LARAMIE, Wyo. -
After competing in six duals this season, it's time to head back to the tournament circuit for the University of Wyoming wrestling team. The Cowboys take part in the Reno Tournament of Champions this weekend.
Action begins in the one-day Reno Tournament of Champions at 10 a.m. MT Sunday, with championship and consolation finals set for 7 p.m. It begins a long road slate for the Pokes, and is the first of four-straight away events before they compete again at home again on Jan. 30, 2015. The RTOC will be the second varsity tournament of the year for Wyoming after hosting the season-opening Cowboy Open.
A look at the Reno Tournament of Champions
The RTOC field includes competitors from Division I opponents Arizona State, Boise State, Cal Poly, CSU-Bakersfield, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Stanford and Utah Valley. Organizers of the event bill it as the "Toughest Tournament in the USA." A two-day high school tournament takes place Friday and Saturday in the same facility. The tournament format allows UW to feature more than one wrestler in the same weight class, so 15 Pokes will compete in the event.
A look at Wyoming
Ranked 21st in the nation, Wyoming has won four-straight dual contests to improve to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in Western Wrestling Conference action. UW toppled league foe Air Force by a score of 34-0 on Dec. 11 at home.
Five Cowboys are featured in the national rankings, including senior Tyler Cox, who is ninth at 125 pounds, senior Dakota Friesth (17th at 165), sophomore Benjamin Stroh (15th at 184), senior Shane Woods (12th at 197) and junior Tanner Harms, who is 16th at 285 pounds.
Last time/event history
In the 2013 edition of the RTOC, Wyoming finished second in the team standings with 103 points, trailing Nebraska by 56 points. The Pokes boasted five place-winners, including weight-class wins from Cox and Stroh. Senior Andy McCulley was second, Friesth was third and senior Brandon Richardson was fifth.
Cox, who has won the past two RTOC crowns at 125 pounds, hopes to make it three straight. Stroh comes back to defend his 2013 title at 184, as well. McCulley aims to improve upon second-place finishes for two-straight years at 157, while Friesth claimed bronze in Reno at 165 in 2013.
UW won the event in 2010 for the first time in program history and has finished second on two occasions in the last three years.
He said it
"I like how we've trained and competed this last month," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "I want to see our guys go out there and continue to wrestle hard in every position. It's always nice to finish the semester off on a high note and know these guys can enjoy a few days off (between academic semesters) and come back really motivated because of their performance. I hope they continue to show the improvement they have shown in the last few weeks."
The probable lineup (Overall record)
125 pounds: #9/10/11 Tyler Cox (7-1)
133: Drew Templeman (7-2)
141: Cole Mendenhall (7-3)
149: Jake Elliott (11-3)
157: Archie Colgan (11-3) | Brandon Richardson (0-0)
165: #NR/20/17 Dakota Friesth (5-5) | Kyle Pope (6-5)
174: Jace Jensen (6-3) | Andy McCulley (9-3)
184: #15/16/19 Benjamin Stroh (8-3)
197: Brandon Tribble (4-6) | #19/17/12 Shane Woods (10-1)
285: #16/NR/NR Tanner Harms (5-2) | Leland Pfeifer (2-5)