Pokes Upset No. 19 Bison On Road, 17-16
Feb. 21, 2014
FARGO, N.D. -
Five Cowboys won their bouts Friday night to push the University of Wyoming wrestling team to a narrow road win over 19th-ranked North Dakota State, 17-16.
Major decisions from juniors Andy McCulley and Shane Woods gave UW enough breathing room, as each squad won five bouts. But the two major decisions for Wyoming, compared to just one for NDSU, gave the Pokes the extra point they needed to hand the Bison their first conference loss this season. Junior Brandon Richardson lost in the night's final match, the 149-pound bout, but didn't give up bonus points, sealing the win for UW.
Wyoming (6-6 overall, 4-1 Western Wrestling Conference) finished the regular season on a five-dual win streak and now has a shot to win the regular-season dual title for the fourth time in six seasons. UW needs North Dakota State to knock off South Dakota State on Sunday, as SDSU beat Wyoming earlier this year.
"I told the guys it was probably the best of both worlds - we walked out with a win but we left a lot out there on the mat and feel like we're better than that," said Wyoming head coach Mark Branch, who won his 30th WWC dual. "We had some guys who wrestled for the team. Richardson gets caught in a funky position and he has to wrestle for the team and not give up bonus points in the last match. Even the guys who lost by decision, their effort and fight out there was just as important as everything else.
"It's a great win to finish the year. Beating a top-20 team and putting ourselves in a position to win the (WWC) dual title, that's a lot of momentum to take out of here."
Along with McCulley and Woods, Wyoming got a boost with wins from redshirt freshman Benjamin Stroh (184), junior Tyler Cox (125) and redshirt freshman Cole Mendenhall at 141. Cox and Mendenhall secured decisions over tough opposition, while Woods and Stroh each racked up victories over ranked wrestlers. Woods beat NDSU's Tyler Lehmann, rated 27th in the NCAA Coaches Poll, in a dominant 14-5 match, while Stroh got by 23rd-ranked Kurtis Julson in a 5-4 decision.
UW will now turn its attention to the postseason. That run begins March 8 in Orem, Utah, at the NCAA West Regional/WWC Championships, an event in which Wyoming hopes to win its fifth-straight title.