UW Wrestlers Win To Clinch WWC Regular-Season Title

Feb. 17, 2012


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It didn't come easily, but the University of Wyoming wrestling team grabbed its sixth conference dual victory of the season Friday against North Dakota State, 31-6. In doing so, the Cowboys (10-3 overall, 6-0 Western Wrestling Conference) earned the WWC regular-season title as the only unbeaten team in conference action.

This is the third time in Wyoming coach Mark Branch's four years at the helm that UW has won or shared the regular-season title.

To get there, the Cowboys had to overcome a feisty NDSU team. While nearly every match was closely contested, Wyoming built an early 12-0 lead with four decisions, but NDSU got right back in it with a pin at 157 pounds. That's all it took to inspire Wyoming's upper weight wrestlers to five straight wins after that to assure them of their 10th dual win of the season.

UW's 18th-ranked senior Michael Martinez claimed a nice win at 125 pounds, beating No. 19 Trent Sprenkle in a gritty 5-2 decision to start the dual. Decisions from redshirt freshman Zach Zehner (133), senior Chase Smith (141) and redshirt junior McCade Ford (149) gave Wyoming the early 12-0 lead. But the Cowboys lost their only match of the weekend at 157 pounds, when 11th-ranked Steven Monk pinned UW's Andy McCulley.

Shane Onufer got Wyoming back on track at 165 pounds, when the third-ranked senior defeated NDSU's Joe Garner in a 10-2 major decision. Pat Martinez earned a 7-2 decision at 174 pounds, and top-ranked senior Joe LeBlanc defeated Mac Stoll at 184 pounds in an 18-3 technical fall. A 16-4 major decision from ninth-ranked junior Alfonso Hernandez at 197 and junior L.J. Helbig's 14-8 decision at heavyweight sealed the victory for the Pokes.

"It was a good road trip," Branch said. "We looked a little tired from our travel and our training, but when you can win 19 out of 20 matches over the weekend, that's a good thing. Michael picked up a tough and important conference win and we can now put our full focus on the conference championships."

The Cowboys will train over the next two weeks for the WWC Championships/NCAA West Regional, which will be March 4 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

125 pounds: No. 18 Michael Martinez (UW) dec. No. 19 Trent Sprenkle (NDSU), 5-2 / Wyoming 3, NDSU 0
133: No. 16 Zach Zehner (UW) dec. Justin Solberg (NDSU), 8-5 / Wyoming 6, NDSU 0
141: Chase Smith (UW) dec. Tyler Diamond (NDSU), 7-0 / Wyoming 9, NDSU 0
149: McCade Ford (UW) dec. Mark Erickson (NDSU), 5-2 / Wyoming 12, NDSU 0
157: No. 11 Steven Monk (NDSU) fall (6:04) Andy McCulley (UW) / Wyoming 12, NDSU 6
165: No. 3 Shane Onufer maj. dec. Joe Garner (NDSU), 10-2 / Wyoming 16, NDSU
174: Pat Martinez (UW) dec. Tyler Johnson (NDSU), 7-2 / Wyoming 19, NDSU 6
184: No. 1 Joe LeBlanc (UW) tech. fall Mac Stoll (NDSU), 18-3 / Wyoming 24, NDSU 6
197: No. 9 Alfonso Hernandez (UW) maj. dec. John Gusewelle (NDSU) / Wyoming 28, NDSU 6
285: L.J. Helbig (UW) dec. Evan Knutson (NDSU), 14-8 / Wyoming 31, NDSU 6