Nov. 13, 2009
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
In a performance that earned a team win and gave a variety of `Pokes some dual experience, the University of Wyoming wrestling team opened the 2009-10 season on Friday night against the Northwest College Trappers with a 24-13 victory at home.
On the evening, UW won six matches while NWC, an NJCAA school from Powell, Wyo., took four bouts in the UniWyo Sports Complex. However, the Cowboys were on the plus side in three of four lopsided matches and those bonus points are what ultimately propelled them to victory in the season-opening dual for both teams.
Despite Wyoming's team win, Cowboy head coach Mark Branch was not satisfied with his team's showing in front of the home crowd.
"Although we did have a couple guys who performed okay, I expect a certain tenacity and attitude from my team and I did not see that tonight," Branch said. "No one wrestled to the best of their ability. I could make excuses for them but that will not help us in the long run. The particular make-up of our team on any given night does not matter. The bottom line is that we have to go out and perform."
Returning All-American and No. 5-ranked Joe LeBlanc led the way for the `Pokes with a win by fall at 184 pounds. The Cowboy sophomore pinned NWC's Jarrett Baker at 4:04 in the second period after rolling to a commanding 12-2 lead. LeBlanc racked up two takedowns, two nearfalls and a reversal before putting his opponent on his back.
Another UW sophomore, No. 17 ranked Michael Martinez, got his team a big win at 125 pounds. Martinez used four takedowns, three nearfalls and a reversal to earn a technical fall win, 18-3, over Phillip Grout.
Tyler Davis, also a Wyoming sophomore, wrestled at 165 pounds and worked hard for a 9-1 major decision victory over Zach Oppenheimer.
"Give credit to Northwest tonight," Branch continued. "They had everything to gain, were more aggressive and wrestled with more heart. We are going to have to change our approach if we expect to improve during the Cowboy Open."
On Saturday, Nov. 14, UW will host the 37th annual Cowboy Open tournament, all day in War Memorial Fieldhouse. The event is sponsored by UniWyo Federal Credit Union.
Nearly 20 collegiate teams are expected to bring competitors and among NCAA DI schools bringing full squads are three Western Wrestling Conference rivals of the `Pokes: Air Force, Northern Colorado and Utah Valley. Event officials are anticipating nearly 400 individuals will compete.
Tournament tickets are good for the entire day and are $10 for adults, $5 for youth 18 and younger. UW students can watch the event free with a valid ID.
Cowboy Open results can be followed on TrackWrestling.com and matches are scheduled to begin on 10 mats at 9 a.m., running all day through the finals on Saturday evening.
Defending event champions for the Cowboys are Shane Onufer (Elite, 174 pounds) and L.J. Helbig (Amateur, 184 pounds). UW also had three runner-up finishes and had five student-athletes place third at the tournament in 2008.
Wyoming (WYO) 24, Northwest College (NWC) 13
* Wyoming national rankings are based on InterMat's DI preseason poll. Northwest College rankings are based on the NJCAA Wrestling Coaches Association preseason poll.