Feb. 25, 2004
Laramie, Wyo.-- The Wyoming Cowboy wrestling teamwon eight of ten matches in their final home dual of the seasonagainst the Air Force Falcons Wednesday night at the MultiPurpose Gymin Laramie. The Pokes took two matches by major decision and one by atechnical fall en route to a 31-9 victory.
The win finalized UW's regular season record at 10-5 and marks thefirst time in school history the Cowboys have earned ten or morevictories in back to back seasons. Wyoming finished with a 10-7 recordin 2003. The Falcons fall to 3-7 for the season.
Wyoming got on the board early as the Falcons gave up the firstmatch of the night at 125 pounds giving the Pokes and early 6-0 lead.The Pokes would never trail in the contest as 133 pound sophomoreTyson Shatto extended UW's lead to 9-0 with a 10-6 victory overBrandon Strong of Air Force.
Cowboy senior Blake Gunter got into trouble early in the 141 poundmatch as AFA's Matthew Benza recorded seven points to take an 7-1lead after the first period. Gunter fought back scoring a takedown inthe second frame and a stalling penalty on Benza made the score 7-4.Benza took control of the final period leading 10-9 with just tenseconds left. Gunter then scored a takedown and a three-point nearfallto take the match 13-9. The win put the Pokes up 12-0.
After a Wyoming forfeit at 149 pounds, Wyoming senior Andrew Shuler,ranked 16th in the country, earned his 26th victory of the season witha 5-1 decision over Justin Gabbard of the Falcons.
Wyoming would extend their lead to 19-6 after a major decisionvictory in the 165 pound match-up. Cowboy senior Levi Prevost, ranked13th in the nation, took care of Blaine Brown of Air Force. Prevostscored four takedowns, a two point nearfall and secured the timeadvantage for a 11-2 win.
Air Force's lone earned match victory came in the 174 pound bout asJacob Lillich defeated Wyoming's Trevor Murray by a 7-2 decision.
Wyoming would pull away with victories in the final three matches.UW's 184 pound sophomore Sam Wendland won his 15th match of theseason with a 9-4 victory over Luke Lefever.
In the 197 pound bout, senior Kevin Kessner, ranked 11th, had noproblems with Brenden McLean of the Falcons. Kessner racked up 18points to McLean's three taking the match by technical fall at the6:51 mark.
Wyoming's heavyweight Dusty Hoffschneider, No. 15 in the country,capped off the evening with an impressive victory over Kurt Skarstedtof Air Force. Hoffschneider scored 10 points in the final period, tenvia five takedowns, to earn a 17-6 major decision.
"I think we are close to where we want to be," said UW headwrestling coach Steven Suder. "Tonight wasn't a great test for us,but it was a great confidence builder going into the West RegionalTournament. If we can get a couple of guys back in our lineup, whichis up in the air right now, things will look pretty good for us. Wefeel good about where we are right now and we are ready to go."
The Cowboys will now prepare for the 2004 NCAA West RegionalTournament on March 6th in Colorado Springs, Colo. The tournamentserves as the qualifying tournament for the 2004 NCAA WrestlingChampionships slated for March 18-20 in St. Louis, Mo.