Aug. 31, 2011
LARAMIE, Wyo. - Fans of traditional powerhouses in collegiate wrestling will have the opportunity to see several teams in Laramie, as the Wyoming wrestling program announced its schedule for the 2011-12 season Wednesday.
The UW home slate will feature teams like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Cal Poly, and Western Wrestling Conference foes such as Utah Valley, Northern Iowa and Northern Colorado.
Wyoming also will hit the road for several prestigious events, like the Las Vegas Invite, the Reno Tournament of Champions and the National Duals in Stillwater, Okla.
"I think we found a good balance of competition. We weren't really looking to make any major changes," Wyoming wrestling head coach Mark Branch said.
The tournament season starts in Powell, Wyo., for the Northwest College Open on Nov. 5. UW then will host the Cowboy Open in the War Memorial Fieldhouse on Nov. 12, and head to the Kearney Open in Kearney, Neb., on Nov. 19. The Pokes then travel to Nevada for two tournaments, the Las Vegas Invite (Dec. 2-3), and head to the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 18.
The dual season
The dual season for the Cowboys begins when they travel to Nebraska on Dec. 10. The home opener for the Pokes will be Jan. 1, when they host Oklahoma State for the second time in four years. Two days later, Oklahoma will visit Laramie. Those duals are scheduled to take place in the Arena Auditorium.
"The fact that we can get tradition-rich programs like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to make the return trip is big. That's not easy to do," Branch said. "But the fact we're able to bring that type of level of wrestling to Laramie is outstanding for fans and our program."
The last time the Cowboys hosted Oklahoma State, the dual took place in the AA to allow access to more fans of Wyoming wrestling. With both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma coming off impressive performances at the NCAA Championships last year, interest for those duals should be robust.
"We definitely want to promote (those duals) and get the fans thinking about them early," Branch said. "Hopefully, we can break some attendance records in wrestling. With those types of teams coming in, I think it's a great opportunity for us to do some special things. From a fan's perspective, this schedule has never looked better. From our perspective, it's never been tougher but that's what we want. We want those kinds of challenges. It's definitely a good mix."
After the home openers, UW will travel to Corvallis, Ore., to battle Oregon State on Jan. 15. Then it's back home for the first of three straight home duals, starting with Cal Poly on Jan. 20. The conference season begins with Utah Valley on Jan. 21, and Northern Iowa on Jan. 29. It's off to the Air Force Academy for the next event, a dual on Feb. 2 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Cowboys then will host Northern Colorado on Feb. 8 before traveling to the National Duals on Feb. 12. The Pokes will wrap up conference dual competition on the road, when they take on South Dakota State (Feb. 16) and North Dakota State on Feb. 17, both on the road.
"We put ourselves in competitions that we want to be extremely challenging," Branch said. "We don't put ourselves in anything that we don't believe we can win. We have high aspirations and we put ourselves in an extremely tough schedule for a reason."I'll probably always say if we ever go undefeated and win everything on our schedule, I made some major mistakes as a coach. That doesn't mean we don't believe and expect to win every event that we enter."
The WWC Championships/NCAA West Regional will be March 3 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, hosted by Northern Iowa. The NCAA Championships are March 15-17 in St. Louis.