Wyoming Wrestlers Eye Fifth-Straight League Title

March 5, 2014


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The postseason begins this weekend for the University of Wyoming wrestling program, as the Pokes face the field at the NCAA West Regional/Western Wrestling Conference Championships on Saturday in Orem, Utah.

The details
Action begins at noon MT Saturday with the first round of bouts, with finals slated for 6 p.m. All matches will be streamed by UVU TV, accessible by clicking the link above. Mat 1 will be shown on the `UVU TV' main portal, while Mat 2 can be accessed by switching to the `UVU Athletics' tab.

Drive for five
UW is looking for its fifth-consecutive WWC tournament title, the longest streak in league history and second longest in school history. This run trails only an eight-year span, from 1955-62, in which the Pokes won the Mountain States/Skyline Conference title each year. Wyoming has won 23 league tournament titles in history.

Junior Shane Woods is the lone returning conference champion for UW. He was the 184-pound champion in 2013 and could be the league's top seed at 197. Four other returning Cowboys finished third in last year's event, including juniors Tyler Cox (125), Brandon Richardson (149), Andy McCulley (157) and Dakota Friesth at 165. Five UW competitors have never participated in the postseason: redshirt freshmen Gunnar Woodburn (133), Cole Mendenhall (141), Brent Havlik (174), Benjamin Stroh (184) and sophomore Tanner Harms at heavyweight.

Probable lineup | League pre-seed rankings
125 pounds: #8/9/8 Tyler Cox, Jr. (25-6) | No. 2
133: NR Gunnar Woodburn, RFr. (9-12) | No. 5
141: NR Cole Mendenhall, RFr. (20-9) | No. 1
149: NR Brandon Richardson, Jr. (16-13) | No. 3
157: #NR/NR/24 Andy McCulley, Jr. (19-9) | No. 2
165: #NR/NR/18 Dakota Friesth, Jr. (27-7) | No. 2
174: NR Brent Havlik, RFr. (16-13) | No. 5
184: #17/15/17 Benjamin Stroh, RFr. (25-6) | No. 1
197: #NR/NR/24 Shane Woods, Jr. (20-7) | No. 1
285: NR Tanner Harms, So. (10-4) | No. 6

Rankings based on most recent InterMat/TOM/D1CollegeWrestling.net polls.

Last time
A come-from-behind victory was the reward of a gritty effort by the Pokes in last season's West Regional. Trailing after the first session by 11 points, UW placed all 10 of its wrestlers in either the championship or consolation final to score 79 points. The Pokes got some assistance from Utah Valley's heavyweight to keep North Dakota State out of the team lead in the last scoring bout to outpace the Bison by three points. Four Cowboys were tournament champions, including Woods, Alfonso Hernandez, McCade Ford and L.J. Helbig.

Automatic bids
Fifteen spots at 10 weights at the NCAA Championships are at stake Saturday in the West Regional. The breakdown of the automatic allocation is as follows.
125 pounds - 2
133 - 1
141 - 1
149 - 1
157 - 2
165 - 3
174 - 1
184 - 2
197 - 1
285 - 1

After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 12. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; qualifying event placement; quality wins; results against common opponents; winning percentage; RPI; coaches ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class.