LARAMIE, Wyo. -
Winners of three-straight duals, the University of Wyoming wrestling team hopes to start off its conference season with another victory this week. The Cowboys welcome the Air Force Falcons for a Western Wrestling Conference matchup.
Matches begin at 7 p.m. MT Thursday in the UniWyo Sports Complex in the first WWC dual of the year for both squads.
Fans who attend the dual are encouraged to enter a holiday raffle to win various prizes, including Wyoming apparel, gift certificates and a new television. Drawings will occur after each match. The promotion is free to enter, and fans can sign up at the marketing table at the entrance to the UniWyo.
A look at Wyoming
Three-straight dual victories have pushed the Pokes back into the national rankings. Now 3-2 overall, No. 22 UW used dominant efforts to defeat Buffalo and Binghamton and upset No. 21 Old Dominion in the Journeymen/ASICS Northeast Duals on Nov. 29. Included in those contests were two shutout team victories and wins in 27 out of 30 individual matches. UW head coach Mark Branch now has 66 dual wins in seven seasons, good for fifth in team history in dual victories.
Five Pokes are featured in the national polls, including No. 9 Tyler Cox (125 pounds), No. 20 Dakota Friesth (165), No. 15 Benjamin Stroh (184), No. 14 Shane Woods (197) and No. 16 Tanner Harms at 285.
A look at Air Force
The Falcons have competed in a dual matchup just once this season, dropping a 28-15 contest to No. 2 Minnesota on Nov. 15. Two AF competitors are in the national rankings, with No. 8 Josh Martinez at 125 and No. 17 Jesse Stafford at 165. Both placed in the top eight of last weekend's Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, a high-profile tournament.
He said it
"It's nice to have a lot of training time for us to push our guys a bit harder," Branch said. "Every dual is important but we don't overemphasize anything. The goal is not to focus on our opponent. No disrespect to anyone, but we need to focus on what we're capable of doing and wrestling our match. We want to get the conference season started off on the right foot. After our most recent action, our guys feel like their ability is a little higher than it was at the beginning of the year. That's good. We want our kids to continue to believe in themselves."
Last meeting/series history
The Pokes earned a win over the Academy on Feb. 11, 2014, a 28-14 triumph in Colorado Springs, Colo. Wins from Stroh, Woods, Leland Pfeifer, Mendenhall, Andy McCulley and Friesth powered the road victory.
UW leads the overall series 38-12 in 50 meetings since 1958, and has won the last six meetings.
The probable matchups | Series history
125 pounds: #10/9/13 Tyler Cox vs. Drew Romero OR Cassidy Oshiro OR #8/8/8 Josh Martinez (AF) | Cox trails 2-3 vs. Martinez
133: Drew Templeman vs. Anthony McHugh (AF) | First meeting
141: Cole Mendenhall vs. David Walker OR Cody Hancock (AF) | First meeting
149: Jake Elliott vs. Gerald McGinty (AF) | Elliott leads 1-0
157: Archie Colgan vs. Samuel Kreimier OR Connor Hedash (AF) | First meeting
165: #NR/20/NR Dakota Friesth vs. #19/17/16 Jesse Stafford (AF) | Friesth trails 0-1
174: Andy McCulley vs. Scott Reilly (AF) | First meeting
184: #15/17/17 Benjamin Stroh vs. Konner Witt (AF) | First meeting
197: #19/17/14 Shane Woods vs. Jack Carda (AF) | Woods leads 1-0
285: #16/NR/NR Tanner Harms vs. Marcus Malecek (AF) | Harms leads 1-0
*Rankings reflect the latest InterMat//FloWrestling/Amateur Wrestling News individual polls.