Wyoming Wrestling Takes On Nebraska In Important Dual

Dec. 1, 2010

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The first dual of the season will be a tough test for the Wyoming Cowboy wrestling team as it hosts the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday. It's just the first of several big dual matches this season for the 'Pokes. Here's a look at the matchup:

The details:
The matches will begin at 8 p.m. in the UniWyo Sports Complex in Laramie. The dual is sponsored by Ford. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children.

Last meeting:
The Cowboys got a solid win last season over the 'Huskers, taking a 29-10 dual victory in Lincoln. Wyoming trails in the all-time series with 14 wins and 28 losses.

"Now our guys believe, not only that we can beat Nebraska, but hopefully they feel like we should beat Nebraska," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "At the same time, Nebraska's probably not too happy about that. I'm sure they've been talking about revenge. They're definitely going to be prepared. I think we caught them off-guard last year. That match in Lincoln will get them motivated."

Teams in the spotlight:
Both Wyoming and Nebraska have been featured in several prominent national polls and have climbed up the ranks early in the season. As of Nov. 22, Wyoming was tied for 16th and Nebraska was ranked 22nd by InterMat. The 'Huskers were 21st and Wyoming was ranked 22nd by WIN Magazine.

The latest InterMat polls, released Tuesday, have the Cowboys in the 14th spot and the Huskers tied for 21st. Wyoming now is tied for 18th and Nebraska is in 22nd, according to the WIN Magazine poll.

Here come the ranked teams:
Nebraska is just the first of five currently ranked teams Wyoming will wrestle this season. The 'Pokes also will take on the likes of Oregon State, Cal Poly, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

"Here before semester break, we have opportunities to wrestle ranked teams," Branch said. "We have an opportunity to set ourselves up for the second semester as a team. Right now, it's just about going out and substantiating Wyoming wrestling, that we've built our team into a strong program and we can compete with big programs. It's definitely a big opportunity for us, and you don't want to let those pass you by. We're wrestling a tougher schedule than we ever have and we want to make sure we go out there and give it our best. You don't want to be sitting back and look at it as a missed opportunity."

The potential matchups:
Both Nebraska and Wyoming feature wrestlers ranked in the top 20 of their individual weight brackets. Some of the potential matchups could include a battle at the 165-pound level between Wyoming's Shane Onufer and Nebraska's Jordan Burroughs. They are ranked fifth and second, respectively, by InterMat.

Another match to keep a close eye on would be the 184-pound battle between Wyoming's Joe LeBlanc and Nebraska's Josh Inhen. LeBlanc is ranked No. 2 by several wrestling publications, and he'll take on the 10th-ranked Ihnen.The other ranked wrestlers in the dual include two Wyoming athletes, like Michael Martinez, who is ranked 16th among 133-pounders and Cole Dallaserra, who is 20th in the 149-pound standings. Nebraska's Tucker Lane is ranked eighth among heavyweights.

League recognition for Dallaserra:
Wyoming's Cole Dallaserra has been named the Western Wrestling Conference's Co-Wrestler of the Week twice this season. His performance in the Cowboy Open and Kaufman-Brand Open earned him the distinction. He now is 8-1 on the season with three pins.

The atmosphere:
There should be plenty of wrestling fans in attendance Saturday, if last year's big match is any indication. Wyoming battled Oklahoma State last season in Laramie, and the fans came out in droves. The dual was hosted in UW's Arena-Auditorium in front of a school-record number of fans for a dual match at 2,566.

The crowd on Saturday is yet to be determined, but should be robust.

"That can backfire on you, a big crowd and exciting event," Branch said. "We've talked about it a little more than we normally talk about duals. These kids are maybe going have too much anxiety leading up to it. The atmosphere that we may be presented with may be a little different than most atmospheres we're used to. How do the guys react? We have some young guys in our lineup. They have some young guys, too. We hope we're putting them in a big-time dual situation. Hopefully, it gives us an advantage because we're at home."