July 8, 2010
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
A nationally prominent matchup between two national caliber college wrestling programs will take place in Casper, Wyo., this December featuring last year's No. 25 ranked Wyoming Cowboys and the No. 15 Oregon State Beavers.
The dual will take place at Casper College in Erickson Thunderbird Gymnasium on Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.
Maintaining UW's ongoing efforts to showcase its programs to the entire State of Wyoming, the regular-season dual contest will replace a Cowboy Football scrimmage originally slated for late August. Due to the most recent NCAA interpretations regarding off-campus, preseason practices and missed class time by student-athletes for practice that came out in June, the football scrimmage had to be cancelled. UW will continue to work with the NCAA to identify an avenue so that a football scrimmage can be held in Casper in future years.
"One of our goals as an athletics department is to make sure as many UW fans as possible throughout the state are given the opportunity to watch student-athletes from their university perform in a variety of our sports offerings," UW Athletics Director Tom Burman said. "We believe providing this premium matchup between two of the nation's top programs is an excellent way to do just that.
"We have had much dialogue about what type of events we should bring to Central Wyoming. We felt that a regular-season dual highlighting our wrestling program would be an exciting new event for our fans.
"We will continue to have dialogue with the NCAA regarding bringing Cowboy Football to Casper, but current NCAA interpretations would not allow us to do that this year," Burman continued. "I want to publicly thank Oregon State for agreeing to come to Casper."
UW Wrestling concluded last season by winning its first-ever NCAA West Regional Team Championship, defending its regular-season dual title in the Western Wrestling Conference and earning a No. 25 national ranking in the National Wrestling Coaches Association/USA Today poll. Wyoming had an overall season record of 12-3, 6-0 in the WWC.
For the 2010-11 season, the `Pokes present an exciting lineup which features two-time All-American Joe LeBlanc, a junior at 184 pounds, as well as juniors Michael Martinez (125/133 pounds) and Shane Onufer (165), each two-time NCAA qualifiers. The Cowboys also bring back six additional starters for this upcoming year.
Mark Branch returns as head coach for his third year at the helm, and he will welcome 13 newcomers to the squad, as well as four team members who redshirted last season. Among that group of wrestlers, fresh to the Brown and Gold, are several names that are familiar to regional wrestling fans, including redshirt freshman Tyler Cox (Gillette), junior transfer McCade Ford (Northwest College/Powell), freshman Andy McCulley (Rock Springs) and freshman Leland Pfeifer (Hulett).
"This will be a good opportunity to bring UW wrestling to our fans who don't get to travel to Laramie for every home match, and expose this program to prospective fans in other parts of the state," Branch said. "We are happy to compete in Casper and I'd like to thank Oregon State for their willingness to accommodate this venue change."
The Cowboys traveled to Corvalis to wrestle the Beavers last season and were due a return trip in 2010-11. UW's entire upcoming season schedule will be released at a later date.
The Oregon State Beavers were the 2010 Pac-10 team champions and finished 2009-10 ranked No. 15 in the final NWCA/USA Today poll. They return sophomore Mike Mangrum at 141 pounds, who was the Pac-10 Newcomer/Freshman of the Year last season, senior Colby Covington, who was the 2010 Pac-10 Conference individual champion at 174 pounds, and head coach Jim Zalesky, who was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year for the 2009-10 season. Juniors Kelly Kubac (133) and Clayton Jack (Hwt.) are past NCAA Tournament qualifiers.