March 18, 2010
OMAHA, Neb. -
Sophomore Joe LeBlanc led the University of Wyoming Cowboy wrestling team on Thursday at the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships by earning a spot in the quarterfinals for the second straight season.
The No. 7 seed at 184 pounds, LeBlanc won both of his matches on the opening day by keeping the upper hand when he was on top of his opponents. He spent over half of his match time on Thursday riding his opponents into the mat and working for back points. LeBlanc totaled 7:03 in riding time in his first two fights of the three-day event.
UW's Michael Martinez, the No. 11 seed at 125, and Shane Onufer, the No. 8 seed at 165, were both 1-1 on the day. Martinez won his opener and then lost in his second go-around, while Onufer was just the opposite. Cory VomBaur lost both of his matches at the 133-pound weight class.
On Friday morning, LeBlanc will face the No. 2 seed John Dergo from Illinois in the quarterfinals. In the consolation bracket, Martinez will wrestle Garrett Frey from Princeton and Onufer will match-up with Josh Asper from Maryland.
Friday's matches will begin at 8:30 a.m. MT.
"Well, today could have been better and could have been worse," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "You have to expect the unexpected at the NCAA Tournament, be ready to go at that opening whistle and recognize that every match will be tough. We did not do that in some instances today.
"Overall, no one looked their best and I expect that we will be better tomorrow. Having three guys still going is good and tomorrow will be the day that tells a lot about where we are at. If you are still going after Friday then you will be an All-American. It is important that we come out firing tomorrow and hitting on all cylinders."
It was Martinez against Aaron Kalil from Navy in UW's first match of the day, a rematch of a contest Martinez had narrowly won earlier this year in Reno. There was no scoring in the first, but as is his style, Martinez would overcome his opponent late in the match. With a double-leg takedown at 3:54 in the second period and then another takedown at 6:15 in the third period, Martinez finished strong for a 6-2 decision win.
In his second match, Martinez wrestled Jarrod Garnett from Virginia Tech. Garnett had upset No. 6 seed Zach Sanders (Minnesota) in the first round. Garnett maintained his momentum from earlier in the day by getting an early takedown against Martinez at 1:10. The score was 2-1 in favor of Garnett to start the second period until Martinez tied it at 2-2 with an escape. However, that would be as close as the UW sophomore would get, as his opponent added another takedown in the second period and a third period escape to send Martinez to a 5-2 defeat.
VomBaur faced Matthew Fisk from Lehigh in the first round and there was no scoring in the first period. The Cowboy senior rode his opponent for the entire second period and then earned an escape at 5:38 in the third which put him in control of the match with a 1-0 lead and a riding time advantage, however, Fisk would score a takedown at the 6:00 mark, erase his riding time deficit and ride out the match for a 2-1 win.
VomBaur then dropped into the consolation bracket where he matched up with Justin Paulsen from Stanford. Paulsen soundly defeated VomBaur by technical fall at the 5:18 mark, 17-1. VomBaur's fourth NCAA Championships and his senior season ended with an overall record of 18-10.
In his opener, Onufer could not generate any offense against Tyler Grayson from Central Michigan and lost for the second straight year by major decision in the first round, 14-4.
Looking better in his consolation round bout with Edwin Hojilla (UNC Greensboro), Onufer bounced back and earned a 6-3 decision. The match was tied in the second period at 3-3 after a Hojilla takedown, an Onufer reversal and escapes by each wrestler, before Onufer took control with a takedown at 4:30 and proceeded to ride his opponent for the remainder of the bout.
To begin his tournament, LeBlanc faced a familiar opponent in Josh Ihnen from Nebraska. The two had met earlier this year and LeBlanc had needed a riding time point to beat the tough NU freshman. This would also prove to be a close match, as the two traded takedowns and escapes in the first period to go into the second period tied at 3-3. From that point on LeBlanc would control the match. He chose down to begin the second, promptly escaped and then earned a takedown at 3:50. Ihnen would escape to end the period, but LeBlanc then racked up riding time in the third by staying on top for the majority of the period. With 2:08 in riding time, LeBlanc would win 7-5.
LeBlanc faced Jason McCroskey from Chattanooga in his next match. McCroskey had to beat Mike Miller (Central Michigan) a returning 2009 NCAA finalist at 174 pounds, to set up his Thursday evening bout with LeBlanc. However, McCroskey was never in the match against UW's returning All-American. LeBlanc got a takedown just 20 seconds into the match, then proceeded to ride McCroskey for the remainder of the first three-minute period. In the second period, LeBlanc started from bottom and quickly reversed his opponent at 3:25. Although McCroskey would escape prior to the period ending, LeBlanc would then ride him the entire final period for a grand total of 4:55 in riding time and a dominant 5-1 win. His season record is now 37-4.
Wyoming NCAA Tournament Results
W - vs. Aaron Kalil (Navy), by decision, 6-2 (Thurs.)
L - vs. Jarrod Garnett (Virginia Tech), by decision, 5-2 (Thurs.)
L - vs. Matthew Fisk (Lehigh), by decision, 2-1 (Thurs.)
L - vs. Justin Paulsen (Stanford), by technical fall (NF, 5:18), 17-1 (Thurs.)
L - vs. Tyler Grayson (Central Michigan), by major decision, 14-4 (Thurs.)
W - vs. Edwin Hojilla (UNC Greensboro), by decision, 6-3 (Thurs.)
W - vs. Josh Ihnen (Nebraska), by decision, 7-5 (Thurs.)
W - vs. Jason McCroskey (Chatanooga), by decision, 5-1 (Thurs.)