Oct. 26, 2001
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Don't tell Wyoming head wrestling coach Steven Suder the 2001-2002season will be a rebuilding year for his team. Despite the loss of NCAAqualifiers Craig Rumsey and Steven Schenk to graduation, Suder feels theCowboys have reloaded and are ready for a solid year of competition thisseason.
Wyoming returns six starters from last year's 8-6 team, which give thePokes plenty of experience heading into this season. The Cowboys willalso rely on quality depth in the lower and middle weights which willmake for some real battles for starting spots.
"Over the last couple years we've added some good depth in some of theweight classes," said Suder. "Because of the quality of our depthnobody has a starting spot guanteed this year. There are going to besome younger guys who are battling hard for some of those spots whichisn't a bad position for us to be in."
Returning starters from last year on the Cowboys this season areseniors Mark Hamrick, Kelly McConville and Justin Christenson, juniorsBrad Steele and Thad Trujillo, and sophomores Kevin Kessner and LeviPrevost. They will be joined by a talented group of newcomers andredshirts who'll give Wyoming a solid, competitive team from top tobottom.
"It's time for some of these other guys to step up and take over wherethe Craig Rumsey's and Steven Schenk's left off. You always hope that'sgoing to happen but you just have to wait and see." Suder said.
Although the team will have an abundance of experienced lettermanSuder doesn't point out any individuals as leading the team in200.1-2002.
"I could name several guys that I consider leaders on the team forvarious reasons. Some of them are rah rah guys, some don't say anythingat all and some lead by example not only in the wrestling room but indifferent aspects of our training, leading by just the way they leadtheir lives." said Suder.
"We have a lot of different kinds of leaders on this team and theleadership manifests itself in different ways and I think that is verygood."
As always, the Cowboys will wrestle a very difficult schedule thisseason, taking on national powers Nebraska, Boise State, Northern Iowa,Oklahoma State and Fresno State in dual action. The Pokes will alsocompete at the highly competitive Las Vegas Invitational and VirginiaDuals as well as their own Cowboy Open.
"It's a schedule that we think these guys need. This is why they cometo a NCAA Division I school is to wrestle a schedule like this." saidSuder.
As far as expectations for the Cowboys this year, Suder isn't one forbold predictions. "I think we're on the right course," said Suder. "Ifeel good about this years team although I don't have any illusions ofgrander. I'm real excited about the upcoming season and I think it'sthe beginning of something that's going to get better and better."
The following is a weight-by-weight breakdown of the 2001-2002Cowboy wrestling squad:
125 - There are three solid athletes who are at 125 for the Pokes.Sophomore Steve Cordova looks to be the starter this season if he canstay healthy and bounce back from injuries that nagged him most of lastseason.
"Steve's a very talented guy that I really feel think if things goright for him prhysically, mentally he'll stay focused and have a greatyear. I think he could be in line to be an All-American a couple timesbefore his career is over." said Suder.
133 - There will be a real battle at 133 with three quality guys mixingit up for a starting postition. Returning starter Kelly McConville(16-14 last season) will receive tough competition from Thad Trujillo(12-10), who is dropping down from 141 this year and redshirt freshmanRich Cordova. McConville started every dual match last season at 133and will have the edge with his experience.
"I anticipate a real battle between all these guys here. Kelly andThad have more experience but Rich is just as talented. This is a greatweight class and I'm going to be looking forward to how it shapes out.It could change hands a few times throughout the year."
141 - Hamrick is the projected starter after dropping from 149, where hewent 22-10 last season as a starter. Transfer Blake Gunter fromNorthwest Community College gives Wyoming solid depth but will mostlikely be redshirted this season.
"Mark is a solid competitor who is entering his fourth year as astarter how will continue to excell because of his work ethic andtalent." Suder said.
149 - Sophomore Chad Plummer will get the nod at 149. He was in andout of the lineup last season and filled in at both 149 and 157 andreally competed well. Transfer Andrew Shuler from Virginia Tech willalso be looked upon in this weight class although he will beredshirted. Josh Hayek, who's coming off a redshirt season and JasonWaneka, who's been in the program for a few years will also mix thingsup at 149
"Chad's the type of guy that is just a hammer. He's a great guy tohave in the wrestling room and in the lineup because he'll giveeverything he has to give everytime he competes." said Suder.
157 - Wyoming's only returning NCAA qualifier, Levi Prevost, will onceagain be the starter for UW at 157. The sophomore who posted an overallrecord of 13-13 a year ago, was hot and cold last season and sufferedfrom a banged-up knee but should benefit from a whole year of experienceunder his belt. After Prevost there isn't a lot of depth. AndrewShuler could back up at this weight.
"Levi is a talented wrestler who needs a whole year of consistanttraining and competition to reach his full potential. He wasn't reallyable to do that last season because of a bad knee but he still managedto have a solid season." Suder said.
165 - Senior Justin Christenson (14-17), the starter a year ago at 165returns as does redshirt freshman Justin Salas. Should be a good battlebetween the two at this weight for the starting spot. Christenson getsthe edge because of his experience.
"This is going to be a war between these two. This is another weightclass that could change hands a couple of times during the season. Ifeel very comfortable with the depth we have at this area and amconfident in both the guys we have." said Suder.
174 - Redshirt freshman E.K. Waldhaus is a very strong and talentedathlete who will step into the starting position at 174. Not a lot ofdepth at 174 however Suder may bring either Christenson or Salas up aweight class to fill in behind Waldhaus.
"E.K. is an extremely talented guy who wrestles a different style atthis weight than did our starter last year, Steven Schenk." Suder said.
184 - Another young Cowboy, sophomore Kevin Kessner, will return as thestarter at 184 after compiling a record of 15-18 last year. Kessner isthe only true 184 pounder the Pokes have although Waldaus has thestrength to move up if needed.
"Kevin's worked extremely hard all Spring and Summert prepare himselffor this season. He has done everthing right from day one to preparehimself for a successful season." Suder said.
197 - There's a good chance the Cowboys will forfiet this class thefirst semester until true freshman Malcolm Havens becomes eligible.With the loss of Craig Rumsey Wyoming is very thin at 197. Kessnercould fill in until Havens joins the team in January.
"I usuall don't like to throw true freshman into the lineup butMalcolm will be ready to go and wants to do it." said Suder.
HWT - What Wyoming lacks in depth at the heavyweight class it makes upin experience with returning starter Brad Steele. Steele, a junior,finished with a record of 21-15 last season and will once again be atough competitor.
"Brad's doing everything right," said Suder. "It's just a matter ofwhat's going on in his head a lot of times and how much he believes hecan do it."