LARAMIE, Wyo. -
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After a long offseason that saw the University of Wyoming wrestling program join a new conference, the Cowboys hit the mat for their first regular-season practice on Saturday.
"Preseason at this point gets long and the guys are ready for a change," UW Head coach Mark Branch said. "We have so many new faces and we are ready to get them in the room and see what they have. We have a lot that needs to be learned in a short amount of time."
The NCAA allowed regular-season practices to begin Saturday morning for the nation's 77 wrestling programs. The Cowboys, who haven't seen action in collegiate match since March 20, will open practice in the newly remodeled Everett Lantz Wrestling Room at 8 a.m. with team and individual drills.
The Pokes open the season with the Northern Colorado Open on Nov. 1. UW will host the Cowboy Open on Nov. 7. The Pokes will practice 18 days before the season opener at Northern Colorado.
Wyoming returns two NCAA qualifiers in senior Tanner Harms and junior Benjamin Stroh. The Pokes also return four other starters from last season and 19 overall wrestlers. Wyoming added 16 newcomers to this season's roster.
A challenging conference schedule awaits the University of Wyoming wrestling program in the inaugural season in the Big 12 Conference. The Pokes will face every team in the conference with the exception of West Virginia.
The Cowboys are coming off an 11-4 campaign in 2014-15 that featured a seven-dual winning streak. The Cowboys finished second in the Western Wrestling Conference Championships and qualified six competitors for the NCAA Championships.
UW head coach Mark Branch enters his eighth season at the helm, boasting a 74-32 overall record and a 30-4 mark in conference action.