UW Wrestlers Compete Saturday for Automatic Bids to National Championships

March 4, 2010

LARAMIE, Wyo. -

The No. 25-ranked Wyoming Cowboys will begin their postseason this week when they travel to the NCAA West Regional, a one-day qualifying tournament at which all Western Wrestling Conference institutions will compete to earn automatic bids for nationals.

The event will be held in Frost Arena on the South Dakota State University campus on Saturday, March 6, in Brookings, S.D. Matches will start at 9 a.m. (MT), and the finals will begin at 4 p.m.

The Western Wrestling Conference (WWC) is comprised of seven schools including the Air Force Academy, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Utah Valley and Wyoming. Since all league schools compete at the West Regional the WWC uses the event as its conference championship.

Last season the `Pokes finished second and lost to the Northern Iowa Panthers by a mere one and a half points. UNI has won the team NCAA West Regional title for 24 straight seasons, a streak that the Cowboys hope to break this year.

Tournament information, results and live video of the finals matches will be available at GoJacks.com.

The 2009-10 season will mark the 11th year (since 2000) that Wyoming has qualified for the NCAA Championships through the West Regional Tournament. UW has finished in second place three times, 2004, 2006 and 2009. Prior to 2000, the Cowboys were members of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and qualified for nationals via that conference tournament.

Each weight at the Western Wrestling Regional has been awarded a specific number of automatic bids for the NCAA Division I Wrestling National Championships. The automatic bids for each weight are; 125 pounds (2), 133 (1), 141 (3), 149 (1), 157 (1) 165 (1), 174 (2), 184 (1), 197 (1) and Hwt (1). The winners of each weight class will take an automatic bid, along with the next highest finishers in the divisions which were awarded multiple qualifiers.

The National Championships will be held in Omaha, Neb., March 18-20 at the Qwest Center Omaha.

After all of the qualifying events have concluded, of which the West Regional is one, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 46 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 10. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers.

The following line-up is expected to compete for the Cowboys at the Western Wrestling Regional.

  • 125 pounds - Sophomore Michael Martinez: Martinez is a returning NCAA qualifier and has a record of 27-7 this season. He is currently ranked No.10 in the Coaches' Poll, and No. 12 in the RPI rankings. Martinez won the West Regional as a redshirt freshman last year.
  • 133 pounds - Senior Cory VomBaur: VomBaur is a three-time NCAA qualifier and a defending West Regional Champion. He is currently ranked No. 20 in the Coaches' Poll, and No. 14 in the RPI rankings. VomBaur is 5-0 this season at 133 pounds against WWC competition.
  • 141 pounds - Sophomore Chase Smith: Smith is a returning starter for the Cowboys. Last year Smith competed for the Cowboys at 149 pounds. While wrestling the 2008-09 season at 149 pounds he placed fourth at the West Regional Championships. Smith's record this season is 20-14.
  • 149 pounds - Junior Cole Dallaserra: This is Dallaserra's third year as a starter for the Wyoming Cowboys. Last year he placed third at the West Regional Championships at 141 pounds. Dallaserra is currently 18-10.
  • 157 pounds - Freshman Jimmy Belleville: Belleville came to the University of Wyoming from Tumwater, Wash., and jumped into the starting line-up in January. He is the only true freshman starting for the Cowboys this post-season. Belleville has an impressive record at 28-7.
  • 165 pounds - Sophomore Shane Onufer: Onufer is one of the four returning National qualifiers from last season. He is also a returning West Regional Champion after winning it his redshirt freshman year at 174 pounds. Onufer is currently ranked No. 9 on the Coaches' Poll and No. 4 on the RPI rankings. During his career he has never lost a dual match to a WWC opponent. His current record is 24-5.
  • 174 pounds - Sophomore Brock Smith: Smith is a native of Gering, Neb. He placed fifth at the prestigious Reno Tournament of Champions Tournament earlier this season. He is 20-10 and is currently No. 30 in the RPI rankings. He is undefeated this season in dual meet matches against West Regional competition.
  • 184 pounds - Sophomore Joe LeBlanc: LeBlanc is a returning All-American for the Cowboys. Last year he won the West Regional and went on to place fifth at the NCAA Division I National Tournament. He is currently ranked No. 6 in the coaches' poll and No. 7 in the RPI rankings. LeBlanc is undefeated in his career against WWC competition. He is 32-4 on the season.
  • 197 pounds - Sophomore Alfonso Hernandez: This is Hernandez's second year starting for the Wyoming Cowboys. Last year Hernandez placed third at the West Regional Championships. He is 19-15 on the season and is currently No. 33 on the RPI rankings.
  • HWT - Redshirt Freshman L.J. Helbig: After redshirting last season Helbig has found his spot in the UW line-up at heavyweight, despite wrestling much of the year at 197 pounds. Helbig is from Mason, Mich. and his record is 18-14.