A gritty performance from the opening whistle produced six tournament titles in the Elite brackets for the University of Wyoming wrestling team Saturday in its season-opening event, the Cowboy Open.
The Cowboys went 56-21 at the Elite level of competition on the home mats in War Memorial Fieldhouse and placed 13 competitors in the top four of their respective weight classes. Boise State was the closest finisher with two weight-class champions.
"I think our overall numbers for the field were down a little bit (in comparison to recent years) but I think the quality was up because we had some bigger schools here like Arizona State, Air Force, Utah Valley and Boise State," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said. "Those schools brought the majority of their starters, so we got to see some good guys here in the tournament. It was a good test for us. I like the way my young kids competed. It's an exciting start to the season. It gives us an idea of our weaknesses but also shows what we could be capable of when we get to a higher level."
The highlight of the tournament for UW was the performance of redshirt freshman Benjamin Stroh, who went 3-0 to win the 184-pound title for Wyoming. In his first official collegiate match, he knocked off 11th-ranked Kevin Radford of Arizona State in a 5-3 decision. Stroh went on to defeat junior teammate Leland Pfeifer in the title match, 5-3.
The Pokes also had strong efforts from the likes of junior Tyler Cox (first at 125), redshirt freshman Cole Mendenhall (first at 141), junior Andy McCulley (first at 157), redshirt freshman Brent Havlik (first at 174) and junior Shane Woods, who won the 197-pound title. Junior Brandon Richardson, wrestling unattached at 149, finished third. Junior Dakota Friesth was third at 165, as was sophomore Tanner Harms, who was third at heavyweight. Two Cowboys finished fourth, sophomore Austin Breckenridge (149) and redshirt freshman Tanner Miller at 157.
Highlights of the Amateur division included freshman Zach Beard winning the title at 165, freshman Archie Colgan (second at 157), freshman Kyle Pope (second at 174) and freshman Finn Higgins, who was third at 197. All UW freshman wrestled as unattached competitors.
Wyoming now heads to the Northwest Open on Saturday in Powell, Wyo.
125 pounds: Tyler Cox (4-0), First place
133: Drew Templeman (2-2)
Sean O'Leary (0-2)
141: Cole Mendenhall (4-0), First place
Kyle Komata (3-2)
149: Brandon Richardson (4-1), Third place (wrestled unattached)
Austin Breckenridge (3-2), Fourth place
Jake Elliott (3-2)
157: Andy McCulley (4-0), First place
Tanner Miller (3-2), Fourth place
165: Dakota Friesth (4-1), Third place
Dallas Bailey (2-1), Second place
174: Brent Havlik (5-0), First place
Jace Jensen (3-2)
184: Benjamin Stroh (3-0), First place
Leland Pfeifer (2-1), Second place
197: Shane Woods (4-0), First place
Brandon Tribble (0-2)
Heavyweight: Tanner Harms (3-1), Third place