June 3, 2009
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The University of Wyoming Cowboy wrestling program continues to find its way into the headlines with a recent recruiting class ranking and additional postseason awards for last year's team.
Following a successful 2008-09 season, three Cowboy redshirt freshmen and UW's rookie head coach have been recognized by Amateur Wrestling News. Joe LeBlanc was named to the publication's All-Rookie First Team, while both Michael Martinez and Shane Onufer were All-Rookie Fourth Team honorees. Wyoming head man Mark Branch was selected as the Top Rookie Coach in the nation.
LeBlanc was the first-ever freshman All-American in the history of Wyoming wrestling after placing fifth in the 184-pound weight class at the 2009 NCAA Championships. Martinez (125 pounds) and Onufer (174) were both first-year NCAA Tournament qualifiers. All three won West Regional titles at their weights and all three finished the year in the top-10 on UW's Single-Season Victories list. LeBlanc is tied for third at 45-8, Onufer tied for fifth at 44-11, while Martinez is tied for ninth all-time at 38-11.
In his first year leading the `Pokes, Wyoming head coach Mark Branch guided his squad to a share of the regular season Western Wrestling Conference dual championship with a record of 15-3 overall, 5-0 in the WWC. His team also had a runner-up finish at the West Regional/WWC Tournament, four individual champions and automatic NCAA qualifiers, as well as nine of 10 wrestlers placing in the top-three of their weight class. Branch was the league's Coach of the Year.
Looking to the future, the Cowboy program has been tabbed as having the 13th best incoming recruiting class in the nation according to the most recent issue of W.I.N. Magazine. It is the second consecutive year that UW has been in the publication's top-15, as last year Wyoming's recruiting class was ranked 11th.
Jimmy Belleville of Tumwater, Wash., Tyler Cox from Gillette, Wyo., Jake Eitzen of Estes Park, Colo., and Patrick Martinez from Hemet, Calif. comprise UW's current incoming freshman class. Belleville, who is expected to wrestle in college at 149 or 157 pounds, and Cox (125) both are four-time high school state champions. Eitzen (133) and Martinez (165/174) each have high school state titles to their credit as well.
All four student-athletes are enrolled at Wyoming for the 2009 fall semester.