LARAMIE, Wyo. (Nov. 2, 2017) – The University of Wyoming wrestling team will begin the much anticipated 2017-18 season this weekend with the 40th Annual Cowboy Open. The tournament will begin on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. MT inside the War Memorial Fieldhouse.
In addition to the Cowboy Open, senior Bryce Meredith will take on Kevin Jack of North Carolina State in the 52nd National Wrestling Coaches’ Association (NWCA) All-Star Classic. The annual preseason showcase is set to take place on Sunday at Jadwin Gym on the campus of Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. The event will be streamed live on trackwrestling.com and more information can be found here.
About the Cowboy Open
The tournament has been an essential part of the Cowboy Wrestling program. The first-ever Cowboy Open took place in 1974 under head coach Joe Dowler. With the exception of four seasons, the Pokes have hosted the event every year since 1974. This year marks the 28th-straight season that UW has hosted the tournament.
A Look at Wyoming
Wyoming returns three NCAA qualifiers in seniors Archie Colgan and Meredith, as well as junior Branson Ashworth. The Pokes also have 20 other returners, in addition to an 11-member group of newcomers.
After the Cowboy Open, the Cowboys will head for the University of Nebraska on Nov. 17 for its first dual of the season. UW will continue on the road for the UNK Holiday Inn Open (Nov. 18), Cliff Keen Invitational (Dec. 1-2), a dual with Iowa State (Dec. 9) and the Reno Tournament of Champions (Dec. 17) before hosting Oklahoma State in Cheyenne on Dec. 19. The Pokes first dual inside the UniWyo Sports Complex is set to take place on Jan. 12 against CSU Bakersfield. Additionally, Wyoming’s dual against Fresno State on Jan. 27 will take place in the Arena-Auditorium.
UW head coach Mark Branch enters his ninth season at the helm of the program. He boasts an 87-46 overall record and a 42-12 mark in conference action.
Thoughts from the One and Only Mark Branch
“I feel much better than last year at this point,” Cowboy head coach Mark Branch said. “It’s not a knock anyone, it’s just shown through the guys we have on this roster. We have guys that will be wrestling at their actual weight this season and a good mixture of experience and young talent.”
“Practices have been fun to watch,” Branch added. “This group is definitely showing me they want to get better. It has only been a couple of weeks, but for the most part guys are pushing each other.”
“Our lineup may be different week by week as a lot of it will depend on health,” mentioned Branch. “We’ll no doubt have guys that will get better as the season progresses, especially with the competition and the number of matches we have scheduled. We expect the guys that we know can do well, to go out and do just that. It starts on Saturday. We’re looking forward to seeing what this group can do.”
2016 Cowboy Open
Wyoming earned five individual championships in two divisions at the 39th annual Cowboy Open a season ago. It was the second-consecutive year that Wyoming had at least five individual titles.
2016 In Review
Led by Meredith’s fourth-place finish, Wyoming tied for 21st at last year’s NCAA Championships with 20 total team points. Meredith, who became the seventh Poke to earn All-American honors twice in a career and first since Alfonso Hernandez (2012-13), went 4-2 during the three-day tournament in St. Louis. Ashworth came away with a 1-2 mark, while Colgan shined during the second day of the championships, advancing to the blood round and falling just short of All-American status.
The Cowboys will travel to Nebraska for its first dual of the season on Nov. 17.