Dec. 20, 2009
RENO, Nev. -
The Wyoming Cowboy wrestling team won some tough matches on Sunday at the Reno Tournament of Champions, but also dropped a few difficult decisions and left the annual event with plenty to chew on as they prepare to begin the dual portion of their schedule after the first of the new year.
Wyoming had six place-winners on the day, recording a third place finish by sophomore Joe LeBlanc, two fourth place showings from sophomore Michael Martinez and senior Cory VomBaur, two fifth place winners in redshirt freshman Kasey Garnhart and sophomore Brock Smith, as well as one sixth place honor by sophomore Alfonso Hernandez.
As a team, the `Pokes placed seventh of 25 teams with a total of 69.5 points. Each team could enter 13 wrestlers in the competition, but only one competitor at each weight class (10) counted towards the team score. No. 4-ranked Oklahoma State ran away with the team title by scoring 154 points, 68.5 ahead of second place Edinboro (85.5). No. 14 Penn State was third (83), No. 21 Arizona State and Ohio tied for fourth (77), No. 19 Cal Poly (70.5) and then Wyoming. The Cowboys did finish ahead of No. 8-ranked Boise State, who placed eighth with 57 points.
"We got good efforts from Kasey (Garnhart), Brock (Smith) and Cory (VomBaur), but overall I thought we wrestled at a level that we had previously surpassed," Cowboy second-year head coach Mark Branch stated. "I was disappointed in our lack of mental toughness. As a team we need to get healthy over the break, come back with a better, tougher attitude and be ready to wrestle with our emotions."
As has become a good habit, Wyoming's No. 5-ranked LeBlanc stormed through the 184-pound bracket with two wins by fall, two technical falls and a major decision victory over No. 14-ranked David Erwin from Penn State in the consolation finals, 16-8. However, that was not the finals match LeBlanc had in mind, having slipped up and lost to Nick Purdue from Ohio, 8-6 in the semifinals and sending UW's All-American to a bitter-sweet third place finish. After going 5-1 in Reno, he now has a team-best season record of 21-3, with 17 of those wins by bonus-point margin of eight points or more.
At 125 pounds, No. 9-ranked Martinez was 5-2, placed fourth and along the way beat No. 10-ranked Brad Pataky of Penn State, 4-3. However, UW's lightweight could not figure out No. 12-ranked Chris Notte from Oklahoma State and lost twice to the OSU senior.
The Cowboys' other fourth place finish came from VomBaur at 133 pounds in the first time he has wrestled down at the weight this season. He was a solid 5-2 and had to fight his way through the back draw after losing his opening round match. Garnhart also placed at 133, coming in at fifth with a 4-2 record.
Both VomBaur and Garnhart beat the event's No. 3-seed Ben Ashmore of Arizona State and the No. 5-seed Quentin Keyes from Ohio, but lost to Colin Johnston of West Virginia, with VomBaur twice on the losing end to Johnston.
Smith's 5-2 record and fifth place finish at 174 pounds included a technical fall and two major decision victories, one of which was a 16-3 win over Stanford's Jake Johnson, whom Smith had narrowly beaten by one point on a last second takedown in the team's dual two days earlier. He beat the No. 3-seed Eric Starks from Arizona State by a score of 7-4 in his final match on Sunday.
The final place-winner for UW was Hernandez at 197 pounds. He was 4-3 and made a good run through the consolation bracket before dropping a 3-1 sudden victory decision to Ryan Smith from Cal Poly in the fifth/sixth place match.
Not placing, but also getting big wins for the Cowboys on Sunday were junior Cole Dallaserra at 149 pounds and redshirt freshman Lee Helbig at 197 pounds. Dallaserra pinned No. 20-ranked Nick Stabile of North Carolina in the opening round, while Helbig beat No. 10-ranked Tyler Sorenson from South Dakota State, 6-5.
Wyoming will now take a brief break before resuming training after Christmas in preparation for their home dual match-up with North Carolina State on Tues, Jan. 5, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Wyoming Wrestlers (Tournament Record, Bonus Point Wins), Place (Top-6)