Cowboy Wrestling Returns To Host First Conference Dual

Jan. 18, 2012

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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Two opponents will take the mats this weekend to face the University of Wyoming wrestling team Friday and Saturday.

On the slate
After hitting the road for its last dual, No. 12 Wyoming (2-2 overall, 0-0 Western Wrestling Conference) welcomes a pair of teams into the UniWyo Sports Complex this weekend. The Pokes will wrestle Cal Poly in a non-conference tilt at 7 p.m. Friday and will take on WWC foe Utah Valley at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The history
The Cowboys lost to Cal Poly last season on the road 18-16, and later in the year defeated Utah Valley 23-15. Wyoming is 0-4 versus the Mustangs all-time, and 6-1 versus the Wolverines.

A glance at Cal Poly
The Mustangs (4-3, 2-2 Pac-12) competed in five tournaments in the first two months of the season before heading into the dual portion of the 2011-12 slate. Cal Poly won its first two duals of the season, defeating CSU Bakersfield 28-10 and Menlo College 40-6, before dropping a 36-6 decision against Oregon State on Dec. 11.

Following a 25-13 non-conference loss to American and a 22-20 Pac-12 victory over Boise State, the Mustangs beat Division II San Francisco State 25-13 and fell 23-17 to Stanford in a Pac-12 battle.

Cal Poly will send three nationally ranked wrestlers into this weekend's event, including 141-pounder Boris Novachkov (ranked No. 4), 174-pounder Ryan DesRoches (No. 4) and 197-pounder Ryan Smith, ranked 18th.

Conference opener
The Pokes will open the WWC portion of their schedule Saturday versus Utah Valley. Since 2006-07, the first year of the WWC, the Cowboys are 5-0 versus Utah Valley and 3-2 in WWC openers.

Utah Valley (3-4 overall, 0-0 WWC) defeated Boise State at home, but dropped two duals to No. 12 Oklahoma and Chattanooga at the Lone Star Duals. The Wolverines fell 27-7 to the Mocs and 43-0 to the Sooners. Utah Valley also has beaten Buffalo and Shippensberg, and lost to two ranked teams in Ohio State and Illinois.

Utah Valley has one wrestler ranked in the top 20 of the InterMat polls, 149-pounder Josh Wilson, who is 13th in the nation. Wilson may not be in the starting lineup Saturday due to injury.

That home cooking
"We're happy to be here at home and kick off our conference schedule," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "The thing I'm excited about most is our students are back. I think our students are excited to see the wrestling program and how we've progressed.

"There's been a lot of hype and talk about our team and now we get to display that. Hopefully we have a packed gym this weekend because we have a couple of competitive duals. We want to get in there and make an environment that is tough on our opposition and have our kids to feel the love."

Lineup shakeup
Fans may see a slightly different lineup this weekend than the Pokes have used in the four previous duals. That includes some changes at some weights, where several wrestlers may have a shot to get the nod.

"The type of schedule that we wrestled through December and early January, it was a beast," Branch said. "Now we're going to give an opportunity for a few guys to see some mat time. (It's) not that these duals won't be competitive (but) we were in some serious dog fights in early January, so it's kind of nice to take a breath and be able to go into these duals and look at our potential. We need to go in there and establish ourselves as a dominant team."