Dec. 16, 2010
CASPER, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming wrestling program suffered a tough loss Thursday night in Casper at the hands of the Oregon State Beavers.
The nationally ranked squads took to the mats in Swede Erickson Gym at Casper College for a dual in front of a rowdy crowd of 1,237 fans, and watched as the Beavers took a 20-15 win in Wyoming's second dual of the season.
The 'Pokes hung tough early, but couldn't overcome the power of Oregon State in the end. But it's early in the season, and everyone within the Wyoming wrestling program knows it.
"This is my third year here and we always get better as the season goes," Branch said. "That's the way it's supposed to be. I told (the team) I didn't expect anything different. This is only our second dual and we came out against two tough teams and we didn't perform well, but traditionally, in my last two years, we've always gotten better as the season goes."
The action began in the 133-pound match as Wyoming's Kasey Garnhart took on No. 15 Kelly Kubec in the night's first match. Garnhart took an early 1-0 lead thanks to an escape in the second period, but Kubec countered with an escape of his own at the 5:10 mark in the third period. They headed to extra time, in which Kubec scored a takedown 24 seconds into the extra period for the 3-1 win.
"Kasey came out and wrestled a great match, up until the end," Branch said. "I saw some good things out of him in a losing effort, but he's got to learn to seal the deal and win big matches like that."
The 141-pound match was a close battle as well, as Chase Smith of Wyoming took on 12th-ranked Mike Mangrum of Oregon State. Mangrum took the early advantage in the second period with a 3-1 lead, but Smith followed with an escape to make it 3-2 in the third. That was as close as the score would get, as Mangrum went on to take a 6-3 decision to give Oregon State the 6-0 team lead after two matches.
But Wyoming got on the board in the third match of the night, the 149-pound battle. Wyoming's Cole Dallaserra, ranked 20th, got a 5-3 decision over Scott Sakaguchi of Oregon State. Dallaserra used a takedown in the second period to break a 2-2 tie, and added another point with riding time.
The Beavers got another win in the 157-pound match as Alex Elder took down Wyoming's Jimmy Belleville. Elder took an early 7-0 lead, but Belleville claimed reversal and near fall points to make it 7-4 at the end of the first period. But Elder proved to be too strong, scoring eight more points en route to a 15-8 decision. The victory gave the Beavers a 9-6 team lead after four matches.
Wyoming's Shane Onufer gave the Cowboy fans a reason to get on their feet with his 5-2 decision over John Brascetta in the 157-pound match. Onufer started the scoring with an escape, and added two near fall points and riding time to seal the victory.
Oregon State scored some more points when No. 6 Colby Covington took a 16-6 major decision over Wyoming's Patrick Martinez in the 174-pound match. Covington took the early 5-0 lead, but Martinez drew closer with an escape at the 3:32 mark. But Martinez couldn't recover from Covington's takedowns and fell.
Joe LeBlanc, ranked No. 1 by several publications, was Wyoming's best performer of the night. In just his second official match of the season, he wrestled Brice Arand of Oregon State in the 184-pound match, and got his first pin of the season. He was leading 9-4 in the second period when he caught Arand and forced the pin at 3:29 for the six-point team score. His win made the score Oregon State 13, Wyoming 12 with three matches to go.
"That was a big win for us, for him to go out and dominate like that after coming out sluggish," Branch said. "He knocked off a little bit of that rust, stayed focused, and started clicking. That's what Joe does. He'll continue to get better."
Wyoming's L.J. Helbig took the loss in the 197-pound match when Chad Hanke beat him in a close match, 13-8. Helbig took a 5-4 lead with an escape in the third period, but Hanke scored a takedown and scored near fall points within five seconds to put the match out of reach.
Joe O'Farrell took on Oregon State's Clayton Jack, who was ranked 12th in the nation at the time of match, in the heavyweight match. O'Farrell suffered Wyoming's sixth loss of the night, as Jack scored a 12-3 major decision. O'Farrell drew to within two points of Jack in the second period with an escape, but couldn't overcome two takedowns by Jack late in the match.
The final match of the night provided some fireworks as UW's Tyler Cox and Oregon State's Jason Lara squared off in the 125-pound match. Cox scored a major upset when he took a 9-2 decision over Lara, who was ranked 13th in the nation. Cox used an early takedown for a 2-0 lead, but Lara evened up the count with two escapes. An escape and a takedown by Cox made it 5-2, and he added three near-fall points and riding time.
"At the end, Tyler sucked it up and got the job done," Branch said.
While the end result wasn't what the Cowboys wanted, consider the Casper wrestling event a success, according to Branch.
"It was a great opportunity for us and we were excited to be here," he said. "It's something we'll look at trying to do in the future, travel around the state and build this program up, not only in our wrestling ring, but outside our wrestling ring, too."