 pounds over Andrew Zwirlein with a 6-2 decision. That finalized the team score in favor of Wyoming, 22-13.
"Tonight was not about the team score," Branch added. "It was about sharpening things up and getting ready for the postseason. The West Regional will be a wide open tournament and we will have our work cut out for us."
The Cowboys will now have a couple weeks of training before the NCAA West Regional, at which all WWC institutions compete to earn bids for nationals, which will be held on March 6 in Brookings, South Dakota.