From the desk of Harry Endicott
Wyoming Athletic Department
LARAMIE – The seniors on the 13th-ranked Wyoming wrestling team helped make their home finale memorable with a 32-9 victory over South Dakota State on Sunday afternoon. It was the final home dual for seniors Branson Ashworth, Brock George and Anthony Lombardo, each of whom took to the mat.
The Cowboys (15-4, 5-2 Big 12) won seven of 10 bouts in the dual, with three wins coming with bonus points. Ashworth recorded a first-period technical fall in his final home dual, while George defeated Gregory Coapstick.
“We really wanted to be in a position to wrestle our seniors,” head coach Mark Branch said. “That’s really gratifying for our staff to be able to send them off. Two of those guys aren’t in our regular lineup and so we tried our best to insert them. Even though (Lombardo) 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. You’re not always in that position, so you cherish those kinds of moments to be able to send those guys off.”
The dual started at 141 pounds, where sophomore Sam Turner got things started with a 16-1 tech fall over Jackrabbit Aric Williams. Turner racked up three takedowns and three nearfalls in the bout on the way to a dominant, 16-1 win in 5:43. The tech was his second of the weekend and second of the season thus far.
After South Dakota State earned a pair of decisions in the 149 and 157 pound matches, Ashworth took the mat at 165 for a match against Kelby Hawkins. The Cowboy senior didn’t even need the entirety of the first period to compile a takedown and four nearfalls for his 16-0 technical fall, as he gave the Pokes the dual lead back for good in 2:39. Ashworth has won 15 bouts in a row heading into the final dual of the season next weekend. With Sunday’s tech, he reached 10 for his senior season.
“It was awesome,” Ashworth said. “It was great to see the fans get on their feet for me. I wanted to send them out with a performance like that—either a pin or a tech. It was good to compete for them like that one last time. These fans have done a lot for me and supported me like the best fans in the country for the last four years. It was just awesome to get to go out there and compete like that for them one last time.”
Fresh off a top-12 win in the Cowboys’ dual at Utah Valley last Friday, redshirt freshman Hayden Hastings blanked Samuel Grove in the 174-pound match. Hastings scored a takedown in the first period, followed by a nearfall in the second to lead, 7-0, heading to the third. The Sheridan, Wyo., native put the finishing touches on his major in the final frame, taking on another takedown and clocking over four minutes of riding time for his 11-0 win—his third major decision of the season.
The team score stood at 20-9 after Lombardo took a tough loss to Zach Carlson at 184 pounds and the Jackrabbits forfeited the 197-pound match.
In the heavyweight bout, Brian Andrews earned his second bonus point win of the weekend with a first-period fall over Blake Wolters. The sophomore heavyweight scored a takedown in the opening minute of the match, followed by a nice ride in which Andrews was able to turn Wolters to his back for the pin. With the win, Andrews moves to 28-8 on the year with a 15-4 mark in duals and four falls.
Rounding back to the top of the lineup, George got the call to represent the Pokes at 125 pounds against Gregory Coapstick. George came out of the gate hot, scoring a takedown in the final minute of the first and earning back points with a four-point nearfall. The Cowboy senior nearly pinned Coapstick during the sequence, but was forced to settle for a 6-0 lead heading to the second. Coapstick made a push late in the bout, but George fought him off and stood tough to secure his 9-6 decision.
“It was pretty exciting,” George said. “I don’t get to do that very often. Honestly, I wish I could have finished it in the first period, and it wasn’t very pretty grinding it out like that. I just had the heart to do it and finish it for my team.”
In the final bout of the afternoon, Cowboy Montorie Bridges racked up five takedowns en route to a 12-5 win over South Dakota State’s Rylee Molitor. Now a winner of 12-straight matches, Bridges is 26-7 on the year with a 16-4 dual record.
The Cowboys will look to wrap up the dual schedule on a high note next Sunday as they head to Greeley, Colo., for a tussle with Big 12 rival Northern Colorado. The dual is set to start at 7 p.m. MT.