March 22, 2013
DES MOINES, Iowa -
For the third-straight season, the University of Wyoming wrestling program can boast two All-Americans in its ranks. Two Cowboys, sophomore Tyler Cox and senior Alfonso Hernandez, secured top-eight finishes Friday with stellar performances on Day Two of the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
With one day remaining, the Cowboys sit in 23rd place with 19.5 points in the team standings. UW now has had eight All-American performances in head coach Mark Branch's five seasons, and a total of 31 in program history.
A two-time All-American, Hernandez had designs on a national title, but those plans were derailed in the quarterfinals. The senior had an early 5-2 lead over Oregon State's Taylor Meeks, but was put to his back by Meeks and suffered a pin. The loss moved him to the consolations. That's when he earned his second-straight All-America honor by defeating Iowa's Nathan Burak in a 6-3 decision. He wrestled Iowa State's Kyven Gadson later in the evening, and dropped a 12-4 major decision.
Hernandez will face Oklahoma State's Blake Rosholt in the seventh/eighth-place match Saturday morning.
"Fonz is in a lot of pain right now. He is physically pretty beat up and he has been for about the last two months," Branch said. "He just keeps going and giving us everything he's got and I'm proud of him. It's obviously not where he wanted to finish, but he wrestles with a lot of pride. He'll finish out his career as a two-time All-American, and that is quite an accomplishment."
UW's other honoree, Cox, had an efficient day, winning three matches in the consolation bracket en route to earning All-America status for the first time in his career.
Cox, seeded 12th, put together a solid performance to upset two higher seeds Friday. He began by beating 11th-seeded Nikko Triggas (Ohio State) in his first match in a 9-4 decision, then came right back with a 13-7 victory over Oklahoma State's Eddie Klimara. In the final match of the night, Cox was dominant in his effort versus seventh-seeded Nathan Krassier of North Carolina. Cox built up a 6-1 lead after the first period and kept pouring it on, winning a 19-7 major decision. The only blemish of his day was a 6-2 loss to ninth-seeded Trent Sprenkle of North Dakota State.
"I'm really proud of Tyler, battling back after a tough second-round loss (on Thursday) to go to the consolations," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "That's a tough way to come back to be an All-American. It was really impressive, the maturity he showed. This shows you how tough it is, and what level it takes to be an All-American."
He will face Minnesota's David Thorn in the seventh/eighth-place match at 9 a.m. MT.
UW's other two wrestlers who were alive in their bracket Friday went 0-1, including sophomore Brandon Richardson and senior McCade Ford. But there's still more to wrestle for Saturday for Wyoming, including higher placing and team points.
"It's always good to be weighing in guys on Saturday," Branch said. "There are a lot of programs not doing that. It shows our program is still doing well in a little bit of a down year."
The final rounds of the NCAA Championship will begin at 9 a.m. MT Saturday, with finals beginning at 6 p.m. MT. Morning medal rounds can be seen on ESPNU, while finals can be seen on ESPN.
12th-seed Tyler Cox, 125 pounds (4-2), All-American
Championship first round: Cox maj. dec. Nick Soto (Chattanooga), 14-2
Championship second round: Dominic Parisi (Appalachian State) dec. Cox, 5-4
Consolation second round: Cox dec. 11th-seed Nikko Triggas (Ohio State), 9-4
Consolation third round: Cox dec. Eddie Klimara (Oklahoma State), 13-7
Consolation fourth round: Cox maj. dec. seventh-seed Nathan Krassier (North Carolina), 19-7
Consolation quarterfinals: Ninth-seeded Trent Sprenkle (North Dakota State) dec. Cox, 6-2
McCade Ford, 141 pounds (1-2)
Championship first round: Ninth-seed Richard Durso (Franklin and Marshall) dec. Ford, 6-1
Consolation first round: Ford dec. Luke Goettl (Iowa State), 9-3
Consolation second round: 10th-seed Charles Cobb (Penn) dec. Ford, 6-1
Brandon Richardson, 149 pounds (1-2)
Championship first round: Eighth-seed Nick Brascetta (Virginia Tech) dec. Richardson, 7-4
Consolation first round: Richardson fall (4:44) Ronnie Garbinsky (Pittsburgh)
Consolation second round: 10th-seed Ivan Lopouchanski (Purdue) dec. Richardson, 3-2
Andy McCulley, 157 pounds (0-2)
Championship first round: Scott Winston (Rutgers) dec. McCulley, 4-2
Consolation first round: Nestor Taffur (Boston) dec. McCulley, 12-6
L.J. Helbig, 174 pounds (1-2)
Championship preliminary: Helbig dec. Austin Gabel (Virginia Tech), 5-3 SV1
Championship first round: Seventh-seed Jordan Blanton (Illinois) maj. dec. Helbig, 12-1
Consolation first round: 10th-seed Dan Yates (Michigan) dec. Helbig, 6-2
Shane Woods, 184 pounds (0-2)
Championship first round: Seventh-seed Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) maj. dec. Woods, 13-4
Consolation first round: Stephen Doty (Virginia) dec. Woods, 6-2
Fourth-seed Alfonso Hernandez, 197 pounds (3-2), All-American
Championship first round: Hernandez maj. dec. Caleb Kolb (Nebraska), 15-5
Championship second round: Hernandez tech. fall Nick Whitenburg (Eastern Michigan), 19-4
Championship quarterfinals: Fifth-seed Taylor Meeks (Oregon State) fall (4:54) Hernandez
Consolation fourth round: Hernandez dec. Nathan Burak (Iowa), 6-3
Consolation quarterfinals: Sixth-seed Kyven Gadson (Iowa State) maj. dec. Hernandez, 12-4