Nov. 15, 2008
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
An impressive 10 University of Wyoming wrestlers placed in the top-three of their brackets on Saturday at the 36th annual Cowboy Open tournament. The `Pokes enjoyed the home-mat advantage of War Memorial Fieldhouse, as they tallied two weight class titles, three runner-up finishes and had five student-athletes place third.
Wyoming redshirt freshman Shane Onufer bullied his way to the 174-pound crown in the Elite Division. Onufer had a 4-0 record, did not give up a point to an opponent and was named the tournament's Elite Division Outstanding Wrestler. He won his first two matches by fall, his third round bout by major decision, 15-0 over Brett Hunter of Chadron State, and then out-muscled Nebraska-Kearney's Kamarudeen Usman, the No.2 ranked DII wrestler in the country, by a score of 7-0 in the finals. Onufer's season record is now 13-0, with nine pins.
UW's other division champion was true freshman Lee Helbig who dominated the Amateur Division at 184 pounds. On his way to 4-0, Helbig had three pins and a 13-2 finals win over Karl Oeser of Air Force.
"I thought that this was a good tournament and for the most part we competed hard," said Wyoming head coach Mark Branch. "There were some talented wrestlers here today and a higher level of competition than we had seen so far this year. It was good to see how our guys stacked up against this talent level and how they did in tough situations, because we will be in those tough situations later in the season.
"Shane Onufer wrestled with attitude and that is the reason he won. He came into this tournament believing he would win. The hardest job I have as head coach right now is getting this team to do just that, believe they can win. I have seen glimpses of that so far this season and hopefully more guys will start to wrestle that way as we progress."
Including Onufer and Helbig, Wyoming had five total individuals wrestle in the finals. All three second place UW finishers lost to nationally ranked opponents in the Elite Division.
Cowboy redshirt freshman Michael Martinez had two wins by fall on his way to a 3-1 record at 125 pounds. He suffered a gritty 5-3 overtime finals loss to No. 15 ranked Tony Mustari of Northern Colorado.
At the 141 pound level, UW sophomore Cole Dallaserra won four matches, two by major decision, before losing in his finals match-up with No. 11 ranked Cory Fish of Boise State.
Wyoming also got three wins from redshirt freshman Joe LeBlanc at 184 pounds, including one pin. LeBlanc fell to Boise State's No. 5 ranked Kirk Smith in the finals.
The `Pokes five third place finishers included three in the Elite Division; redshirt freshman Chase Smith at 149 (4-1), senior Eric Coxbill at 165 (3-1) and junior Alex Rieder at 174 (5-1). In the Amateur Division UW freshman Kasey Garnhart (5-1) was in the three spot at 133 pounds, while redshirt freshman Tyler Davis (7-1) won the back draw of a very large bracket and placed third at 157 pounds.
The next competition for the Cowboys will be the Omaha Open, Nov. 22 in Omaha, Neb.