Nov. 21, 2010
FRESNO, Calif. - Wyoming's Joe LeBlanc has set his sights high for this season on the wrestling mat for the Cowboys.
He got the start he was looking for Saturday in Fresno.
LeBlanc, a junior, defeated Purdue's A.J. Kissel in the 184-pound match at the 45th National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic. LeBlanc, wrestling for just the second time this year, took home a 10-5 win over the No. 5-ranked Kissel. It was a good start for the two-time All-American and two-time West Regional champion, who has national title hopes in 2011. But an injury has slowed his progress in terms of practice time and competition this year.
"The rust was there. As the match went on, you could kind of tell he had some time off for an injury," UW assistant Chris Pendleton said. "What I told him was this is the No. 5 kid in the nation, but he wasn't satisfied with his performance. That kind of mindset will help him. That was only his second match of the year. If that's what it looks like, that's pretty good."
Wyoming also was represented in the meet by junior Shane Onufer. Onufer, a two-time NCAA West Regional champion and two-time NCAA Tournament qualifier, was bested by No. 5 Josh Asper of Maryland, 3-2, in the 165-pound match. The two met once last season, with Asper earning a 9-1 major decision in the second round consolations at the NCAA Division I Championships in Omaha.
"Shane came out a little sluggish, but after that, it was game on," Pendleton said. "He was in position after that. The opportunity was there for him. It was his first time this season to really get to prove himself. He was in a position to win the match, and I'm confident he'll learn from this and get better."
The event is put on to create the best possible match-ups at each weight class in an effort to draw attention to the sport and the NWCA's fund raising efforts. All matches are exhibition in terms of season records and do not count in national rankings.