Not often two top 10 teams in any sport come to the University of Wyoming, but Sunday and Tuesday the Cowboys’ wrestling team faces two of the nation’s elite programs. Sunday is No. 2 Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. and Tuesday is No. 9 Oklahoma at 7 p.m.
Both are at the Arena-Auditorium.
UW is ranked anywhere from 12th to 20th depending on which of the three national wrestling polls you look at.
The Oklahoma State dual has the most intrigue since UW coach Mark Branch wrestled and coached there. He won two individual national championships at OSU, and was part of winning teams as a wrestler and coach.
But Branch made it clear that this isn’t about him, it’s about the opportunity his team has to compete — and hopefully beat — two of the best teams in the country at home.
For UW to pull off the upset Sunday and Tuesday, it needs big-time performances from its to best wrestlers — senior Shane Onufer at 165 pounds and senior Joe LeBlanc at 184 pounds.
Redshirt junior Alfonso Hernandez (197), senior Michael Martinez (125) and redshirt freshman Dakota Freisth (157) also are key wreslters UW needs big efforts from in both duals.
“We’ve got to have a team effort from top to bottom,” Branch said. “We need to win what we can win, and fight hard in matches we don’t win. We have to avoid pins and bonus points.”
UW wrestling has been on a steady rise since Branch was hired as the coach in July of 2008. It can leap to a new national level with a win over won or both of these teams over the next few days.
For more on this story, see Sunday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang.