LARAMIE — Brock George doesn’t get the chance often.
So when Wyoming’s wrestler got the start one final time in front of a packed UniWyo Sports Complex, the 125-pounder did everything in his power to come out victorious — even when he was losing some of it. A fifth-year senior who’s gone from walk-on to manager to finally being a scholarship wrestler this season, George went ahead of South Dakota State’s Gregory Coapstick 7-0 early in the second period.
Coapstick charged back with six of the match’s next seven points. George, making just his third dual start of the season, escaped Coapstick’s takedown to make it 9-6 with 56 seconds left in the third and final period. Then George went into survival mode.
“I was just hanging on, really,” George said. “Just grinded it out.”
George clamped on to Coapstick’s leg and prevented him from getting the proper leverage for a pin. The nearly minute-long stalemate was enough for George to go out in front of the home fans with a 9-6 win, producing a feel-good moment as part of a dominating Senior Day for No. 13 Wyoming in a 32-9 win Sunday in its home dual finale.
“We saw him fading, and I just got really cracked up because that was all heart there at the end,” Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. “I don’t think he could see. I don’t think he could hear. I don’t think he could smell, taste or breathe, but he just held on to that leg. And thank goodness. Not only to be able to wrestle him but to get a win was awesome to see.”
George was one of three seniors recognized before the match along with graduate transfer Anthony Lombardo and Branson Ashworth, the only regular starter among the trio. But Branch said the plan heading into the match was to get each of them into the starting lineup — one that was easier to follow with the Cowboys (15-4, 5-2 Big 12) winning three of the first five matches.
For Lombardo, a 174-pounder, that meant moving up a weight class to take on 184-pounder Zach Carlson. Lombardo notched two points with a pair of escapes but fell to Carlson 6-2. It was one of just three individual losses for the Cowboys.
“Even though Tony had to give up a lot of weight there, it was still nice to give him that opportunity to wrestle in front of the home crowd. I’m pleased with that,” Branch said. “You’re not always in that position, so you definitely cherish those kinds of moments to send those guys off.”
The loudest roar inside the building came for Ashworth, who dominated Kelby Hawkins in the 165-pound match. Ranking 10th on the program’s all-time wins list (115), the eighth-ranked Ashworth got a takedown and four straight near-falls in the first period to quickly wrap up a 16-0 technical fall, drawing a standing ovation from most of the 778 in attendance once it was over.
“It got real loud, and everyone was on their feet,” said Ashworth, who improved to 19-0 in dual matches this season with his 15th straight win. “You can’t really describe a feeling like that.
“I wanted to send (the fans) out with a performance like that. It was good to compete like that in front of them one last time. They’ve done a lot for me. They’ve supported me like the best fans in the country the last three or four years.”
Sophomore Sam Turner, ranked No. 12 at 141 pounds, got the match started with a 16-1 technical fall against Aric Williams. Sheridan native Hayden Hastings (174 pounds), Cale Davidson (197), Brian Andrews (heavyweight) and Montorie Bridges (133) also got wins, with Davidson’s coming by forfeit.
Jaron Jensen (149) and Jed Loveless (157) dropped their matches, but No. 10 Bridges put the final touches on the Cowboys’ 11th win in their last 12 dual meets with a 12-5 win over Rylee Molitor. Wyoming has one dual left at Northern Colorado next Sunday before the start of the Big 12 Championships next month.
“A little sloppiness, but we really wanted to be in a position to be able to wrestle our seniors,” Branch said. “That’s always gratifying I think for our staff to be able to send them off.”