All Four Cowboy Wrestlers Still Going After One Day at the NCAA Championships
March 19, 2009
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -
Competing in front of over 15,000 wrestling fans on Thursday at the Scottrade Center, all four University of Wyoming Cowboy wrestlers that made the trip won matches and remained in contention at the 2009 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Mo.
Wyoming redshirt freshman Joe LeBlanc, the No. 9 seed at 184 pounds, won two matches and advanced to the quarterfinals. Cowboys Michael Martinez at 125 pounds, Cory VomBaur (133) and Shane Onufer (174) all went 1-1 and remain alive in the tournament.
"It's important for our team that all four guys will still be wrestling on Friday," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "I thought they all wrestled well and I am pleased that they are all still alive in the tournament.
"We haven't looked our best yet, but this was a new experience for the three freshmen and they adapted well.
"Joe (LeBlanc) was a little tentative to start both of his matches, but he was able to overcome being down early and then dominated both opponents."
LeBlanc wrestled No. 12 ranked Jordan Blanton of Illinois to begin his first NCAA Tournament. He weathered two early takedowns by Blanton and then took control of the match. LeBlanc earned a takedown of his own and a nearfall to end the first period with a 6-4 lead. From there he added two additional takedowns and went on to win the match, 12-7.
In his second-round match against No. 8 seed David Craig (Lehigh), LeBlanc again fell behind early, but then rallied in a big way for a major decision victory. Craig got a takedown 25 seconds into the match to go up 2-0 and then it was all LeBlanc. The Wyoming redshirt freshman earned a takedown with one second remaining in the first period to take a 3-2 lead, followed by a second-period escape, two third-period nearfalls and one last takedown for the 11-3 final margin in his favor.
LeBlanc moves on to the quarterfinals with a season record of 42-6, where he will meet No. 1 seed Jake Herbert of Northwestern. Herbert is undefeated this season, a three-time All-American and was the NCAA champion at 184 pounds in 2007.
Martinez opened the tournament for Wyoming by upsetting No. 17-ranked Marcus Orozco of UC Davis by a score of 7-1. UW's light-weight was aggressive all match, got to Orozco's legs frequently and used a late, third-period takedown and nearfall to seal the match. The win by Martinez avenged a narrow loss to Orozco earlier this season.
The second round for Martinez brought returning 2008 All-American, No. 4 seed Brandon Precin from Northwestern. Precin jumped out to a 5-0 first period lead that Martinez could not overcome, with the match ending in a 6-1 loss for the Cowboy redshirt freshman.
Martinez is now 38-10 this year and will face Brandon Zoetewey of Cal State Bakersfield on Friday morning in the wrestlebacks.
VomBaur faced David Marble of Bucknell in his first match of the day and lost by major decision 10-0. Marble had upset No. 3 seed James Kennedy of Illinois in his previous match.
Searching for his first win in three years at the NCAA Championships, VomBaur next did battle with Frank Celorrio of Appalachian St. in the wrestlebacks. The UW junior would lead from start to finish, with two takedowns, an escape and a riding time point to get the 6-0 victory.
VomBaur now has a record of 28-13 this season and will match-up with No. 8 seed Joe Baker from Navy in the next round of consolation bouts on Friday.
Onufer had a difficult match-up in his first bout, facing the No. 4 seed Jay Borschel of Iowa on a mat directly in front of the Hawkeye seating section. Onufer lost to Borschel by major decision, 13-1.
Wyoming's season wins leader then reversed his fortunes in the wrestlebacks against Anthony Trongone of Virginia Tech. He used a first-period takedown, a second-period reversal and then a third-period takedown to win 7-2.
No. 17-ranked Onufer now has a season record of 43-10. He will face Scott Giffin from Penn in the consolation bracket on Friday.
There will be two sessions of matches on both Friday and Saturday as the tournament continues. Bouts begin on Friday with the quarterfinals at 9 a.m., MT.
The quarterfinals will air on ESPNU and ESPN360.com, and the semifinals at 5 p.m. on ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN360.com.
125 pounds - Michael Martinez, 1-1
133 pounds - Cory VomBaur, 1-1
174 pounds - Shane Onufer (No. 17 ranked), 1-1
184 pounds - No. 9 seed Joe LeBlanc (No. 8 ranked), 2-0