March 15, 2006
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Six members of the University of Wyoming wrestling team are ready to compete at the 2006 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the Ford Center, in Oklahoma City, Okla. Competition begins Thursday morning and will continue through Saturday.
Originally, the Cowboys only earned five qualifiers to compete at this weekend's tournament, but recently received one more position due to a qualifier from the West Region withdrawing from the tournament which gave sophomore Bryan Bernal (174 pounds) a spot on UW's national team. Joining Bernal are senior Bryce Leonhardt (125 pounds), sophomore Carter Downing (149 pounds), sophomore Danny Clum (157 pounds), senior Malcolm Havens (197 pounds) and senior Dusty Hoffschneider (285 pounds).
"This is such a great accomplishment for these six men," said UW head coach Steven Suder. "However, I know that they are not satisfied with just being here and they want to make noise in the national spotlight."
Bryce Leonhardt, of Casper, Wyo., finished the season with a 14-8 record with two victories coming by major decision. He recently placed second at the West Regional which earned him a wild-card nomination to nationals. This will be Leonhardt's first trip to the NCAA Championships and he will open up his tournament against the #6 seed, Coleman Scott of Oklahoma State. Scott currently has a record of 24-5 and finished second at the Big 12 Championships.
Competing at 149 pounds for the Pokes will be Carter Downing from Woodruff, Utah. He leads the team with victories this season as he is currently 20-7 with eight wins by pin or technical fall, and six by major decision. The sophomore earned his first trip to nationals after winning the West Regional Championship. Downing will face Chirs Renninger of Drexel who posted a 18-12 record and finished second in the Colonial Athletic Conference.
Competing in his second consecutive NCAA Championships for the Cowboys will be Dan Clum. The Arvada, Colo. native finished the regular season tied with the best winning percentage on the team with a 12-2 record. He is another Cowboy who is coming off a West Regional Championship and looks to get his first win at the national meet. Clum will have his hands full in his opening match as he will face the #1 seeded Trent Paulson from Iowa State. Paulson finished the regular season with a 23-1 record and was the Big 12 Champion at 157 pounds.
After receiving his late invitation to the NCAA Championships, Bernal will look to make the most of his first trip to the tournament. A spring semester transfer from Loma, Colo., Bernal is currently 4-3 on the year, his last match a tough loss in the West Regional Championship bout. He will face James Yonushonis from Penn State who finished fifth in the Big Ten with a 20-6 record.
Malcolm Havens, of Parker, Colo., is in his best year as a Cowboy. He finished the season with a 19-11 record and is making his first ever appearance at the prestigious tournament after earning a West Regional Championship. Unlike any of the other UW wrestlers competing, Havens will face a guy that he has already wrestled this season in Casey Phelps of Boise State. Havens fell short in a close 4-1 decision back on January 4. Phelps finished up the regular season going 27-8 and placed third in the Pac-10.
Dusty Hoffschneider is competing in his third consecutive NCAA Championships this weekend after winning his second West Regional Championship in three years. The Littleton, Colo. native is currently tied with Clum with the best winning percentage on the team with the same 12-2 record. Hoffschneider will face the #1 seeded and Big Ten Champion Cole Konrad of Minnesota who went 33-0 this season. This will be a first round re-match from last year as Konrad, the 2005 runner-up defeated Hoffschneider in a 12-4 decision. Konrad has held the #1 ranking for most of the year after he beat the defending national champion Steve Mocco of Oklahoma State early in the season.
Competition is set to begin at 10 a.m. with the pigtail matches and then continue into the first round matches at 125 pounds.