March 20, 2010
OMAHA, Neb. -
A tough tournament in a deep weight class came to a close for University of Wyoming Cowboy Joe LeBlanc on Saturday at the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
The UW sophomore was 1-1 during the morning session, which placed him three spots higher than his seed, finishing fourth and earning All-American distinction at 184 pounds for the second straight year. LeBlanc moved one step up the podium and improved on his finish from last year, after placing fifth in 2009.
He is the 25th All-American (top-eight finisher) in school history and the fifth two-time All-American in UW Wrestling history.
"It is very hard to shake off a tough loss (Fri. night) the way that Joe did and then come back to pick up a big win," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "It just goes to show that he knows how to get the job done at this tournament and that he wants to take the next step. He showed toughness over the last three days and showed that he has a big heart. The results however, will keep him driving for a national championship over the next two years and I am going to encourage that."
LeBlanc wrestled No. 5 seed Clayton Foster of Oklahoma State in the consolation semifinals. A determined LeBlanc bounced back from his tough loss on Friday night with his best match of the tournament on Saturday morning against Foster, winning 8-3. He scored in a variety of ways, including two takedowns in the first period, a three-point nearfall in the second and an escape in the third. LeBlanc was the aggressor and in control for nearly all seven minutes, successfully fighting off Foster's only real scoring opportunity at the end of the second period. Foster's only points came from escapes.
Wyoming's second-year sensation would then compete for third place against No. 4 seed Mike Cannon from American University. After giving up an early takedown, LeBlanc had difficulty getting out from under Cannon's hard ride and could not get the escape point before the first period ended. Cannon chose bottom to start the second and escaped at 3:36, only to be taken to the mat by a LeBlanc takedown at 3:55. After a good ride by LeBlanc, Cannon would escape and take a 4-2 lead into the third period. The turning point in the match came at 5:45, when LeBlanc got to Cannon's leg and both wrestlers would go down at the edge of the mat. LeBlanc did not improve his position and the official ruled that Cannon then gained control of LeBlanc's hips, resulting in the decisive takedown for the American senior. Cannon would ride out the remaining time in the third period, earn a riding time point and take the decision 7-2.
LeBlanc's season finished with a record of 39-6, which places him in a tie for eighth on UW's single-season victories list with Mike Hamel (1984-85).
His two-year career record is now 84-14 with 19 pins, 18 major decisions and 17 technical falls.
Following the evening's finals, Wyoming finished with 17.5 points and in 33rd place as a team out of 78 squads. It is a very similar placing for the `Pokes, as last year they tied for 32nd with 18.5 points. Iowa (134.5) ran away with the team crown, having three individual champions, followed by Cornell (90) and Iowa State (75).
Over 15,000 fans in each of six sessions witnessed the sold-out, three-day tournament.
"I was nervous about this year since we knew going into the season that our roster would be light," Branch summarized. "So for us to battle all year like we did with very little depth was a pleasant surprise. For us to have success during the dual season, win a Western Wrestling Conference title, win the West Regional tournament and come away from this event with another All-American is good. We ended on a positive note and showed that the excitement over Wyoming Cowboy Wrestling has not worn off, in fact it is building."
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.)
W - vs. Garrett Frey (Princeton), by decision, 7-3 (Fri.)
W - vs. No. 9 seed Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma), by decision, 6-3 (Fri.)
L - vs. No. 4 seed Anthony Robles (Arizona State), by major decision, 10-1 (Fri.)
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.)
L - vs. Josh Asper (Maryland), by major decision, 9-1 (Fri.)
W - vs. Josh Ihnen (Nebraska), by decision, 7-5 (Thurs.)
W - vs. Jason McCroskey (Chatanooga), by decision, 5-1 (Thurs.)
W - vs. No. 2 seed John Dergo (Illinois), by SV decision, 10-8 (Fri.)
L - vs. No. 6 seed Max Askren (Missouri), by SV decision, 9-7 (Fri.)
W - vs. No. 5 seed Clayton Foster (Oklahoma State), by decision, 8-3 (Sat.)
L - vs. No. 4 seed Michael Cannon (American), by decision, 7-2 (Sat.)