Cowboy Grapplers Set to Make Big 12 Championship Debut

March 3, 2016

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

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The Cowboys head to Kansas City for the Big 12 Championship. The two-day tournament will take place at the Sprint Center on Saturday and Sunday. The championship opens on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. MT. and runs all day. The wrestlers return on Sunday at 8 a.m. MT. with the finals set for noon and will air on Root Sports. The rest of the championship will be streamed by Flowrestling. Fans can also follow all the action with live results from Flowrestling Arena. Brackets for the championship will be released on Friday evening.

The First Championship Since 1998-99

The Cowboys joined the Big 12 Conference last summer. Prior to that the Pokes wrestled in the Western Wrestling Conference and the NCAA West Regional. It will actually be the first official conference championship since the Pokes wrestled in the Western Athletic Conference Championship during the 1998-99 season.

36 Automatic Bids up for Grabs this Weekend

The NCAA announced that the Big 12 Conference will receive 36 automatic bids to the NCAA Championship. Those 36 bids will be up for grabs at the Big 12 Conference Championship this weekend at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. The Cowboys were part of the NCAA West Regional last season, which was only awarded 19 automatic bids to the NCAA Championship.

For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class. Each qualifying tournament, with automatic qualifying status, was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which will go to the tournament champion, even if they did not have any wrestlers reach at least two of the three thresholds.

Big 12 Conference Automatic Bids

125: 6

133: 4

141: 3

149: 3

157: 3

165: 3

174: 4

184: 3

197: 4

285: 3

Big 12 Championship Rundown

The Cowboys will send 10 wrestlers to the Big 12 Championship this weekend. Five Cowboys have experience wrestling in conferences championships for UW. Junior Benjamin Stroh is a former conference champion winning the 184 pound title at the Western Wrestling Conference in 2013-14.

125 pounds

Junior Drew Templeman has had a solid season for the Pokes at 125 pounds. He will look for a Big 12 Championship in the deepest weight class in the conference. Six spots will be up for grabs this weekend. Templeman was 16-6 on the season and ranks 17th in the coaches poll and 19th in the RPI. He went 5-3 this season against members of the Big 12.

133 pounds

Freshman Drake Foster will battle for four spots to the NCAA Championship. The true freshman went 3-4 in duals and was 4-4 against members of the Big 12. His biggest win came against Brance Simms of South Dakota State with a 9-4 decision.

141 pounds

Sophomore Bryce Meredith has been the most consistent force for the Pokes this season. He sports a 22-3 record this season and ranks fifth in the NCAA RPI and 12th in the Coaches' Panel Rankings. He went 10-1 against Big 12 members this season with his only loss to No. 1 Dean Heil of Oklahoma State. He comes into the championship with eight straight wins.

149 pounds

Junior Cole Mendenhall has settled into his spot at 149 pounds after wrestling at 141 pounds to start the season. A wrestler with an aggressive style he has won three-straight matches going into the championship all against Big 12 foes. He went 7-3 against Big 12 members this season.

157 pounds

Sophomore Archie Colgan will battle for one of three spots to the NCAA Championship. He finished the season with an 18-8 record going 9-3 in duals and 11-2 against members of the Big 12. His biggest win came against No. 12 Dylan Cottrell of West Virginia at the Southern Scuffle earning a 4-2 decision.

165 pounds

Sophomore Chaz Polson will battle for three spots to the NCAA Championship. He leads the Pokes with eight technical falls this season. He has been solid in his last two outings with a technical fall in the first period and a pin in the regular season finale.

174 pounds

Senior Jace Jensen will battle for four spots to the NCAA Championships. He dropped to 174 pounds after spending a majority of the season at 184 pounds. His last action came against Blake Thompson of North Dakota State earning a 2-0 decision.

184 pounds

Junior Benjamin Stroh is a two-time NCAA qualifier at 184 pounds. He started the season at 174 pounds. He has won his last two matches by major decision and went 4-3 after returning to 184 pounds. He is a former Western Wrestling Conference Champ at the class.

197 pounds

Junior Brandon Tribble will battle for four spots to the NCAA Championship. He has been strong as of late winning five of his last six matches. He finished the regular season with a 16-12 record. He had a big win against Brad Johnson of Oklahoma winning by decision 3-1.

285 pounds

Senior Tanner Harms may be the Cowboys hottest wrestler right now. He has won six straight matches with all his losses this season coming to ranked opponents. He is 17-3 on the season and 9-1 against members of the Big 12. He won the Reno tournament of Champions this season beating two ranked wrestlers on his way to the title. He heads to the tournament with 58 career wins.