The Wyoming Cowboys wrestling team clashed with the Titans of Cal-State Fullerton and came away victorious on Senior Night, 28–13, at the UniWyo Sports Complex Friday night in Laramie.
The win was the fifth-straight for Wyoming and now has an overall dual record of 11–3, while Fullerton, of the PAC-10, falls to 2−8−1. The Cowboys won 2-of-3 duals against the PAC-10 this season, as they won at Stanford 25–9, lost at Oregon State 28–8, and beat Fullerton at home.
Seniors Cory VomBaur and Alex Rieder were honored before the dual with VomBaur winning his match and Rieder losing a tough one on Senior Night.
VomBaur dominated at 133-pounds against Aaron Navarrete, Jr. of CSF with an 11–3 decision, while Rieder gave Todd Noël, Jr. all he could handle in the 174-pound match, before falling 10–5.
Alex Rieder didnt have the match he wanted, but I was glad that he was able to finish up. Hes meant a lot to our program, UW head coach Mark Branch said. Even though he came up short, he had a great effort against one of their (Fullerton) better kids. I was proud of that.
VonBaur said it was nice to come out and win on Senior Night and that it was one of the more emotional matches in his career.
This dual, I was really looking at the fans a lot more before the dual started. I usually dont think about it at all, VomBaur said. I found myself thinking, this is it, this is my last home dual, this is the last time Im going to be wrestling in front of my home crowd.
However, things did not start out so well for the Cowboys, as No. 17-ranked Kurt Klimek got Fullerton on the board first, edging Lee (L.J.) Helbig in the heavyweight match 9–6. Klimek seemed to have the match under control leading 7–3 in the third period, before Helbig chipped away with three points to pull within one and the clock stopped with 5.4 seconds remaining, but Kilmek would add escape and riding time points to avoid the upset and give the Titans an early 3–0 lead.
No. 12 Michael Martinez would answer in the following match and put Wyoming ahead at the 125-pound bout against Andre Gonzalez of CSF, winning 10–2 to up his dual record to 26–7 on the year and the Pokes led 4–3.
VomBaurs win upped the Cowboys lead to 8–3, but Fullerton would answer back at 141-pounds with Adin Duenas, Jr., running over Kasey Garnhart of UW 9–1.
Chase Smith would fight hard for the Cowboys at 149-pounds, but couldnt break through against Nick Jordan, Jr. of CSF, and fell in a 3–0 shutout, and suddenly, Wyoming trailed 10–8.
The back and forth battle continued at 157-pounds, and the home crowd saw Jimmy Belleville of UW win a convincing 10–4 match against Steven De La Fuente, Jr. of CSF, to reclaim the lead 11–10.
No. 9 Shane Onufer provided some much needed breathing room for the Pokes at 165-pounds after winning a major decision by technical fall in the second period over Clayton Shuelke of CSF, which gave Wyoming a 17–10 lead. Onufer is now 23–5 this season.
Noël, Jr. win in the next match brought the Titans to within 17–13, but All-American and No. 9-ranked Joe LeBlanc answered the call for Wyoming at 184-pounds and won a major decision by technical fall in the second period over Mark Savelle, Jr. of CSF to increase its lead to 23–13.
The final match of the evening saw Cowboy Alfonso (Fonz) Hernandez easily win the 197-pound bout against Ethan Weisrock of CSF 18–3 for the final margin. Overall Branch was pleased with the team effort.
Shane Onufer picking up the pin and knowing that we had Fonz (Alfonso Hernandez) and Joe (LeBlanc) coming behind and knowing those guys were going to take care of business. Im proud that we were able to do what we wanted to do and send those seniors out right.
VomBaur is now 16–7 in his final season as a Poke, and his experience and relationships at UW are something that he will fondly remember.
These wrestlers are like my brothers, VomBaur said. Every day in the wrestling room, we pour out blood, sweat, and tears and you create very strong bonds that way. Ill miss that the most.
Wyoming will go for its first outright Western Wrestling Conference regular-season championship against the Falcons of Air Force on Thursday at 7 p.m., in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Its important for us, Branch said about winning a WWC championship. Thats a goal for us, to go undefeated in conference and win the regular-season championship and that should give us a lot of confidence to go up to Brookings (S.D.) and win the (WWC) tournament (championship) outright.
When I first started here, winning the conference, I wouldnt say it was inconceivable, but we were far from it, VomBaur said. The program, just to see how it has transformed and now we expect to win the conference, and thats going to happen year in and year out. Winning the conference, there wont be any celebration or anything because we expect to win the conference.