Wyoming Set To Host 2001 West Regional Wrestling Championships

Feb. 26, 2001

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

The University of Wyoming will behosting the NCAA 2001 West Regional Wrestling Championships this weekendat the Arena-Auditorium in Laramie.

Wyoming will host Air Force, Eastern Illinois, Fresno State, Marquetteand Northern Iowa Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. The six teams willbe competing for 20 bids to the 2001 NCAA Wrestling Championships, whichwill be held March 15-17 in Iowa City, Iowa.

The champion in each weight class will receive an automatic bid to theNCAA's while the remaining 10 bids will be chosen by the six headcoaches following the day's competition as wildcards.

The day will begin with preliminaries and consolation semifinals at10:00 a.m. The second session will begin at 3:00 p.m. with consolationpreliminaries and consolation semifinals. The final session of the daywill begin at 7:00 p.m. with the parade of champions followed by thechampionship finals and consolation finals. True second matches willtake place starting at 9:30 p.m.

An all-day tournament pass is $16.00 for adults, $10.00 for UW studentsand $4.00 for kids 18 and under. A ticket to the finals session only is$8.00 for adults, $5.00 for students and $2.00 for kids. Tickets can bepurchased at the door the day of the tournament. For more informationor for any question call the Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-922-9461or 766-4850.

2001 marks the second year that the West Regional is in it presentform. Eastern Illinois, Marquette and Northern Iowa all competed in theWest Regional as original members until 1997. There was no WestRegional in 1998 and 1999 as the three schools were moved to the EastRegional.

But when Air Force and Wyoming broke apart from the Western AthleticConference in 1999 and helped form the Mountain West Conference they,along with current WAC member Fresno State, needed a qualifyingtournament for nationals. So the West Regional was reborn with itsstrongest lineup of teams ever. Brigham Young University also competedin the 2000 West Regional, but the University eliminated the sport ofwrestling after the 2000 season. Northern Iowa, which has won 13straight West Regional team titles, won the 2000 title.

The 2001 West Regional promises to be a competitive day of wrestling.Both Northern Iowa and Fresno State come into the Regional nationallyranked. In the Intermat team rankings Northern Iowa is #15 and FresnoState is #16, while in the National Wrestling Coaches Association pollFresno State is #16 and Northern Iowa is #18. The Bulldogs enter theRegional with a record of 13-6 while the Panthers are 11-8. Air Forceand Wyoming each have winning dual records and will have someindividuals place high in their weights.

There are eleven individuals competing who are nationally ranked intheir respective weight classes. The leader of the group is FresnoState junior Stephen Abas. Abas is ranked #1 at 125 pounds and has arecord of 26-0 this season. Abas was the National Champion at 125 in1999.

The toughest weight class appears to be at heavyweight, where threewrestlers are ranked. Senior Billy Blunt of Fresno State is ranked #3with a record of 20-3. Paul Hynek, a sophomore for Northern Iowa, is #7and Air Force junior Kevin Hoy is #15. Also at heavyweight is BradSteele of Wyoming, who has won 20 matches and was nationally ranked muchof the year.

Other who are individually ranked are Derrick Hayes of Fresno State(#16-133), Chad Boudreaux of Northern Iowa (#17-133), Scott Frohardt ofAir Force (#18-149), Nathan Vasquez of Fresno State (#9-157), Eric Brownof Northern Iowa (#16-174), Kyle Hanson of Northern Iowa (#15-184) andCraig Rumsey of Wyoming (#18-197).