May 23, 2011
Cowboy head coach Mark Branch announced today that five prep student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to wrestle for the University of Wyoming. Branch's third recruiting class will begin its UW career during the 2011-12 academic year.
Joining the Cowboy wrestling squad next fall will be Alex Baca (Pueblo, Colo.), Austin Breckenridge (Cheyenne, Wyo.), VJ Giulio (American Falls, Idaho), Tanner Harms (Greenwood Village, Colo.) and Jace Jensen (Buffalo, Wyo.).
"We knew we weren't going to have a huge signing class like last year, so we were very specific in looking for kids who fit the mold we have created here at Wyoming," Branch said. "These young men showed a passion to compete for the Cowboys and have demonstrated they can be successful at the highest level, which are two things that caught our eye. We feel very good they will fit in well with a very solid team that we have returning and help us compete in the future with great success."
UW's 2011-12 class is highlighted by student-athletes that have excelled at the prep level with a total of nine individual state titles and an overall record of 665-92, while also earning several All-America accolades during competition at the Cadet and Junior levels. The class includes two natives of Wyoming and student-athletes from a total of three states.
Alex Baca - Pueblo, Colo. - 125 Pounds
The second Colorado native in Wyoming's 2011-12 class, Alex Baca finished his prep career with a 117-13 overall record under coach Efrain Tapia at Class 4A Pueblo Central High School. Baca was a four-time state qualifier and advanced to the title match twice. As a senior, he finished runner-up in the state tournament at 112 pounds with a 44-2 mark, before earning All-America honors this summer at the National High School Coaches Association's High School Nationals with a sixth-place finish in the senior bracket.
Wrestling at 119 pounds during his junior campaign, Baca compiled a 15-3 record until an injury at the state championships ended his season. He dominated the 103-pound division as a sophomore with a 29-0 record en route to a state title, as his effort's earned him a spot on the Denver Post's all-state first team. Baca went 28-7 as a freshman at 103 pounds. He also captured regional titles as a sophomore and senior.
A four-time letterwinner on the mat, Baca was voted team captain three times. He was a three-time honoree on the school's honor roll and was a member of National Honor Society.
Austin Breckenridge - Cheyenne, Wyo. - 149 Pounds
Austin Breckenridge won individual state titles the last three years of his prep career under coach Bryce Leonhardt at Class 4A Cheyenne Central High School. He compiled a 160-21 overall record with 116 pins to become the first three-time state champion from Central and ended his career as the school's all-time pins leader. As a senior, he went 31-3 to earn the title at 152 pounds, after posting a 49-2 mark for the 145-pound championship during his junior campaign. He won at 140 as a sophomore with a 44-4 record and went 36-12 at 125 as a freshman. A four-time regional champion, Breckenridge earned all-conference and all-state honors each year and was named Wyoming's Dave Schultz Award winner as a senior.
Breckenridge has also excelled in the U.S. wrestling system by winning four All-America honors. During the summer of 2009, he finished fourth in freestyle and fifth in Greco-Roman at the U.S. Cadet National Championships, while also earning All-America accolades with a third-place finish in the sophomore division at the National High School Coaches Association's High School Nationals. Last summer Breckenridge placed eighth in Greco-Roman at the U.S. Junior National Championships.
On the football field, Breckenridge was a running back and earned all-conference and all-state honors during his senior season. He was also named all-conference as a junior while helping his team finish 10-2 and runner-up in the state. He earned four letters in wrestling, three in football and one in soccer.
VJ Giulio - American Falls, Idaho - 184 Pounds
One of the top recruits in the state of Idaho, VJ Giulio joins the Cowboys after a dominant prep career for Class 3A American Falls High School. Giulio compiled a 163-17 overall record en route to becoming the eighth wrestler in Idaho history to win four individual state titles. During his senior campaign, he posted a 42-0 mark with 37 pins to earn his second-straight state championship at 189 pounds and finish ranked seventh in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News. Giulio won the title at 160 pounds as a sophomore and at 135 as a freshman. Voted a team captain twice, he helped the Beavers capture three team state titles, while wrestling under his father Jim. The elder Giulio, a former University of Montana wrestler from 1984-88, finished second three times at the Big Sky Championships and has coached American Falls to five team state titles.
On the football field, Giulio earned first-team all-conference honors as a running back this past season. The senior rushed for 1,232 yards and 15 touchdowns on 179 carries, while racking up 30 tackles and two sacks as a defensive end to claim second-team all-conference honors on the defensive side of the ball.
Giulio also qualified for the state track and field meet in the triple jump as a junior.
A four-time letterwinner in all three sports, Giulio has been named to the high honor roll in the classroom all four years. He was also recruited by Arizona State, Boise State and Oklahoma.
Tanner Harms - Greenwood Village, Colo. - Heavyweight
Projected to wrestle at heavyweight for the Cowboys, Tanner Harms progressed in leaps and bounds at the high school level and in the U.S. wrestling system during his prep career. Harms compiled a 120-12 overall record in three years under coach Mike Luhring at Class 5A Cherry Creek High School. Wrestling in the state's largest division, Harms went 38-4 with 17 pins as a senior at 215 pounds to finish sixth at the state tournament. He earned first-team All-Centennial League honors, while placing well at several prestigious tournaments throughout the season, including second at the Rocky Mountain Nationals. He was named the team's Most Outstanding Wrestler and earned the Most Takedowns Award with 81 during the season.
As a junior, Harms finished third at the state tournament at 189 pounds courtesy of a 40-5 mark with 20 pins. He won the regional tournament and earned first-team all-conference honors, while also placing fourth at the Rocky Mountain Nationals. As a sophomore, Harms went 42-3 at 171 pounds at the junior varsity level.
Harms has also wrestled well in the U.S. wrestling system at several levels and styles. This summer he placed third at 215 pounds at the Folkstyle Junior National Championships to earn All-America honors and a spot on the U.S. Junior National team. During the summer of 2010, he was the Colorado state champion at 189 pounds in the Junior Greco-Roman division and placed second in Junior Freestyle. At the Cadet level in the summer of 2009, he won the Greco-Roman division and finished runner-up in Freestyle.
A two-time team captain for his high school, Harms earned academic all-state honors twice in the classroom. He has a 3.2 cumulative grade-point average and scored 31 on the ACT.
Jace Jensen - Buffalo, Wyo. - 174 Pounds
A two-sport standout, Jace Jensen excelled on the wrestling mat and the football field for Class 3A Buffalo High School. He completed his prep wrestling career with a 105-29 overall record under coach Jay Camino, including a senior season in which he went an undefeated 31-0 to capture the state title at 171 pounds. He rolled through the bracket at the state tournament with two pins, a decision and a technical fall, after winning the east region. His state title was the first for Buffalo in five years. Jensen was also named the Outstanding Wrestler of the Shane Shatto Invitational during his senior campaign.
A four-time state qualifier, Jensen finished fourth as a junior at 160 pounds and second as a sophomore at the same weight after wrestling at 152 as a freshman. He notched at least 28 wins in each of his last three seasons on the mat.
A fullback and linebacker on the football field, Jensen helped lead the Bison to three runner-up finishes and four appearances at the state tournament in his four years with the program. As a senior, he was named to the Casper Star Tribune's Super 25 first-team after amassing over 1,000 all-purpose yards and 18 touchdowns on offense and intercepting five passes on defense, while also earning an invite to the Shrine Bowl. As a junior, he was named to the Super 25 second-team.
Jensen was the captain of the football and wrestling teams as a senior, and earned four letters in wrestling and three in football.