by Andy Chapman

December 22, 2013, RENO, Nev. (ISN) Two Cowboys won weight-class titles and three other University of Wyoming wrestling competitors placed in the Reno Tournament of Champions on Sunday.

The Pokes finished second out of 25 teams with 103 points to trail tournament champion Nebraska. It was the best team finish for UW since 2010 when the Cowboys won the event.

“Overall I was pleased. It has been a rough month for these guys,” Wyoming coach Mark Branch said. “I haven’t gotten to tell them ‘Good job’ for a while, so that was nice. We got in there and gave ourselves an opportunity to do some things and it was a good way to end the semester.

Junior Tyler Cox defended his 125-pound title and won the event for the second-consecutive year. A winner of seven-straight matches, Cox was dominant in the event with four bonus-point wins and a win over 13th-ranked Tim Lambert of Nebraska in the final.

Redshirt freshman Benjamin Stroh had a strong performance with a 6-0 mark en route to the 184-pound title. Seeded sixth, he knocked off the 20th-ranked wrestler in the final and tallied five bonus-point wins in the event.

UW’s other finalist, junior Andy McCulley, lost a narrow 9-5 decision in the 157-pound title tilt to the third-ranked wrestler in the nation. He was the runner-up for the second-straight season at the event.

In one of the most impressive performances of the day, junior Dakota Friesth rebounded from an early loss to win eight-straight matches and finished third at 165 pounds. Along the way, Friesth picked up his first win over a ranked wrestler when he knocked off No. 8 Jim Wilson of Stanford, 3-2. Thanks to four wins, junior Brandon Richardson was fifth at 149 pounds.

”Dakota had a breakthrough tournament and picked up some gritty wins,” Branch said. “Some of those weren’t the prettiest, but right now, the most important thing is that we found a way to win.

“Cox looked good and cleaned up some technical issues. Andy looked like he was back to his old self and challenged a really good kid in the finals. Stroh looked really dominant and controlled that title match from start to finish. We made some good things happen and took advantage of those opportunities.”

The Cowboys will have the next two weeks off from competition before traveling to Nebraska for a Jan. 3 dual showdown with the Huskers.

Tournament results

125 pounds: Tyler Cox (5-0, 2 major decisions, 2 falls) – First place

141: Cole Mendenhall (4-2, 2 major decisions, 2 falls)
149: Brandon Richardson (4-2, 1 fall) – Fifth place

157: Tanner Miller (1-2)
157: Andy McCulley (4-1, 1 major decision, 1 fall) – Second place

165: Dallas Bailey (1-2)
165: Dakota Friesth (8-1, 1 major decision) – Third place
174: Brent Havlik (0-2)

174: Jace Jensen (4-2, 1 technical fall)
184: Benjamin Stroh (6-0, 4 major decisions, 1 fall) – First place

197: Shane Woods (2-2)
285: Leland Pfeifer (2-2, 1 fall)