Nov. 21, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. - Senior wrestler Joe LeBlanc again showed why he's considered one of the top wrestlers in the nation on Monday night in the NWCA All-Star Classic.
LeBlanc had the most dramatic win of the night in the event, scoring a late takedown to get past No. 8 Ben Bennett of Central Michigan. LeBlanc overcame an early deficit to claim the 5-4 decision.
LeBlanc and senior teammate Shane Onufer wrestled on the Arizona State campus against some of the top collegiate wrestlers in the country. Both Onufer and LeBlanc competed Saturday in the Nebraska-Kearney Open and traveled to Arizona the next day.
"It was a long week of travel but neither one was complaining," UW assistant coach Chris Pendleton said. "They were excited to be here."
LeBlanc gave up an early takedown to Bennett to go down 2-0, but managed a crafty escape to make it 2-1 just a few seconds later in the first period.
Bennett then added an escape point to go up 3-1 at the beginning of the second period, which accounted for all the scoring in the period.
But LeBlanc worked for a reversal to tie it up 3-3 and continue to control Bennett, but then gave up an escape to go down 4-3. LeBlanc then made his nicest move of the night, faking out Bennett to score a takedown with less than 15 seconds to go to take the 5-4 decision.
"Joe did what Joe does. He found a way to get it done," Pendleton said. "He's disappointed because he wanted to highlight some of the things he worked on over the summer and this fall. Even though he won, he's not very happy with his performance. It's surreal to see a guy that won mad at himself. His only goal this year is to be an NCAA champion."
Onufer wrestled well, but fell to No. 3 Josh Asper of Maryland in a hard-fought 6-4 decision.
Onufer surrendered an early takedown, but scored an escape to make it 2-1 in the early going. He fought off a shot from Asper at the end of the first period to keep it 2-1.
Asper scored an escape point to make it 3-1 early in the second period. He gave up another takedown at the edge of the mat to go down 5-1 at the end of the second period.
Onufer had a nifty escape at the beginning of the third period to make it 5-2. He added a takedown to make it 5-4. Onufer was forced to give up an escape point to create an opening for an attack, but couldn't manage a takedown. Asper had another point added for riding time for the 6-4 win.
"Shane got his motor going just a little too late," Pendleton said. "I don't think he felt like he lost the match. He just ran out of time. Luckily it's November and the NCAA (Championships) aren't until March.
"Sometimes you need a loss to get going. He's excited to get back to work."
The annual 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.