UW Wrestling

Wyoming’s Luke Paine grapples with Oklahoma’s Andrew Dixon in their 197-pound match Feb. 4 at the UniWyo Sports Complex in Laramie.

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

LARAMIE — It’s long been a forgone conclusion that Bryce Meredith would be in Cleveland for next month’s NCAA Championships. The Wyoming senior wrestler is a two-time all-American who came one win short of a national title in New York two seasons ago.

But Meredith wants some company. He wants all 10 wrestlers in Wyoming’s lineup to be at the NCAA Championships, he said after Saturday’s 38-4 win over Northern Colorado. Considering the way Wyoming has been wrestling of late, he might be onto something.

The Cowboys’ other dual meet over the weekend also produced a 38-4 blowout win, Friday night over No. 25 Utah Valley. The Wolverines were missing two ranked wrestlers to injury, and Northern Colorado has a 2-9 dual record, but nonetheless, the Pokes were dominant. Wyoming won 18 of 20 individual matches this weekend.

“I think we have an opportunity to wrestle a little more aggressively, still,” head coach Mark Branch said. “You’re always looking for more, but dominating team score, and a lot of bonus points again. We’ve been getting consistent with it, which, it’s nice. It’s gratifying.

“Because you wonder if things just kind of fell in the right place on one certain night, but we’ve been making a habit of coming out and performing well. That’s good to see headed into this time of the year.”

Wyoming has now won five straight dual meets and 11 of its last 12. Not many have been nail-biters, either. Wyoming beat Fresno State by 34, scoring 40 team points for the first time since 2014. The Cowboys also took down North Dakota State by 26, CSU Bakersfield by 19, Army by 35 and Duke by 27. The one loss during that stretch came by two points at South Dakota State.

“I think these guys are feeding off each other,” Branch said. “And I’ve said this for the last several weeks: It’s a very, I think, tight-knit team. That can be a negative if maybe something happens and things go wrong. You’ve really got to manage that. But when things are going right, you don’t manage it. You let it go. You enjoy the moments and you have a much more relaxed atmosphere.

“That little halftime intermission, we’re back there, and it’s just a very laid-back, relaxed feeling. And I think that eases most guys. There’s been tense ones, and I go back to one of our early duals against Iowa State, the halftime wasn’t a pretty show. It was a different me out there, and that puts everybody on edge. So, they feed off each other, and I think they feel the confidence from each other.”

That win in Ames, Iowa, was one of two dual wins by Wyoming this season that has come by 10 or fewer points.

In both meets over the weekend, Wyoming turned likely wins into blowouts by winning at weight classes where they weren’t necessarily favored. Senior Chaz Polson is the latest to do that, ending Saturday’s dual with a win over Northern Colorado’s Dylan Gabel, an NCAA qualifier.

“We’re both from Colorado,” Polson said, “and I don’t think I’ve ever beaten him, even when we wrestled when we were like 6 years old. He was always a tough guy, and he is a tough guy. It means a lot that I was able to get it done. It was great.”

Luke Paine and Sam Eagan also upset NCAA qualifiers the night before.

Even the Cowboys’ losses over the weekend weren’t especially back-breaking. Sophomore Dewey Krueger lost to Utah Valley while wrestling above his weight, something he’s done frequently this season, and Wyoming’s only loss Saturday was by Ronnie Stevens, who was wrestling over highly ranked freshman Montorie Bridges because it was Senior Night.

“That doesn’t happen very often that you can get your whole senior class in there,” Branch said. “And things worked out well, especially early with Drake (Foster) getting that pin, really made us feel a lot better about giving Ronnie an opportunity. He hadn’t wrestled much, a couple open tournaments early.

“I know you always want to come out and win, and that would have been nice, but he got another chance to go out there and run out in front of our fans and show his appreciation for them and go out there and work hard against a really good guy.”

Wyoming hopes to keep the team momentum going Friday at Air Force as Branch seeks his 100th dual win at Wyoming.

Follow University of Wyoming athletics reporter Brandon Foster on Twitter @BFoster91

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College Sports Reporter

Brandon Foster reports on University of Wyoming athletics. He joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 after graduating from the University of Missouri and covering Mizzou athletics for two years. A St. Louis native, he lives in Laramie.

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