Wyoming Wrestlers Stay In Contention After First Day Of NCAA Championships

March 20, 2014


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All four University of Wyoming competitors remain alive in the consolation bracket after the Pokes posted a successful evening session on Day One of the NCAA Championships on Thursday.

Juniors Tyler Cox (125 pounds), Dakota Friesth (165) and Shane Woods (197), along with redshirt freshman Benjamin Stroh (184) will compete Friday in the wrestlebacks after each went 1-1 for the day. A tough first session, in which the Pokes went just 1-3, was followed up by a 3-1 mark in Session II. In front of 15,375 fans in Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Cowboys accumulated 2.5 team points to sit in 47th place.

"We had some tough matches this morning, and you have to hope to pull off some upsets," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "We came back strong in the evening. The important thing is when you have a small number like we do, that we've got all four wrestling (Friday). That's huge. That's your goal every day you are here. Friday's the day, the day where you become an All-American. They've all got a chance because they all are in there."

Cox went 1-1 on Thursday, winning his first-round bout but dropping the second-round match. In his nightcap, Cox had the match's first takedown of Iowa's Cory Clark, but couldn't finish off several deep shots the rest of the way. He drew within one point at 6-5 with less than 30 seconds to go. After he was forced to give up an escape to initiate more offense, he was unable to score again and fell 8-5 to the eighth-seeded competitor. Cox will face Wisconsin's Bradley Taylor in Friday's wrestlebacks.

Friesth bounced back from an early close loss to go 1-1 on Day One. After dropping his first bout, he used his physicality to upend Navy's Peyton Walsh, 8-4, to cap off his day. Friesth kept the pace up throughout to secure three takedowns and two escapes. He'll take on Ryan Leblanc (Indiana) in Friday's second round of consolations.

"Dakota wrestled well," Branch said. "(In his first match) he made a mental mistake - instead of riding the kid out, he pulled him back on top of him. But he was right there."

Stroh finished off Day One with a flourish, besting Indiana's Lucas Sheridan in a gritty 8-5 decision. He started the match with a four-point move within the first 30 seconds, and added two escapes and an insurance takedown in the third period for the win. Stroh's win propelled him to the second round of wrestlebacks, where he'll take on Lazarus Reyes of Illinois.

In a great effort, Woods recovered from a 2-0 deficit in the first period to rack up a 4-3 win over Army's Bryce Barnes. He outpointed Barnes over the last two periods and held off several shots to win the bout. He draws 12th-seeded Taylor Meeks of Oregon State in the wrestlebacks Friday.

Action picks up for Session III at 10 a.m. CT Friday with consolations and championship quarterfinals.

NCAA first-round recap
Cox began his tournament in a 4-0 hole, thanks to Penn's Caleb Richardson. But Cox ratcheted up the pressure in the second and third periods to mount a comeback. He outscored Richardson 8-2 the rest of the way and added a riding-time point to win 9-6.

Friesth tied things up at 4-4 with 11th-seeded Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (The Citadel) with just 15 seconds remaining and needed to ride out the period to head to overtime, but surrendered a late reversal to fall, 7-4.

Stroh suffered a tough 10-3 defeat to the tournament's No. 1 seed at 184 pounds, Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock. The redshirt freshman was in deep on several shots but couldn't finish to drop to consolations.

Woods dropped an 8-2 decision to begin the NCAA Championships to 11th-seeded Nathan Burak of Iowa. The junior entered the third period down just 3-1, but couldn't stave off Burak in the last period.

UW results - Day One
9th-seed Tyler Cox, 125 pounds (1-1)
Championship first round: Cox dec. Caleb Richardson (Penn), 9-6
Championship second round: No. 8 Cory Clark (Iowa) dec. Cox, 8-5

Dakota Friesth, 165 pounds (1-1)
Championship first round: No. 11 Turtogtokh Luvsandorj (The Citadel) dec. Friesth, 7-4
Consolation first round: Friesth dec. Peyton Walsh (Navy), 8-4

Benjamin Stroh, 184 pounds (1-1)
Championship first round: No. 1 Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) dec. Stroh, 10-3
Consolation first round: Stroh dec. Lucas Sheridan (Indiana), 8-5

Shane Woods, 197 pounds (1-1)
Championship first round: No. 11 Nathan Burak (Iowa) dec. Woods, 8-2
Consolation first round: Woods dec. Bryce Barnes (Army), 4-3