Wyoming Cowboy Wrestlers Place Second at 2006 Regional Tournament

March 5, 2006


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    The University of Wyoming Cowboy Wrestling team hosted the 2006 NCAA Division I West Regional Tournament on Sunday at the Arena-Auditorium on the UW campus. With six Cowboys in the finals and four Pokes going on to win individual championships, Wyoming would place second in the team standings behind only Northern Iowa.

    Wrestling in the finals of their weight classes for UW were three seniors, Bryce Leonhardt (125 lbs), Malcolm Havens (197 lbs) and Dusty Hoffschneider (285 lbs), and three sophomores, Carter Downing (149 lbs), Danny Clum (157 lbs) and Bryan Bernal (174 lbs). Clum, Downing, Havens and Hoffschneider all earned victories in their West Regional title bouts and automatic berths to the NCAA National Championships, March 16-18 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

    "There are so many intangibles that go into something as intense as this," UW head coach Steven Suder said. "My hat's off to these guys.

    "We had some goals coming into this thing, and we met a bunch of them today. We knew that the finals were going to be the tell-tale round, and we knew that we had to turn around a couple of early losses. We knew if Northern Iowa got those first three titles, it was going to be tough to catch them."

    UW senior heavyweight Dusty Hoffschneider after winning his semifinal match on Sunday.

    In perhaps the match of the night, Hoffschneider brought the mostly pro-Wyoming crowd to their feet when he pinned Fresno State's Cody Parker in the heavywieght championship match at the 4:06 mark. The Cowboy senior looked to be in trouble when Parker rolled him to his back in the second period, however, Hoffschneider reversed his opponent and stuck him to the mat to earn his third consecutive trip to Nationals.

    Another winner by pin for the Pokes in his 197 pound title match was Havens. The Parker, Colo. product earned his first West Regional title and his first trip to the NCAA National Championships when he put AFA's Brenden McLean on his back for the fall at 4:43.

    "Dusty and Malcolm just found a way to get the job done," Suder said. "These guys are such warriors, but even a warrior has to make a decision to fight. We saw that out of both guys."

    Downing punched his first ticket to Oklahoma City with two impressive major decision victories at 149 pounds. The Cowboy sophomore downed FSU's Dustin Rocha by a score of 14-0 in the semifinals, and then rolled over UNI's Ryan Osgood 10-2 in the 149 pound final.

    Clum pinned the Falcon's Bridger Lord in the first period (1:53) of his initial match at 157 pounds, and then held on in his title bout for a narrow 7-6 decision over the Panther's Chris Bitetto. This will be the second consecutive trip to the National Championship event for Clum.

    The UNI Panthers scored 95.5 team points to earn the team title and give themselves a nine and a half point victory over the remainder of the field. The Cowboys were runner-up at 86, followed by Fresno State (61), Air Force (60.5) and Eastern Illinois (26). UW and UNI each won four individual titles, while FSU and EIU each won a weight class championship.

    Selected by a vote of the head coaches from each school were the event's Outstanding Wrestler, Nick Baima of UNI at 165 pounds, and Coach of the Year, Air Force's Wayne Baughman.

    Wyoming's Leonhardt and Bernal earned the Cowboys valuable team points by advancing to the finals, but were unable to come away with wins. Leonhardt lost to UNI's Seth Wright 9-5, while Bernal got caught and pinned in the third period by EIU's Kenny Robertson.

    Despite the loss, Leonhardt will also be making his first trip to nationals as he received a wild-card nomination at the end of the tournament.

    UW senior Tyson Shatto went 2-2 in his final matches as a Cowboy at 133 pounds, with one pin to his credit. Freshman Shay Lawrence went 1-2 for Wyoming at 141 pounds, as did junior Gary Dack at 165 pounds. Preston Pavich was 0-2 for UW at 184 pounds.

    (L to R) Wyoming assistant coach Matt Johnson, trainer Sonja Herman and head coach Steven Suder celebrate after Cowboy Dusty Hoffschneider's pin in the heavyweight final.