Dec. 18, 2011
RENO, Nev. -
Senior Shane Onufer won the 165-pound weight-class title and the Wyoming wrestling team finished second overall Sunday in the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Wyoming scored 115.5 team points to trail only Oklahoma State in the team standings, and seven Cowboys placed in the top five in an event dubbed the "Toughest Tournament in the U.S.A."
"Finishing second wasn't bad, but I definitely didn't feel like we wrestled exceptionally," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "I thought we wrestled worse than we did at Vegas (on Dec. 2-3.) You don't like to see that. I didn't think we had much of an attitude. I didn't think we had a killer instinct, and in some spots, we looked soft and vulnerable."
Onufer, who won the 2010 RTOC 165-pound title, went 4-0 on Sunday and beat third-seeded and 20th-ranked Dallas Bailey of Oklahoma State in the title match to take the 165-pound crown. Onufer proved he was worthy of the top seed in the weight class by defeating Bailey in a 7-4 decision in the championship match, and had one fall and one major decision Sunday. The senior now is 15-1 on the season.
"Onufer had a tough match in the finals and he wrestled his rear off and got the job done," Branch said.
Senior Michael Martinez, ranked 17th and seeded second, finished fourth in the 125-pound bracket, earning a 4-2 overall mark. Martinez made it to the semifinals but fell to Ladd Rupp of Oklahoma State. He dropped down to the consolation brackets and beat teammate Kasey Garnhart to get to the third-place match, but lost to Mitchell Lofstedt of Southern Oregon in a 3-2 decision.
Garnhart, a junior, was fifth, beating Air Force's Greg Rinker in the fifth-place match in a 10-2 major decision. Garnhart tallied a 4-2 record with one fall and one major decision.
Redshirt freshman Zach Zehner was second in the 133-pound bracket, grinding out a 4-1 mark. Zehner, ranked 17th and seeded second, suffered his lone loss of the event in the title bout versus No. 1-ranked Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State, a match in which Oliver pinned him at the 1:32 mark.
"Zehner showed a lot of maturity throughout the day," Branch said. "(In the title match), he wrestled one of the most dominant kids in the nation at any weight. But other than that he showed a lot of poise and toughness."
Wyoming's Patrick Martinez (174 pounds) finished fourth, losing in the consolation final to Lance Bryson of West Virginia in a 4-2 decision. Martinez went 4-2 for the tournament with one fall and one major decision.
In the 184-pound title tilt, senior Joe LeBlanc lost his first match of the season when Oklahoma State's Chris Perry, ranked seventh, defeated him in a 3-2 decision. LeBlanc, ranked third and seeded first, finished second overall and now is 15-1 on the year.
Redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez nabbed third place in the 197-pound bracket, beating Ryan Smith of Cal Poly in a 1-0 decision in the consolation final. Hernandez had one of his best tournaments to date, cruising to a 5-1 mark with one pin, two major decisions and one technical fall.
In the 149-pound bracket, redshirt freshman Brandon Richardson went 4-2 with one major decision and one technical fall. Dakota Friesth, a 157-pound redshirt freshman, went 5-2, but couldn't get to the placing rounds. He had one fall and two major decisions.
Two Pokes were featured in the heavyweight bracket, including redshirt freshman Leland Pfeifer (1-2 overall) and junior L.J. Helbig (2-2 with one fall and one major decision.)
Wyoming now will turn its focus to January, a month in which it will wrestle six duals. Up next is a home dual versus No. 2 Oklahoma State on Jan. 1, and 14th-ranked Oklahoma two days later. Branch will emphasize the need for improvement, based on what he saw Sunday.
"It looked like we were trying to feel guys out and we had a lot of matches where we didn't score the first takedown," the coach said. "We don't look confident. We're getting confident results, but we've got to come back with a tougher attitude. We outwrestled several kids, but didn't get our hand raised. We pushed the pace, but the bottom line is goofy things can happen. There were some positives there, but we've got to get better in a hurry."
125 pounds: Senior Michael Martinez (4-2, 1 major decision) - Fourth place
125: Junior Kasey Garnhart (4-2, 1 fall, 1 major decision) - Fifth place
133: Redshirt freshman Zach Zehner (4-1, 2 major decisions) - Second place
141: Redshirt junior McCade Ford (1-2)
141: Redshirt freshman Mike Hamel (2-2)
149: Redshirt freshman Brandon Richardson (4-2, 1 major decision, 1 technical fall)
157: Redshirt freshman Dakota Friesth (5-2, 1 fall, 2 major decisions)
165: Senior Shane Onufer (4-0, 1 fall, 1 major decision) - First place
174: Sophomore Patrick Martinez (4-2, 1 fall, 1 major decision) - Fourth place
184: Senior Joe LeBlanc (3-1, 1 fall, 2 major decisions) - Second place
197: Redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez (5-1, 1 fall, 2 major decisions, 1 technical fall) - Third place
285: Redshirt freshman Leland Pfeifer (1-2)
285: Junior L.J. Helbig (2-2, 1 fall, 1 major decision)