Wyoming Wrestling Takes Second At 2004 NCAA West Regional Tournament

March 6, 2004


Laramie, Wyo. - Senior Levi Prevost won his secondconsecutive West Regional crown in the 165 pound weight class tohighlight a very productive day for the Wyoming Cowboy wrestling teamSaturday at the 2004 NCAA West Regional Tournament in ColoradoSprings. The Cowboys finished second behind Northern Iowa in the finalteam standings with 80 team points. Six UW wrestlers qualified tocompete at the 2004 NCAA Wrestling Championships, the most Wyoming hassent to the NCAA's since 1996. Four Pokes earned their ticket to theNCAA's with 1st place finishes and two with wild card nominations.

Prevost, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, defeated Blaine Brown ofAir Force with a 9-3 decision in his first match and then took care of11th ranked Hesston Johnson of Northern Iowa in the championship boutby a score of 2-1. Prevost, who is currently ranked 13th in thenation, was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament andqualifies for the NCAA Championships for the fourth straight season.

UW's Andrew Shuler took the top spot in the 157 pound division.Shuler, ranked 13th, won his first match against Shane Seibert ofFresno State by a 8-1 decision. In the championship bout, Shulerdefeated Nick Baima of Northern Iowa by a 4-1 decision. The twovictories extends his match winning streak to 15 and marks his secondtrip to the NCAA's.

No. 13 ranked Dusty Hoffschneider earned his first trip to the NCAAChampionships by taking the tournament title in the heavyweightdivision. Hoffschneider defeated Peter Ziminski of Eastern Illinois inhis first match 3-1 and then upset No. 7 ranked Clint Walbeck ofFresno State by a 3-1 decision. His outstanding performance earned himthe Newcomer of the Year award. The Denver, Colo. native heads to theNCAA's with a 12-4 record.

Sophomore Sam Wendland was Wyoming's fourth tournament champion onSaturday. Wendland defeated Luke Lefever of Air Force in his openingmatch by a score of 9-4. Wendland won the final bout due to a medicalforfeit by Greg Gifford of Fresno State. Wendland's title earns hima trip to the NCAA's for the first time in his career.

Wyoming's Blake Gunter earned a wild-card nomination to his firstNCAA Championships Saturday. Gunter defeated Shannon Slack of FresnoState in the first round by 12-2 major decision. He was then defeatedby Dylan Long of Northern Iowa in the championship bout 9-2. Gunterhas the second best record on the squad at 24-8 and has recorded fivevictories by major decision.

In the 197 pound division, Wyoming's Kevin Kessner battled to athird place finish. The weight class featured three wrestlers rankedin the Top 20 in the nation; No. 4 Sean Stender of Northern Iowa, No.13 Kessner and No. 14 Marci Botelho of Fresno State. Botehlo defeatedKessner in the opening round by a 3-1 decision. The Rock Springs, Wyo.native fought back and defeated Jason Sherko of Eastern Illiniois andBrendan McLean of Air Force to finish third and earn his second tripto the NCAA's with a wild card nomination.

Another Cowboy notable was Barrett Duell placing third in the 125pound weight class. Duell replaced injured Bryce Leonhardt in theWyoming lineup and defeated Kevin McNicholas of Eastern Illinois inhis opening match by pin at 2:27. He then upset No. 1 seeded HeathMcKim of Air Force in sudden victory 5-3. He was defeated by ChrisHelgeson of UNI 8-2 in the championship bout.

For his efforts, Wyoming head coach Steven Suder was named 2004 WestRegional Coach of the Year. Suder has guided the program to back toback ten win seasons in for the first time in school history with dualmarks of 10-5 this season and 10-7 in 2003. The honors marks the sixthtime in his career that Suder has been named Coach of the Year. Hereceived the award at the 2001 West Regional and he was also named WACCoach of the Year four times.

"I thought our guys did what they had prepared to do," saidSuder. "They wrestled their tails off today and I am very pleasedwith that. Levi won his second title, he had to come over someadversity this season and it is good to see him on top. Our fourchampions performed very well and they are all deserving of thetitle."

The NCAA Wrestling Championships are slated for March 18-20 in SavvisCenter in St. Louis, Mo.