Cowboy Wrestlers Drop Dual On Road to Nebraska, 19-15

Dec. 10, 2011

LINCOLN, Neb. - The Wyoming Cowboys dropped a close dual on the road Saturday night to the 21st-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, 19-15.

No. 14 Wyoming (0-1 overall) earned four wins in front of a crowd of 836 at Nebraska Coliseum, but couldn't overcome the Huskers (5-0) on their home mat.

Junior Kasey Garnhart, redshirt freshman Zach Zehner, senior Joe LeBlanc and redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez each won their matches for the Pokes.

It was the 46th meeting between the programs, and Wyoming now is 14-32 versus Nebraska all-time.

"I think all the guys wrestled hard, but we had a couple matches that were really physical," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "(Nebraska's) kids just dug down deep and I think they wrestled with more heart. They wanted it more than we did. They were putting the matches out there to take from them and we didn't get it done.

"We didn't find the will to win and those things hurt us. I think it could've been a lopsided dual in our favor, but that's the way the sport goes. When you do that against a team at their place, I think you're going to have the results we had. Where we had chances to go take matches from them, we didn't. When they came in as underdogs, they wrestled it away from us."

Junior L.J. Helbig started off the night's action with a battle versus No. 10 Tucker Lane in the heavyweight bout, but fell in an 8-1 decision. That match gave Nebraska a 3-0 lead.

Garnhart started in the 125-pound bout versus Shawn Nagel, and earned a dominating win for the Pokes. Garnhart earned an early takedown for a 2-0 lead, then added a nice takedown and near-fall points to take an 8-1 lead into the second period. Garnhart earned a stall point and an escape to go up 10-1, and added an escape to go up 12-1. Several takedowns later, Garnhart pinned Nagel at the 6:37 mark. Wyoming took a 6-3 lead in the dual.

"Kasey wrestled a great match, he dominated his opponent," Branch said. "We were looking for a tech fall, and Kasey went and dug it out (for the pin.) I couldn't ask for anything more out of him."

Zehner, ranked 16th, took on No. 18 Ridge Kiley in the 133-pound bout. Zehner earned an escape point at the beginning of the second period to take a 1-0 lead. Kiley had a takedown to go up 2-1, but Zehner got a reversal to retake the lead at 3-2 entering the third period. Kiley got a late escape point, but Zehner earned a riding-time point to win 4-3. It was Zehner's third-straight win over Kiley this season, and he now is 4-2 versus ranked opponents. Wyoming padded its lead and went into the fourth match of the night with a 9-3 advantage in the dual.

"Zach didn't wrestle that flawlessly, but he had a lot of guts. He sucked it up and got the job done," Branch said.

McCade Ford took on No. 12 Jake Sueflohn in the 141-pound bout. Sueflohn earned the 11-2 major decision. The Husker grappler had a takedown at the 1:21 mark in the first period to go up 2-0. Sueflohn added an escape point at the beginning of the second period and added to his advantage to go up 3-0, and added a takedown for a 5-0 lead. Ford got an escape point to shave the lead to 5-1 early in the third period, but Sueflohn got a takedown to add to his lead and make it 7-1. Ford got an escape, but Sueflohn got a stall point and a takedown to go up 10-2. Sueflohn added a point with a riding-time advantage and won 11-2. Nebraska cut Wyoming's team lead to 9-7 after that.

Brandon Richardson took on Brandon Wilbourn in the 149-pound tilt. Wilbourn got a takedown just a minute into the match for the 2-0 lead, but Richardson got an escape just 30 seconds later to cut the lead to 2-1. Richardson got another escape to even things up at 2 in the second period. Richardson then tried for a takedown, but Wilbourn avoided the attack and got a takedown and back points to go up 7-2. Wilbourn then added an escape point to go up 8-2 to start the third period. Wilbourn got a takedown but gave up an escape to keep the advantage, which moved to 10-3 with one minute remaining in the match. Richardson kept fighting and got a takedown with 20 seconds left to make it 10-5, but Wilbourn had the advantage in riding time, which made the final score 11-5. That gave Nebraska a 10-9 lead in the dual.

Dakota Friesth battled No. 16 James Green in the 157-pound match, and the action was frenetic to start the match. Two takedowns by Green and two escapes by Friesth made it 4-2 in the first period. Friesth wrestled well on the defensive end, thwarting several takedown attempts by Green to keep it 4-2 heading to the second period. Friesth cut the lead to 4-3 with an escape at the beginning of the period, and had a nifty takedown to go up 5-4 at the 4:30 mark. Green got an escape with 5 seconds to go in the period to tie things up at 4. Green added another escape point to take a 6-5 lead, which proved to be the final margin. Nebraska went up 13-9 in the team points.

No. 3 Shane Onufer lost his first match of the season to No. 10 Robert Kokesh in the 165-pound match. The two wrestlers showcased their defensive skills to battle to a 0-0 tie after two periods, but Kokesh earned an escape point to take a 1-0 lead at the beginning of the third period. Onufer then was penalized for stalling for a 2-0 lead for Kokesh. The Nebraska wrestler then added a takedown with 5 seconds left, and had the advantage in riding time for the 5-0 win. Nebraska took a 16-9 lead in the team points.

No. 18 Patrick Martinez was up next, and he wrestled Nebraska's Tyler Koehn. Martinez had an early takedown for a 2-0 lead in the match, and Koehn countered with an escape to shave the lead to 2-1. Seconds later, Koehn added another escape to tie the match at 2. Koehn then added a takedown for the 4-2 lead heading into the third period. Martinez made it closer with an escape at the 5:37 mark, but Koehn got a takedown with 32 seconds remaining for the 6-3 lead. Nebraska took a 19-9 lead in the team points.

LeBlanc, ranked third in the country, picked up a nice win over No. 10 Josh Ihnen in the 184-pound match, winning a 4-3 decision. Ihnen took the early 2-0 lead with a takedown with 30 seconds remaining in the first period, but LeBlanc cut the lead to 2-1 with an escape several seconds later. Ihnen then had an escape to go up 3-1 and the two stayed that way heading into the third period. LeBlanc got an escape point to cut the lead to 3-2, and then added a takedown with just 30 seconds to go. Wyoming cut the lead to 19-12, and LeBlanc moved to 3-0 versus ranked opponents."I was proud of the way Joe wrestled after the way the previous two matches went," Branch said of Leblanc. "He stepped on the mat, wrestled better, more technical, and didn't bail out."

In the last match of the night, the 197-pound bout, No. 13 Alfonso Hernandez took on James Nakashima. Hernandez took a 1-0 lead due to an illegal maneuver by Nakashima, and the wrestlers battled with that score into the second period. Nakashima got an escape point to even things up at 1, and the pair didn't score anything else in that session. The third period featured an escape by Hernandez to take the 2-1 lead, and he got a takedown at the 6-minute mark to build the lead to 4-1. Nakashima got an escape 25 seconds later to move the score to 4-2, but Hernandez's defense did not allow another point. Wyoming made the lead 19-15, which was the final margin.

"Fonz ended up wearing the kid out," Branch said. "I was proud of the way he performed. He stayed patient and wrestled at a hard pace."

Wyoming now will have for its next dual on Jan. 1, when the Oklahoma State Cowboys come to Laramie. Branch and the Cowboys will have to shake off the first loss and focus on improving.

"It wasn't all bad, but it was not the outcome we wanted and not the outcome that reflects our team," Branch said.

Wyoming will head to the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18.

Match results (Wyoming wrestlers listed first)
Heavyweight: L.J. Helbig, Jr. (8-7) loses by 8-1 decision to No. 10 Tucker Lane, Sr. (11-2) - Nebraska 3, Wyoming 0

125 pounds: Kasey Garnhart, Jr. (8-2) wins by fall (6:37) over Shawn Nagel, So. (4-7) - Wyoming 6, Nebraska 3

133: No. 16 Zach Zehner, RS Fr. (15-5) wins by 4-3 decision over No. 18 Ridge Kiley, Jr. (7-5) - Wyoming 9, Nebraska 3

141: McCade Ford, RS Jr. (4-5) lost by 11-2 major decision to No. 12 Jake Sueflohn, Fr. (11-3) - Wyoming 9, Nebraska 7

149: Brandon Richardson, RS Fr. (14-7) lost by 11-5 decision to Brandon Wilbourn, RFr. (5-4) - Nebraska 10, Wyoming 9

157: Dakota Friesth, RS Fr. (16-8) lost by 6-5 decision to No. 16 James Green, Fr. (15-3) - Nebraska 13, Wyoming 9

165: No. 3 Shane Onufer, Sr. (11-1) lost a 5-0 decision to No. 10 Robert Kokesh, RFr. (13-2) - Nebraska 16, Wyoming 9

174: No. 18 Patrick Martinez, So. (17-6) lost by 6-3 decision to Tyler Koehn, Jr. (10-4) - Nebraska 19, Wyoming 9

184: No. 3 Joe LeBlanc. Sr. (12-0) wins by 4-3 decision over No. 10 Josh Ihnen, Jr. (9-2) - Nebraska 19, Wyoming 12

197: No. 13 Alfonso Hernandez, RS Jr. (18-3) wins by 4-2 decision over James Nakashima, Sr. (8-4) - Nebraska 19, Wyoming 15