LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The toughest test of the season so far awaits the University of Wyoming wrestling team this week, as the Cowboys will take part in the 2015 Defense Soap & Flips Wrestling Southern Scuffle on Thursday and Friday.
The two-day open tournament begins New Year's Day and continues Friday in University of Tennessee-Chattanooga's McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tenn. Action begins at 7 a.m. MT Thursday and runs all day. It picks back up at 7 a.m. Friday with championship finals slated for 5 p.m.
A look at the Southern Scuffle
For the first time in the event's 12-year history, Wyoming will compete in the Southern Scuffle. The 31-team field attracts some of the best talent in the nation, including 13 squads ranked in the top 25. Two national champions and six finalists are among the individuals competing at the Scuffle. In total, 29 All-Americans and 93 nationally ranked wrestlers are scheduled to take the mat.
A look at Wyoming
The Pokes have some great momentum after a first-place showing in the Reno Tournament of Champions on Dec. 21, thanks to seven place-winners. UW won the Reno team title for just the second time in program history. Weight-class titles from seniors Tyler Cox (125 pounds) and Shane Woods (197) aided Wyoming's cause, along with second-place performances from seniors Dakota Friesth (165) and Andy McCulley at 174. Sophomore Benjamin Stroh was third at 184, sophomore Jake Elliott was fourth at 149 and junior heavyweight Tanner Harms finished fifth.
In the latest national polls, Cox is rated 10th. He is joined by Friesth (17th), McCulley (16th), Stroh (15th), Woods (13th) and Harms, who is 16th.
He said it
"This is the toughest tournament in the country and we wanted to be a part of it," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "Our philosophy this year is to go the distance to see the best competition, so that's why we have traveled to places like New York and Tennessee. We need to continue with our philosophy and just focus on wrestling our best, no matter who steps on the mat across from us.
"This tournament will be a good preview of the NCAA Championships so we need to seize the opportunity. Nothing comes easy in the sport of wrestling so accepting the challenge and believing in your program, your training and your ability is what this tournament is all about for our team."
The probable lineup (Overall record)
125 pounds: #10/10/10 Tyler Cox (12-1)
133: Drew Templeman (11-4)
141: Cole Mendenhall (9-5)
149: Jake Elliott (17-5)
157: Archie Colgan (16-5) | Brandon Richardson (2-2)
165: #NR/20/17 Dakota Friesth (9-6)
174: #NR/16/NR Andy McCulley (13-4)
184: #15/17/NR Benjamin Stroh (13-4)
197: Brandon Tribble (5-8) | #19/16/13 Shane Woods (15-1)
285: #16/NR/NR Tanner Harms (10-4)
*Rankings reflect the latest InterMat/FloWrestling/Amateur Wrestling News individual polls.