April 15, 2010
Laramie, Wyo. (April 14, 2010) -- University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman announced on Wednesday that the contract of head wrestling coach Mark Branch has been extended. Branch completed his second season at Wyoming in 2009-10, and had one year remaining on his original three-year contract. With his two-year extension, Branch is now under contract to UW until March 31, 2013.
"Mark (Branch) has done an excellent job of building an entire program, while at the same time exciting our fan base and building support around the state of Wyoming," said Burman. "And he has built our wrestling program into a successful one in a relatively short period of time."
This past season, the Cowboys captured the Western Wrestling Conference team championship outright with a perfect 6-0 WWC dual record and a 12-3 overall dual mark. The year before in 2009, UW tied Northern Iowa for the regular-season conference title. Those back-to-back conference championships marked the first conference team championships for the Cowboy Wrestling program since 1992.
Wyoming also won the NCAA West Regional Championship this past season, marking the first time in school history that UW had won that title. The Pokes also ended the regular season ranked No. 25 in the nation in the National Wrestling Coaches' Association/USA Today Coaches poll.
In each of his first two seasons at Wyoming, Branch had four individual wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships. Joe LeBlanc earned All-America honors as a sophomore by finishing fourth at this year's NCAA Championships at 184 pounds. As a freshman in 2009, he placed fifth at the NCAAs in the same weight class, becoming the first freshman in Wyoming wrestling history to earn All-America honors.
Following his first season at Wyoming in 2009, Branch was named Western Wrestling Conference Coach of the Year, the West Region Coach of the Year by D1CollegeWrestling.net and the Top Rookie Coach in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News.