It would have been easy for Bryce Meredith to look ahead to Tuesday. Not only will the Wyoming senior be returning to his hometown of Cheyenne to wrestle in Storey Gym, but he will also be facing Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil, who denied Meredith a national championship two years ago.
But even with all that looming, Meredith took care of business over the weekend at the Reno Tournament of Champions. Meredith was one of three Wyoming first-place finishers at the meet, where Wyoming finished second.
“Obviously, his maturity showed (Sunday) in the fact that he’s got this really special moment to go have a rematch of his NCAA finals in his hometown and yet he focused on the task at hand and got the job done (Sunday),” Wyoming wrestling coach Mark Branch said. “So that just shows a lot of maturity, because you can think ahead, and it’s dangerous in this sport.”
Meredith had to take care of another familiar face before he could focus on Heil, who also beat Meredith last year in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Meredith’s last 141-pound opponent Sunday was former teammate Kevin Jack of North Carolina State, whom Meredith faced earlier this year at the All-Star Classic and three different times in the NCAA championships.
“Bryce had one of those special tournaments that when you looked at that weight class going into it, you’re like, ‘Man, this is a national tournament all in one day,’” Branch said of Reno. “And he stepped up and had some huge wins that are going to really help him out down the road.”
The Cowboys will get to host No. 3 Oklahoma State in Cheyenne as an outreach effort, serving as an opportunity for the program and giving Meredith, a Central graduate, a chance to wrestle in front of his hometown fans.
“We’ve done Cheyenne one other time and it was nice,” Branch said. “I think with the significance of Bryce competing in his last season it’s going to be even better. I expect it to be a really special environment for our kids to compete in and a chance for wrestling fans to see one of the best teams in the country.
“And so it’s good for wrestling, it’s good for wrestling in this area, and they’re such a great team you’d like to look for any advantage you can get. I think the better the crowd and the more energy we have in there, the more advantage we’ll have to compete hard against them.”
It will be Wyoming’s second Big 12 dual of the year, following a Dec. 9 win at Iowa State.
“Our schedule’s so hard, you don’t want to let tight duals get away from you, and that thing was really tight there through the halfway point,” Branch said of the win over the Cyclones. “So we had some guys step up and change the momentum.
“... When things were kind of going south, we had some of our veterans step up and change it and have some really good performances. So those are all positive signs. You want to at least know your team’s capable of it.”
Now, Meredith and his teammates can focus entirely on Oklahoma State.
“I know he’s going to have some jitters, and I know he’s excited,” Branch said, “but the reason he’s special, the reason he’s successful is because in pressure situations, that’s when he’s at his best.
“I have no doubt that he’s going to feel nervous, he’s going to feel anxious, he’s going to feel excitement. And it’s all going to help him go out there and wrestle his best match. There’s nothing to lose there. The pressure’s on Dean, and Bryce just needs to go have fun and go out there and enjoy this moment.”