Nov. 12, 2009
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The quest for the 2010 postseason begins this weekend for the University of Wyoming Cowboy wrestling team, as they open their season by hosting two home events. Wyoming will dual the Northwest College Trappers on Friday, Nov. 13 and then host the 37th annual Cowboy Open tournament, presented by UniWyo Federal Credit Union, on Saturday, Nov. 14.
"It will be nice to start the season from the comforts of home," second-year UW head coach Mark Branch stated. "Since we will wrestle a lot of matches this weekend, it will be good not to have to deal with outside things such as travel issues.
"With the multiple events in Laramie this weekend, high school and UW, I am hopeful that fans from all over the state of Wyoming will get a chance to watch some of their home-grown talent on the wrestling mat.
"Our focus as a team will be to execute in areas that we have stressed in preseason. We need to wrestle with confidence, not be conservative and not be hesitant."
The Northwest College dual will begin at 5 p.m. in the UniWyo Sports Complex. Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for kids 18 and younger, while UW students are free with a valid ID. In a special promotion, a ticket for the Cowboy Basketball game against South Dakota State will gain the holder free admission to the wrestling dual, while an adult wrestling ticket will earn fans admission to basketball later Friday night.
It is the first time the two teams will have met in a dual match, however both squads were represented at NW College's tournament last Saturday and there were some head-to-head match-ups between the two teams. Wyoming was 3-2 in those matches, featuring mainly back-ups and freshmen who will redshirt.
Tentatively scheduled to wrestle in the dual for the Cowboys are all four returning NCAA qualifiers from last season: sophomore All-American Joe LeBlanc (184), sophomore Michael Martinez (125), senior Cory VomBaur (141) and sophomore Shane Onufer (165). Three Wyoming natives could also see mat time on Friday night: redshirt freshman Kasey Garnhart (Ten Sleep) at 133 pounds, redshirt freshman Colton Zier (Basin) at 149 and sophomore Mikah Kadera (Sheridan) at 157.
Seven starters, including three NJCAA All-Americans, return this season for Northwest College head wrestling coach Jim Zeigler. The Trappers will be trying for their 16th consecutive finish in the national top-10. Northwest College placed 10th at the national NJCAA tournament in 2009.
Last year's NJCAA national runner-up at heavyweight, Landon Harris, compiled an impressive 32-3 record on the mat in 2009-10. Joining Harris are returning All-Americans Saul Guerrero (133) and McCade Ford (141). Both placed in the top eight at last year's junior college nationals.
A long-time Wyoming tradition will then continue on Saturday, Nov. 14, when UW will hold the 37th annual Cowboy Open tournament, all day in War Memorial Fieldhouse. The event is sponsored by UniWyo Federal Credit Union.
Nearly 20 collegiate teams are expected to bring competitors and among NCAA DI schools bringing full squads are three Western Wrestling Conference rivals of the `Pokes: Air Force, Northern Colorado and Utah Valley. Event officials are anticipating nearly 400 individuals will compete.
Tournament tickets are good for the entire day and are $10 for adults, $5 for youth 18 and younger. UW students can watch the event free with a valid ID.
Cowboy Open results can be followed on TrackWrestling.com and matches are scheduled to begin on 10 mats at 9 a.m., running all day through the finals on Saturday evening.
Defending event champions for the Cowboys are Shane Onufer (Elite, 174 pounds) and Lee Helbig (Amateur, 184 pounds). UW also had three runner-up finishes and had five student-athletes place third at the tournament in 2008.