Three Cowboys Still Going at Las Vegas Invite
Dec. 5, 2008
LAS VEGAS, Nev. -
The University of Wyoming wrestling team asserted themselves on the national scene Friday in Las Vegas and earned some quality wins in what is considered the top pre-season tournament in the country. The event features 10 of the top-25 teams in the country.
Nine wrestlers began the day representing UW at the 27th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational, which is being held December 5-6 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. At day's end, three Cowboys had put themselves in position to continue into the second day, including redshirt freshman Joe LeBlanc, who is in the semifinals at 184 pounds. Fellow second-year `Poke Shane Onufer has only lost once and is still wrestling in the consolation bracket at 174 pounds, as is junior Cory VomBaur at 133 pounds.
After the first day of competition Wyoming is in 19th place of 44 scored teams.
"This is a tough tournament and as a team I would like to have more than three guys still wrestling," said first-year Wyoming head coach Mark Branch. "Our youth showed through in some spots, however, individually we got some wins that we needed and that will help us down the road. Since we are not in a power conference and with the way the NCAA Tournament qualification system works now, you have to think long-term and have to have some quality wins. That's what it is about right now and I'm happy that we got some of those quality wins."
LeBlanc got the `Pokes started on the right foot when he beat the number three-seed and nationally ranked No. 7 Vince Jones of Nebraska, 9-7 in overtime in the first round. After an apparent 7-6 victory by LeBlanc in regulation time, the two wrestlers were called back to the mat to wrestle an overtime period when a scoring error revealed that the match should have ended in a 7-7 tie. Despite the difficult circumstance, LeBlanc prevailed and took down his favored opponent in overtime to win 9-7.
LeBlanc then reeled off a 4-2 decision over Jake Meredith of Arizona State, a 14-2 major decision over Jon Clark of Cal Davis and a quarterfinal win over the 11-seed Zac Thomusseit of Pitt, 6-5. He will face No. 5 ranked Kirk Smith of Boise State in Saturday's semifinal match-up, a rematch of the Cowboy Open final which Smith won.
After a tough second round, 6-3 loss to the five-seed Trevor Perry of Indiana, Onufer bounced back to record three stright wins in the back-draw and gave himself a good chance of placing on Saturday. Onufer's wins have come over Shannon Fettig of North Dakota State, Donnie Bowden of Northern State and Kaleb Young of Minnesota. He will face Travis Rutt from Wisconsin in his next match.
VomBaur beat Utah Valley's Flint Ray by a 7-3 score in the first round and then earned a gritty double-overtime, 5-4 victory over the eight-seed Matt Ortega of Indiana to advance to the quarterfinal round. There he lost to the top-seed from Illinois, Jimmy Kennedy. Vombaur will face Matt Vacanti of Nebraska in his next match.
Four Cowboys posted 2-2 records on Friday including senior Eric Coxbill at 165 pounds, redshirt freshmen Michael Martinez (125) and Chase Smith (149), as well as true freshman Jacob Scharbrough at heavyweight.
Smith provided one of the tournament highlights for the Cowboys in the first round when he pinned the No. 5 ranked wrestler in the country, David Jauregui of West Virginia, 27 seconds into the third period.
Coxbill lost an overtime heartbreaker in his opening round match, falling 3-1 in overtime to the event's three-seed and nationally ranked No. 6 Luke Manuel of Purdue. The Cowboy senior then won his next two matches by major decision before losing his third bout in the consolation bracket.
Matches will begin on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. MT.
125 pounds - Redshirt freshman Michael Martinez, 2-2