April 13, 2009
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The University of Wyoming Wrestling program has recently had two prominent rookies, one the head coach and one an All-American wrestler, receive recognition for their successful 2008-09 seasons. UW's first-year head coach Mark Branch and redshirt freshman Joe LeBlanc have been honored by the Western Wrestling Conference, as well as D1CollegeWrestling.net.
The Western Wrestling Conference (WWC) officially announced its award winners for the 2008-09 season in a press release last week. Branch was voted Coach of the Year and LeBlanc was named Freshman of the Year. The awards were decided on by the league's head coaches.
D1CollegeWrestling.net (D1CW) released its 2008-09 National and Conference Awards, as well as an All-Freshman Team on Sunday, April 12. Branch was named the West Region Coach of the Year, while LeBlanc was named West Region Freshman of the Year and was selected for the 184-pound slot on the 10-person, national All-Freshman Team. D1CW is a college wrestling web site that provides rankings, lineups, schedules, recruiting information and results.
Branch, who just completed his first season as the Cowboys' head coach, led Wyoming to a share of the WWC regular season title with a perfect 5-0 dual record in league matches. The Cowboys posted a 15-3 overall dual mark this season. Wyoming qualified four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships and earned the program's first-ever freshman All-America award when LeBlanc captured fifth-place honors. Branch also oversaw a squad that earned nine all-WWC honors in 2008-09, the most of any WWC member institution.
LeBlanc (Meeker, Colo.) became the first-ever freshman All-American in the history of Wyoming wrestling by placing fifth in the 184-pound weight class at the 2009 NCAA Championships. He was the first All-American in 13 years for UW's wrestling program and the 24th in school history. LeBlanc earned a spot into the NCAA Championships by winning the 184-pound West Regional title. LeBlanc posted a 45-8 overall record, which included a 15-2 mark in dual action and 7-0 against WWC opponents. He won three tournament titles in 2008-09 and scored a team-high 68 team points in duals. His 45 wins tied for third-place on UW's Single-Season Victories list with Wes Gasner, who had 45 wins during the 1983-84 season. LeBlanc had two double-digit winning streaks during the season (10 and 11). He tallied 14 major decisions, five technical falls and seven pins this past year. LeBlanc had seven wins over National Wrestling Coaches Association top-20 ranked opponents and seven of his eight losses came to opponents ranked in the top-10.