March 21, 2009
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -
The season ended for the University of Wyoming Cowboy wrestling team on Saturday at the 2009 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Mo., but not before there was another All-American to add to the list of Cowboy greats.
Wyoming redshirt freshman Joe LeBlanc placed fifth at 184 pounds, becoming the first All-American in 13 years for UW's wrestling program and the 24th in school history. LeBlanc was 1-1 on Saturday, 5-2 overall at the NCAA Tournament and his only two losses came at the hands of Top-Three finishers.
"Joe had a great tournament, there is no denying that," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. ""He was crushed after his loss today in overtime to the kid from Rider, but he cooled off and really put it together in his last match, just as he did several times over the last three days. However, he is not satisfied with fifth and will use what he learned here as motivation for next year."
LeBlanc is UW's first freshman All-American in program history, as well as the `Pokes first All-American in wrestling since 1996 when Brent Voorhees (seventh), Brandon Alderman (sixth) and Reese Andy (second) all earned the distinction. The five wins by LeBlanc at the NCAA Tournament was also the highest number for the Cowboy program since `96 when Voorhees was 5-2.
"Coach Branch had us prepared for this tournament," LeBlanc said. "I was ready to compete here and to have this kind of success at NCAAs, in front of my family and friends means a lot.
"As a team we were trying to make a statement here about Wyoming Wrestling. This is just the beginning and none of us are satisfied yet, including myself."
LeBlanc matched-up with the event's No. 7 seed Doug Umbehauer from Rider in his first match on Saturday morning. The winner of the match would compete for third and fourth place, while the loser would wrestle for fifth and sixth.
It was a high-scoring, overtime affair with 24 points scored between the two, however, LeBlanc would come out on the losing end by a final of 13-11. LeBlanc used a takedown and nearfall in the first period to lead 5-2 after the first three minutes. He then added to that lead in the second with two escapes and another takedown for a 9-5 advantage heading into the final period. In the third, LeBlanc managed only two escapes and a riding time point, while Umbehauer racked up two takedowns and a nearfall to take the match into sudden victory overtime. In sudden victory, Umbehauer wasted no time getting to LeBlanc's legs and ending the match with a takedown, 13-11.
Umbehauer would go on to take third place later in the day by beating Iowa's Phil Keddy. LeBlanc's only other loss of the tournament came to the No. 1 seed from Northwestern, Jake Herbert, who has cruised through his half of the bracket and will wrestle Saturday night for the title.
LeBlanc had to recover from the heart-breaking loss to Umbehauer quickly, as he had a brief two-hour rest period before meeting No. 12 seed Vince Jones of Nebraska to decide fifth and sixth place. The two had met earlier this season at the Las Vegas Invitational with LeBlanc winning a 9-7 sudden victory overtime decision.
In what would be his final match of the season, LeBlanc dominated from beginning to end. He took Jones down 45 seconds into the match and then earned another takedown with only ten seconds remaining in the first period. Leading 4-1, LeBlanc chose to start the second period on bottom and promptly earned an escape point to take a 5-1 margin into the third period. He gave up only one escape during the final period, adding a takedown, a stalling point and a riding time point to win 9-2.
He finishes the season with a record of 45-8 and is tied for third place on UW's Single Season Victories list with Wes Gasner, who had 45 wins during the 1983-84 season.
"As a team we need to build on this tournament and get to the point where we put out All-Americans every year," Branch concluded. "Our guys were not here for the experience, they were here to compete. They were not perfect by any means, but overall wrestled very good and gave everything they had."
Wyoming NCAA Tournament Results
125 pounds - Michael Martinez, 1-2
W - vs. No. 17 ranked Marcus Orozco (UC Davis), by decision, 7-1 (Thurs.)
L - vs. No. 4 seed Brandon Precin (Northwestern), by decision, 6-1 (Thurs.)
L -vs. Brandon Zoetewey (Cal State Bakersfield), by decision, 4-3 (Fri.)
133 pounds - Cory VomBaur, 1-2
L - vs. David Marble (Bucknell), by major decision, 10-0 (Thurs.)
W - vs. Frank Celorrio (Appalachian St.), by decision, 6-0 (Thurs.)
L - vs. No. 8 seed Joe Baker (Navy), by decision, 5-4 (Fri.)
174 pounds - Shane Onufer (No. 17 ranked), 2-2
L - vs. No. 4 seed Jay Borschel (Iowa), by major decision, 13-1 (Thurs.)
W - vs. Anthony Trongone (Virginia Tech), by decision, 7-2 (Thurs.)
W - vs. Scott Giffin (Penn), by decision, 5-3 (Fri.)
L - vs. John Dergo (Illinois), by decision, 5-3 (Fri.)
184 pounds - No. 9 seed Joe LeBlanc (No. 8 ranked), 5-2 (Fifth place) All-American
W - vs. No. 12 ranked Jordan Blanton (Illinois), by decision, 12-7 (Thurs.)
W - vs. No. 8 seed David Craig (Lehigh), by major decision, 11-3 (Thurs.)
L - vs. No. 1 seed Jake Herbert (Northwestern), by major decision, 18-5 (Fri.)
W - vs. No. 10 seed Chris Honeycutt (Edinboro), by decision, 7-2 (Fri.)
W - vs. No. 6 seed Josh Patterson (Binghamton), by fall at 2:30 (Fri.)
L - vs. No. 7 seed Doug Umbehauer (Rider), by SV decision, 13-11 (Sat.)
W - vs. No. 12 seed Vince Jones (Nebraska), by decision, 9-2 (Sat.)