Hernandez Places Second, McCulley Third As Cowboys Wrap Up Cliff Keen

Dec. 1, 2012

LAS VEGAS -

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Senior Alfonso Hernandez led the charge Saturday as he and the Cowboys capped off a successful tournament at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, as UW finished with three placewinners.

Hernandez, Andy McCulley and Tyler Cox finished sixth or better in their respective weight classes, and Wyoming finished ninth in the team standings with 58 points.

"Overall, it was a very tough tournament," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "The great thing about it is we're probably not going to see those other teams again until nationals, so those matches we had will carry us a long way, especially the ones in which we performed well. As a team, it was not a great performance, but had great individual efforts and had some kids establish themselves as top-level competitors."

Hernandez, who finished second, lost his first match of the season to the nation's top-ranked wrestler, Kent State's Dustin Kilgore, in the title tilt at 197 pounds. After going down 4-1 to start the match, fourth-ranked Hernandez battled back to tie it at 4-all, only to see Kilgore earn an escape for the final 5-4 margin. Hernandez now is 13-1.

McCulley, an unranked sophomore, had the best tournament of his young career, toppling two ranked wrestlers en route to finishing third at 157 pounds. He went 5-1 with two pins and a technical fall. McCulley got to the semifinals with an upset of 15th-ranked Josh Demas of Ohio State, but fell to the eventual champ, Oregon State's Roger Pena (18th), to head to the consolation bracket. From there, McCulley beat Northern Iowa's David Bonin, ranked 14th, to head to the third-place match. He then pinned Navy's Bobby Barnhisel at the 6-minute mark for the win, and now owns a 13-2 mark.

Sophomore Cox went 4-3 in the event and advanced to the consolation semifinals at 125 pounds, but couldn't hold off American's David Terao in the fifth-place match, as Terao secured the fall in 4:40. Cox was sixth, placing for the third time this season in a tournament.

"Cox did himself a lot of good," Branch said. "But his style was very inconsistent, so we've got some work to do there. What separated Andy was the fact he found the kind of style he wants to wrestle with and stuck with it. To lose to the eventual champ in a loaded weight class was a great opportunity and he took advantage.

"Fonz had an outstanding tournament, but (in the title match) went out there early and you could tell he had some nerves and a lack of confidence. It was Fonz trying to figure Kilgore out instead of wrestling his match and imposing his will. After that, he had him on the run and scored a big takedown to make it a match. One thing I'm proud of is the team wrestled hard, but some guys don't have confidence in their ability and don't know what kind of style they want to wrestle with."

The Pokes will return to dual action as they hit the road to face Oklahoma on Friday and Oklahoma State on Saturday.