LARAMIE, Wyo. (Dec. 16, 2016) - - The University of Wyoming wrestling team will send 16 wrestlers to the 2016 Reno Tournament of Champions on Sunday in Reno, Nev. The 2016 RTOC will once again be held at the Reno Events Center and marks the 22nd time wrestlers throughout the United States will travel to compete in the annual tournament. For the second consecutive year, fans can follow the tournament on Flo Wrestling (www.flowrestling.org) through the Arena or Live Stream for Flo members. The action will begin at 9 a.m. MT on Sunday morning.
Two wrestlers will seek to defend titles in Reno as Bryce Meredith and Drew Templeman each brought home perfect records from the RTOC last year. They will be joined by Gunnar Woodburn, Ronnie Stevens, Ben Hornickle, Cole Mendenhall, Archie Colgan, Jake Elliott, Branson Ashworth, Kyle Pope, Chaz Polson, Luke Paine, Lucas Lovvorn, Nate Shaw, Brandon Tribble and Hunter Mullins.
Know the Enemy – RTOC
Just like the Cliff Keen Invite in Las Vegas, the Reno Tournament of Champions features a number of ranked teams in this year’s field. Wrestlers from No. 1 Oklahoma State and No. 3 Penn State will both be in attendance, as will No. 6 Missouri, No. 15 Stanford and No. 18 Arizona State. In total, wrestlers will be representing 26 different teams in Reno.
Wyoming in the Rankings
Wyoming checks in at No. 24 in this week’s InterMat rankings. UW is receiving votes for the third-consecutive week in the USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll and is tied 28th in the WIN Magazine team standings. Before the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite, Meredith was a staple in the individual rankings each week. With solid performances that helped four individuals place in Las Vegas, Wyoming now has five wrestlers ranked in their respective weight classes.
The Open Mat has three Pokes in the top-10 of its weight class. Leading the way is All-American Meredith who is eighth in the 141-pound weight class. Mendenhall is ninth in 149 with Ashworth tenth at 165. Colgan is the fourth Cowboy in the rankings, as he is 16th at the 157-pound weight class.
The same four Cowboys are in the InterMat individual rankings, as Mendenhall, Colgan and Ashworth all joined Meredith in the rankings this week. Meredith is seventh with Mendenhall (11th), Ashworth (12th) and Colgan (14th) all holding their own. The quartet along with Temleman are all in the TrackWrestling rankings. Meredith and Mendenhall are tenth in their respective weight classes, as Ashworth is 12th, Colgan is 22nd and Templeman is 25th.
Last Time in Reno
A year ago the Cowboys finished fourth in the team standings with 90.5 points. A trio of individuals won titles at the tournament to lead the Pokes. It was the most individual champions at the Reno Tournament of Champions for UW under Mark Branch. Tanner Harms (285), Meredith (141) and Templeman (125) all had perfect records en route to their titles.
Last Time Out
UW was in action two weeks ago at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, and four Cowboys placed in their respective weight classes: Meredith (141/second), Colgan (157/third), Ashworth (165/third) and Mendenhall (149/fourth).
As a team the Cowboys finished in eighth of the 35 teams. The Pokes finished the two-day invite ahead of a number of ranked teams, including No. 9 Michigan, No. 15 Stanford and No. 23 Oregon State.
Meredith fell just short of an individual title as he lost to Joey McKenna of Stanford in the finals by a 3-1 decision. McKenna is currently the second-ranked wrestler in the 141-pound weight class. Ashworth knocked off a number of ranked opponents on his way to a third place finish. He had three decisions during the second day with one major to complete his run. Colgan joined Ashworth going 4-0 on Dec. 3 in Las Vegas. He started the day with a bigtime upset decision over No. 5 Brian Murphy of Michigan and then finished the day with two more additional decisions. Mendenhall had two decisions in his first two bouts on day two before pinning No. 5 Solomon Chisko of Virginia Tech in the consolation semifinals.
He Said It
“To see three guys have breakthrough performances in Las Vegas was kind of overwhelming but at the same time I think it sparked our team," UW head coach Mark Branch said. "It was definitely a step in the right direction. Going forward we have to have consistency as well. We still have more work to do to build a more solid team and we will have ample opportunity to work on that in Reno.”
“We have seen the possibilities with Branson (Ashworth) and what it has done for him. There are guys on this team that are looking to break through as well. I think you can look at him as an inspiration. He took advantage of the Cliff Keen Invite. He has always been one of those guys that we knew we had to somehow get in the lineup. I talked with him at the beginning of the year in terms of making some adjustments and where he would fit in. It seems to be paying off for him now.”
“With the qualification process it’s important to get the matches in this time of the year. We are going to have a few more guys go to Reno for us. I hope they can take advantage of the opportunities that they will see. It’s a chance for us coaches to evaluate, and it’s also for a few guys that are hard workers, competitive and have earned this opportunity. We have guys that keep fighting and never get down against competition.”
“It’s exciting to be able to see Penn State since we don’t get to see an opponent like them very often. They have been the best team for a few years now. I am also looking forward to seeing other talented opponents out there.”
Wyoming will return to the mat to kick off the New Year at the American Duals on Jan. 6 in the nation’s capital.