Wyoming Wrestlers Take Home Four Tournament Titles

Nov. 5, 2011

POWELL, Wyo. - Click here for results.

Four Wyoming wrestlers finished first overall in the Northwest Open tournament on Saturday in Powell, Wyo., in their first action of the year.

Redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez (285 pounds) and senior Dallas Hintz (184) took first overall in their weight brackets, while redshirt junior McCade Ford and senior Chase Smith split the title at 149 pounds.

Twelve UW wrestlers were forced to wrestle one weight class above their slated position due to a certification mix-up, but they came through with flying colors.

Wyoming wrestlers finished with four titles, four second-place finshes, five third-place finishes and two fourths.

"I was really impressed with our 197-pounders (including Hernandez, LJ Helbig and Leland Pfeifer) going up," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "They had the best tournaments of any our guys. It's hard to tell with the weights (being mixed up), so they were at a little bit of a disadvantage. But I told them it's a challenge. They were giving away weight."

Branch did see room for improvement, especially on the mental side.

"We were really sloppy in some places. I thought we were poor defensively. Those are the fundamentals we've got to brush up on," he said.

Junior Kasey Garnhart picked up three quick wins at 125 pounds to get to the semifinals, but dropped a match to Jade Rauser (Utah Valley) and went into the consolation bracket. He wrestled his way into the third-place match, but lost by fall to Colby Christensen (UVU) to finish fourth. Garnhart was 4-2 on the day.

There were three Pokes in the semifinals at 133, including senior Michael Martinez, sophomore Jake Eitzen and redshirt freshman Zach Zehner. Martinez made the final but lost a 4-3 decision to Jesse Hillhouse of CSU-Pueblo to finish second. Zehner and Eitzen wrestled for the third-place title, and Zehner won a 10-5 decision for the bronze. Eitzen was fourth.

Redshirt junior McCade Ford and senior Chase Smith each made the finals in the 149-pound division, but neither wrestled the title match due to medical forfeit. Ford and Smith shared the title after Ford went 4-0 on the day and Smith was 5-0. Redshirt freshman Brandon Richardson was third in the same weight class, going 5-1 after recovering from an early loss to Anthony Weerheim of Montana State Northern.

Redshirt freshman Dakota Friesth made the finals at 157 after going 3-0, but lost by fall to Chase Cuthbertson of Utah Valley in the final. Friesth was 3-1 on the day.

Sophomore Patrick Martinez recovered from an early pin to make it to the third-place match of the 174-pound division. He defeated Trevor Grant of CSU-Pueblo by technical fall 15-0 and finished third overall after going 5-1 on the day.

Three UW wrestlers made it to the semifinals in the 184-pound bracket, including Hintz and redshirt freshman Shane Woods, who faced one another in the finals. Hintz came away with the victory, beating Woods in a 5-1 decision. Hintz went 4-0 on the day with one fall and one major decision, while Woods was 3-1. Freshman VJ Giulio lost to Woods in the semifinals, but managed two wins in the consolation bracket for the third-place title.

It was the UW show in the heavyweight division, as junior LJ Helbig and redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez squared off in the title match. Hernandez took a hard-fought 2-1 decision for the crown, and Helbig was second. Hernandez was 3-0 on the day, and Helbig finished 2-1. Redshirt freshman Leland Pfeifer was third, going 4-1 on the day.

The Cowboys who had to wrestle up in the weight classes will be back to their normal positions next week.

"I walk away from this tourney the same way I do every year," Branch said. "I feel educated. I saw a lot of things we need to work on, and I know we're a better team than what we showed. I do see some potential from our guys.

"But we didn't have a good mental game today. It wasn't about our physical game, it was mental. It's an urgent fix, and it's a fix we can turn around quickly."

The Pokes will compete twice next week, starting with Friday's intrasquad Brown versus Gold matches, which start at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the UniWyo Sports Complex. Then, Wyoming will host the 39th annual Cowboy Open tournament, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday in the War Memorial Fieldhouse.