Cowboy Wrestlers Headed Back to Nevada for Reno Tournament of Champions
From the desk of Kevin DeVries -- Wyoming Athletic Department
LARAMIE – For the second consecutive weekend, the Wyoming wrestling team will be traveling to the desert state of Nevada as the Cowboys make a trip to the Reno Tournament of Champions, Sunday. Twenty-three teams will be sending competitors to the event.
The action begins at 10 a.m., with the medal matches beginning at approximately 5:30 p.m.
“We’ve always competed out at Reno and I think it’s a good tournament,” said Pokes head coach Mark Branch. “It’s not nearly as deep as the Cliff Keen was, but we need that right now. Now we need guys going out and wrestling several matches. A couple of guys only got two or three matches last week, we need experience and we need mat time right now.
"This is a tournament where we shouldn’t get overwhelmed but we’re going to get tested too, there’s going to be some really good individuals there that we’re going to have to get through.”
At last week’s Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, three Cowboys had podium finishes, led by Montorie Bridges’ runner-up finish at 133 pounds. Hayden Hastings and Brian Andrews also placed in Sin City, taking seventh and eighth, respectively. All five of Hastings’ wins came in bonus-point fashion as he recorded a pair of falls and three major decisions.
The Pokes finished 13 with 49.5 points in the loaded field, including recording six victories over ranked opponents. Both Andrews and Hastings had two wins each over ranked opponents.
Sunday will be the 25 anniversary of the Reno Tournament of Champions, held at the Reno Events Center. Last year, the Pokes finished in fourth at the event and had one champion and a pair of second-place finishes. The Cowboys are looking for their third consecutive RENO TOC with an Outstanding Wrestler as former Pokes 141-pounders Bryce Meredith (2017) and Sam Turner (2018) took home the honor. The Cowboys are also looking for their fifth-straight top-four finish in Reno.
“It’s a grinder for a day, but the guys know that. They know that they only have to make weight once and so I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing how we bounce back. I don’t think these two Nevada tournaments have been so close together before, but at the same time, it gives us an opportunity to put into play what we talked about after Cliff Keen,” continued Branch.
Jaron Jensen became the sixth Cowboy to be ranked this season as he jumped to No. 23 in the TrackWrestling 149-pound poll. Jensen joins Cole Verner (No. 19) at 125, Montorie Bridges (No. 7) at 133, Hayden Hastings (No. 10) at 174, Tate Samuelson (No. 29) at 184 and Brian Andrews (No. 16) at heavyweight in the national rankings.
The Cowboys will be sending a number of student-athletes to Reno, including multiple wrestlers in the starting lineup and Pokes who will be competing unattached.