Wyoming Grapplers Gear Up For West Regional

March 4, 2005

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

The Cowboy wrestling team will compete in the 2005 NCAA Western Regional this weekend on Saturday, March 5, in Fresno, Calif. Wyoming will be sending eight wrestlers to compete in the tournament. The Pokes might not have that one dominant force this year, but several weight classes have an opportunity to earn an NCAA spot.

The opponents the Cowboys will be going up against are Air Force, Eastern Illinois, Fresno State, and Northern Iowa. The Pokes have faced two of the four schools in dual action this year. They beat Air Force back on February 23, 25-24, but came up short against Fresno State in Laramie on January 29, 11-35.

Wyoming will fight for the 22 bids that the West Regional sends to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo. on March 17-19. The champions of each weight class will earn their automatic bids and 12 other wrestlers will be selected by the coaches as wild-cards. Last year, the Cowboys sent six wrestlers to the NCAA Championships. Four of them winning the championships in their respective class and two by wild-card. Two of those four champions are returnees, Samuel Wendland at 184 pounds and heavyweight Dusty Hoffschneider.

Due to injuries, the Pokes will not have wrestlers competing at 174 and 197 pounds, but the following is a preview of all the other weight classes:

125 pounds- Bryce Leonhardt is coming off a good junior season back from injury a year ago. Leonhardt is currently 15-12 with one pin and ties a team high with three major decisions. Leonhardt will be motivated for this tournament because he was not able to compete in the West Regional last year.

133 pounds- Tyson Shatto's junior season started off slow, but has picked up lately with Shatto winning four of his last five matches. His record is 9-7, including one major decision and one technical fall. Last season Shatto finished fourth at the West Regional.

141 pounds- Garrett Desmond has had a lot of experience in a tough freshman season. He has wrestled in 28 matches this year, which is the second most on the team. His overall record is 11-17 with one win by pin and another by major decision.

149 pounds- Redshirt freshman Carter Downing turned heads this year with his hot start by winning seven of his first ten matches. His record is currently 11-6 with a team high two technical falls and one major decision. Downing has been battling an injury over the last few weekends that has kept him out of competition, but he will be ready for this weekend.

157 pounds- Danny Clum has had a great redshirt freshman season. His record of 19-11 is tied for the best on the team. Clum has made quick work of his opponents with a team high of eight pins. He has won four of his last five matches heading into this weekend.

165 pounds- Sophomore Gary Dack has also had a great season with an overall record of 19-11. He is second on the team in pins with five and has two major decisions. Dack has gained a little momentum heading into this weekend winning six of his last eight matches and will definitely be in the hunt for a championship.

184 pounds- Returning 2004 West Regional Champion Samuel Wendland is riding high winning his last ten consecutive matches. The junior is 16-7 with a team high three major decisions and one pin. Earlier this year, Wendland won the Cowboy Open and is the odds on favorite to defend his West Regional title.

Heavyweight- Junior Dusty Hoffschneider will also be trying to defend his title from last year's West Regional. Hoffschneider only competed in five matches this year due to a shoulder injury suffered during football season. Of those five matches, he won four of them and two by pin. His only loss came in overtime against North Dakota State's Tim Kraemer.