LARAMIE, Wyo. -
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Six University of Wyoming wrestlers begin their quest for a National Championship this week at the NCAA Championship in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
Wrestling begins Thursday and runs through the finals on Saturday evening in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo. Every session, including every match, will be available on ESPN3.com. The semifinals and finals will be available on ESPN.
Thursday: Session I, 10 a.m. MT on ESPNU/ESPN3.com; session II, 5 p.m. MT on ESPNU/ESPN3.com
Friday: Session III, 9 a.m. MT, ESPNU/ESPN3.com; session IV, 6 p.m. MT, ESPN/ESPN3.com
Saturday: Session V, 9 a.m. MT, ESPNU/ESPN3.com; session VI, 6 p.m. MT, ESPN/ESPN3.com
The Pokes return five wrestlers to the NCAAs who have experience in the national spotlight. Seniors Tyler Cox and Shane Woods will be making their third appearance at the championship. Fellow seniors Andy McCulley and Dakota Friesth will be making their second trip alongside sophomore Benjamin Stroh. Junior Tanner Harms will be making his first trip to the NCAAs.
At the national tournament
Wyoming head coach Mark Branch has had a great run at the national championships in each his previous six seasons. UW has accumulated eight All-America honors since 2009, including two in each of the last four years. Branch has guided UW to two top-25 during his time at Wyoming.
Here's a breakdown of each UW wrestler who received a bid for the championships.
Senior Tyler Cox faces a tough task at the NCAA Championship. He finished second at the West Regional to earn his third-straight trip to the Championship. The eighth seeded Cox opens the championship against defending champion Jesse Delgado (9-3) of Illinois. Cox is one of five wrestlers from the Western Wrestling Conference in the field. Cox is 5-5 against wrestlers in the season's championship.
Senior Dakota Friesth earned a spot in wrestle backs to make his second-straight NCAA Championship. He takes on Taylor Walsh (34-5) of Indiana in the first round. He is 4-6 against the field in this season's championship. He went 1-2 last season at the NCAA Championship.
Senior Andy McCulley earned his second at-large bid to the NCAA Championship and his first appearance since the 2012-13 season at 157 pounds. He is seeded No. 14 and faces off against North Carolina's John Staudenmayer (23-13). He is 6-6 against wrestlers in the field and 0-2 all-time at the NCAA Championship.
Sophomore Benjamin Stroh is making his second trip to the championship. He qualified by finishing second at the NCAA West Regional. He faces Jack McKeever (27-16) of Binghampton in the first round. Stroh is 6-5 against the field and is 1-2 at the NCAA Championship.
Senior Shane Woods punched his ticket to the championship by winning his third-straight NCAA West Regional. Woods is the No. 13 seed and faces Jared Haught (18-17) of Virginia Tech in the first round. Woods is 3-3 against the field and is 1-4 all-time at the championship.
Junior Tanner Harms is making his first appearance at the NCAA Championship. He earned his spot by winning a true-second place match at the NCAA West Regional. He will face Michael McMullan (26-2) of Northwestern in the first round.
The NCAA will decide the order of the finals matches at the conclusion of Session V on Saturday morning.
Early-round stumbles provided a tough finish to a fine season for the University of Wyoming wrestling program at the NCAA Championships. Four Pokes clawed back from a 1-3 start in Round One to post three wins and just one loss in Session II. But it all came to an end for the quartet on the morning of Day Two and Wyoming left with a 5-8 overall mark between four competitors. UW finished 53rd of 66 programs with three team points.
Host institution Missouri is one of the favorites to win the team title. Win Magazine picked the Tigers to win the championship in their home state. Another favorite is Iowa, InterMat picked the Hawkeyes as their favorite to win the team title.