Despite Early Lead, No. 15 Cowboys Come Up Short Versus Oregon State
Jan. 13, 2013
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
An early dual lead wasn't enough for the University of Wyoming wrestling team to overcome 13th-ranked Oregon State on Sunday, and the Cowboys suffered their third defeat of the season, 21-12.
No. 15 UW held an early 6-3 to begin the dual versus the Beavers, but OSU (4-3 overall, 1-1 Pac-12) clawed back to win the next five matches to drop the Cowboys. The Beavers stopped the momentum of Wyoming, which had won four-straight contests and now sits at 6-3 overall.
"I was disappointed we didn't come out in front of our home crowd and put up a better effort," Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. "We didn't wrestle with our hearts enough. They are an excellent team. I knew we'd have to wrestle extremely well to upset them but we didn't even sniff it. It's a turning point for us, a defining moment. When you have it taken to you like that, it takes a strong mind to come back."
Wyoming got off to a good start, as fourth-ranked senior Alfonso Hernandez edged No. 9 Taylor Meeks in the 197-pound bout, 7-6. Hernandez won his fourth bout of the season against a ranked opponent.
Up next, Cowboy sophomore Leland Pfeifer battled fifth-ranked Chad Hanke at heavyweight, and suffered a narrow 8-4 loss. After that, sophomore Tyler Cox gave the Pokes a 6-3 lead when he outpointed OSU's Joey Palmer in the 125-pound match, winning 6-2.
But the Beavers stormed back to win the next five bouts to take a 21-6 lead to seal the win. Wyoming earned points in the final two bouts with a 14-9 decision from senior L.J. Helbig (174) and a gritty 5-4 decision from sophomore Shane Woods at 184 pounds.
"I was proud of Leland, even in a loss," Branch said. "He was inspiring. He wrestled with a lot of heart against a really good guy. That was one of the few matches where we wore them down. There's no excuse for that. We should be wearing them down in a majority of matches, but we stood around a lot.
"I was proud of L.J.'s effort. He made a really aggressive mistake at the end, which cost him a major decision, but I'll take that every day. I'm not going to yell at him for doing that. I need more aggression. I need guys taking more chances. We didn't do enough. Even in some of the matches we won, I was disappointed in our effort."
The Cowboys will try to rebound on the road for the next contest, a Western Wrestling Conference showdown with South Dakota State. Wyoming is 1-0 in league action, and will hit the mats with the Jackrabbits at 2 p.m. Sunday in Spearfish, S.D.