Sixth-ranked Wyoming Set To Battle Oregon State

Jan. 12, 2012


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Fresh off a historic win, the Wyoming wrestling program will set its sights on another key test on the road this weekend.

The details
Wyoming (1-2 overall) will wrestle in its fourth dual of the season Sunday when the Cowboys travel to Corvallis, Ore., to take on the Oregon State Beavers. The matches begin at 1 p.m. MT in the Gill Coliseum.

Post-match results and recap will be available on

The matchup
Nine of the 10 matches Sunday feature at least one ranked wrestler, according to InterMat. Wyoming's Alfonso Hernandez, ranked eighth in the country, will take on Oregon State's No. 16 Taylor Meeks at 197 pounds in the only bout to feature two ranked wrestlers.

Oregon State also features ranked wrestlers in Mike Mangrum (fifth/141), Scott Sakaguchi (19th/149), RJ Pena (18th/157) and Clayton Jack (fifth/heavyweight).

Wyoming's four ranked wrestlers include Michael Martinez (14th/125), Zach Zehner (16th/133), Shane Onufer (fourth/165) and Joe LeBlanc (first/184).

Scouting OSU
The Pokes lost 20-15 last season to the Beavers in a dual in Casper, Wyo. It will be the 25th meeting in the series, with Wyoming holding a 6-18 record.

Oregon State is 5-1 on the season with wins over the likes of Boise State, Cal Poly and Arizona State. The Beavers are ranked 16th in the NWCA Coaches poll.

"Less than a week ago, as far as dual rankings are concerned, they were ranked ahead of us," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "I have a lot of respect for their program. They have a very solid team, and looking up and down the lineup, it more than likely is going to be a very tight battle. It could come down to bonus points."

Branch and the Cowboys have had to guard against letting the win over Oklahoma on Jan. 3 affect their preparation.

"I think we've done a pretty good job of not getting too excited about the Oklahoma win," he said. "Our guys have really matured and when the dual was over, our guys weren't celebrating, jumping around or losing control of their emotions. I think they understand we didn't wrestle great. We beat a very good team but we did it without wrestling great.

"We have always emphasized performance over results. The results were what we wanted, but the performance wasn't necessarily. We came back to the locker room, and I was instantly thinking of Oregon State. We need to bust through this dual. This is a big one for us on the road. This one's going to be a test."

Wyoming made a splash when the polls were released this week. The Cowboys were ranked sixth in the InterMat poll, a tournament-based ranking, and 13th in the NWCA Coaches poll, a dual-based format.

It's the highest ranking ever for the Pokes in the InterMat poll.

What the rankings mean
Don't expect the UW wrestlers to have a sense of entitlement due to the accolades, though.

"We don't think too highly of ourselves at this point because we need to keep improving," Branch said. "That's a key for us right now, to keep moving forward. It's scary as a coach (to see the rankings), but it's exciting for our program. We want to utilize it and make it a positive factor."