Wyoming Set To Host 39th Annual Cowboy Open

Nov. 9, 2011


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The Wyoming wrestling program will have its first home event of the 2011-12 season Saturday, as UW will host the 39th annual Cowboy Open, presented by UniWyo Federal Credit Union.

The Cowboy Open traditionally serves as the first home competition for Wyoming wrestling. The event begins at 9 a.m. in the War Memorial Fieldhouse and will take place all day. Event organizers will run 10 mats to accommodate the hundreds of wrestlers expected to make up the field.

Historically, nearly 20 collegiate teams have brought competitors to the Cowboy Open, including three Western Wrestling Conference rivals of the Pokes: Air Force, Northern Colorado and Utah Valley. In past years, nearly 400 individuals have competed.

Tournament tickets are good for the entire day and are $12 for adults and $6 for youth 18 and younger. UW students can watch the event free with a valid ID.Several Wyoming wrestlers saw action last weekend at the Northwest Open in Powell, Wyo. A majority of the wrestlers were forced to move up one weight class due to a certification mix-up, but most will be down to their normal position this week.

"They were challenged last week," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "I'm assuming they'll feel a little bit more confident (this weekend), not giving up a whole lot of weight. We're having a good week. It's early but we're working on a lot of mistakes we made. I expect a much cleaner performance this weekend and we need to because we have a lot of stiff competition.

"We have some guys who have begun to establish themselves as starters. There's a difference when you have to go out there and compete and perform under pressure. There are guys waiting in the wings that want their chance. We're in a position now, that if someone's struggling, we have the option of throwing someone else in there and letting that natural competition fuel performance. We're going to see good results because of that."

Last year, redshirt freshman Zach Zehner won the Outstanding Wrestler award in the Amateur division at 133 pounds. Now departed senior Cole Dallaserra won the Elite 149-pound title, redshirt freshman Mike Hamel was the Amateur 141-pound champion, senior Shane Onufer topped the 165-pound level in the Elite division, redshirt freshman Brandon Richardson won at the Amateur 149-pound level and Zehner was the Amateur champ at 133 pounds.

Prior to the Cowboy Open, the Pokes will compete in the intrasquad Brown vs. Gold dual at 5:30 p.m. Friday night in the UniWyo Sports Complex. The Cowboy versus Cowboy matchups will be used by the Wyoming coaching staff to see who will start the season atop the depth chart at each respective weight class, as well as an indicator for how well some of the newer team members perform in live competition.

Due to numerous events being hosted at UW Athletics' facilities this weekend, wrestling fans for both the intrasquad event and the tournament are encouraged to park in specific locations. Fans can find ample parking along 19th Street, which is northwest of the UniWyo Sports Complex and War Memorial Fieldhouse, as well as in the HC lot, which is along Grand Avenue, to the southwest of the event locations and between the Corbett and Crane buildings. There will also be space in the X lot, which is immediately south of the Animal Sciences building, off of 19th Street.

"I'm expecting to be very competitive," Branch said. "It's a long season and we're early in it. ... (Last week) we saw a lot of mental errors and I want to see those things cleaned up really quick. We have enough experience and I think these kids are competitive enough that we should go out there and challenge for tournament titles."

Order of Friday night match-ups (L to R - Brown vs. Gold):
125 pounds - Michael Martinez vs. Alex Baca
133 pounds - Jake Eitzen vs. Zach Zehner
141 pounds - Mike Hamel vs. McCade Ford
149 pounds - Chase Smith vs. Brandon Richardson
157 pounds - Andy McCulley vs. Dakota Friesth
165 pounds - Shane Onufer vs. Jace Jensen
174 pounds - Dallas Hintz vs. Pat Martinez
184 pounds - Joe LeBlanc vs. Tommy Thoman
197 pounds - L.J. Helbig vs. Alfonso Hernandez
285 pounds - Tanner Harms vs. Leland Pfeifer