March 17, 2012
ST. LOUIS -
Two University of Wyoming wrestlers finished competition at the NCAA Championships on Saturday in St. Louis, bringing home two top-seven finishes.
First, Wyoming senior Joe LeBlanc ended his collegiate career in similar fashion to how he started it - with honors.
LeBlanc won his final collegiate match due to a medical forfeit from Nebraska's Josh Ihnen to finish seventh in the 184-pound bracket. On Friday, the senior earned All-America status in the event, the fourth time he has done so in his time at UW.
LeBlanc finished his career with 147 wins and is the winningest wrestler in UW history. He placed all four seasons at the NCAA Championships, finishing fifth (2009), fourth (2010), sixth (2011) and seventh this season and is the only UW wrestler to be a four-time All-American.
After earning an All-America nod Friday, redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez finished sixth in the nation at 197 pounds. He began the day with a tough loss to No. 3 Matt Wilps of Pittsburgh as Wilps won a 3-2 decision. That dropped Hernandez into the fifth/sixth-place match versus No. 10 Sonny Yohn of Minnesota. In that match,m Hernandez took a nice shot in the first period, but Yohn defended well and turned it into offense, scoring the takedown for the early 2-0 lead. Hernandez scored an escape, but couldn't overcome Yohn, who won the 4-1 decision.
Hernandez finished the year with 40 wins, the most on the team and seventh in UW season history.
The Cowboys finished Session Five with 31 points, tied for 19th and just four points out of the top-15. That was UW's first top-20 finish since 1996 when the Pokes were 15th.
"It was a good learning experience for us. You don't want to come to this tournament and walk away empty-handed and we didn't do that," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "It wraps up one of the best seasons we've ever had. That's the way I'm looking at it, to focus on the positive and learn from the negative things.
"I say every year there's not very many people here who leave completely satisfied. We're far from satisfied. In this tournament, you have to be willing to go out there and take chances and clear your own path. If you want to roll with the big boys and be a top-10 team, you've got to produce when it counts."
UW Tournament Results
Michael Martinez, 125 pounds (1-2)
Championships first round: 10th-seeded Nicholas Megaludis (Penn State) maj. dec. Martinez, 13-5
Consolation second round: Martinez dec. Max Soria (Buffalo), 7-2
Consolation third round: Camden Eppert (Purdue) dec. Martinez, 6-3
Zach Zehner, 133 (1-2)
Championship first round: Zehner tech. fall Scott Festejo (Old Dominion), 21-6
Championships second round: Fourth-seeded Bernard Futrell (Illinois) fall (1:06) Zehner
Consolation second round: Matthew Nelson (Virginia) dec. Zehner, 10-9
No. 2 Shane Onufer, 165 (2-2)
Championship first round: Onufer dec. Benjamin Jordan (Wisconsin), 4-1
Championship second round: Onufer dec. Daniel Yates (Michigan), 6-3
Championship third round: Seventh-seeded Josh Asper (Maryland) dec. Onufer, 5-3
Consolation quarterfinals: Sixth-seeded Peter Yates (Virginia Tech) dec. Onufer, 10-3
Pat Martinez, 174 (1-2)
Championship first round: Lance Bryson (West Virginia) dec. Martinez, 2-1 OT
Consolation first round: Martinez maj. dec. Levi Clemons (Chattanooga), 12-4
Consolation second round: Ryan Leblanc (Indiana) dec. Martinez, 5-3 2OT
No. 1 Joe LeBlanc, 184 (4-2) / Seventh place, All-American
Championship first round: LeBlanc dec. Mike Larson (Missouri), 9-4
Championship second round: LeBlanc maj. dec. Erich Smith (Penn), 11-3
Championship third round: Ninth-seeded Austin Trotman (Appalachian State) dec. LeBlanc, 12-9
Consolation quarterfinals: LeBlanc dec. Tony Dellago (Illinois), 13-6
Consolation semifinals: Fifth-seeded Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota) dec. LeBlanc, 9-6
Seventh/eighth-place match: LeBlanc wins by medical default over Josh Ihnen (Nebraska)
No. 9 Alfonso Hernandez, 197 (4-3) / Sixth place, All-American
Championship first round: Hernandez maj. dec. Daniel Mitchell (American), 10-2
Championship second round: Hernandez dec. eighth-seeded Matt Powless (Indiana), 7-6
Championship third round: First-seeded Cam Simaz (Cornell) dec. Hernandez, 8-2
Consolation quarterfinals: Hernandez dec. seventh-seeded Mario Gonzalez (Illinois), 7-6
Consolation semifinals: Hernandez dec. 11th-seeded Micah Burak (Penn), 2-1
Consolation semifinals: No. 3 Matt Wilps (Pittsburgh) dec. Hernandez, 3-2
Fifth/sixth-place match: No. 10 Sonny Yohn (Minnesota) dec. Hernandez, 4-1