Trailing by one point heading into the last match Friday, the University of Wyoming wrestling team needed someone to step up. Junior Dakota Friesth did just that, outworking his opponent to give UW three team points for a 17-15 dual win over Boise State on the road.
Trailing 15-14, Friesth and the Pokes headed into the last bout of the evening needing a victory. The junior 165-pounder responded with an 8-3 decision over Boise State's Taylor West, and UW (1-0) took home the team win over the Broncos (0-1) in front of a raucous crowd of 986 in Bronco Gym.
"Given the circumstances and the pressure that was on him, he looked solid," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said of Friesth. "He wrestled solid and really dominated his opponent. He had all the weight on his shoulders and he performed and got the win for us."
Four Cowboys remained unbeaten for the year, while four redshirt freshmen made their first career starts for Wyoming. UW now has won two-straight duals against Boise State.
UW redshirt freshman Brent Havlik (10-0 overall) got the night started versus Boise State's Austin Dewey in the 174-pound bout. Havlik got an early 4-2 lead after one period, and didn't look back in a 9-6 decision to start the night. UW led 3-0 after one bout.
In the night's only matchup of ranked wrestlers, Cowboy redshirt freshman Benjamin Stroh suffered his first loss to fifth-ranked Jake Swartz at 184. Stroh, ranked 16th, earned an escape point to begin the second, only to surrender a takedown later in the period to trail 2-1 heading into the final frame. An escape and takedown by Swartz made the final 5-1, and Boise State tied the team score at 3.
Junior 197-pounder Shane Woods (8-0 overall) beat Boise State's Cody Dixon in a 10-3 decision to give UW a three-point team lead. After a BSU pin at heavyweight put Wyoming in a 9-6 hole, sixth-ranked junior Tyler Cox (9-0 overall) tied things up at 9 with a gritty 3-1 decision over Rami Haddadin at 125. In the next match, redshirt freshman Drew Templeman, wrestling with an arm injury, earned a 3-2 decision to give the Pokes a 12-9 lead.
Redshirt freshman Cole Mendenhall (9-0 overall) earned a takedown for an 8-6 win in the first sudden-victory period at 141. After an OT loss at 149, UW's 12th-ranked junior Andy McCulley was upset by Holden Packard in the third-straight OT match of the evening, 3-1. After UW was docked a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct, Boise State led 15-14 with one match to go. But Friesth rallied the Pokes with his win and Wyoming started the season with a W.
"I think we got exactly what I expected out of Boise State," Branch said. "They were battle-tough. Being in their gym, with a nearly standing-room only crowd, I knew they were going to come and wrestle hard. We looked sloppy in some areas. We had some near-miss takedowns that could've separated those matches, but we couldn't finish and ended up in tight battles.
"Overall, it was a good win because we were on the road in a tough environment and we were trying to scramble with a couple of the injuries to our lineup. I saw a lot of areas that we need to get better in. It was a positive experience because it was a scrap and a lot of those matches were street fights. With a young team, you don't know what you're going to get in tough battles but they wrestled smart and stayed focused."
Up next, Wyoming will face second-ranked Minnesota in Minneapolis on Nov. 24.
Final Score: Wyoming 17, Boise State 15
174 pounds: Brent Havlik (UW) dec. Austin Dewey (BSU), 9-6 / Wyoming 3, Boise State 0
184: No. 5 Jake Swartz (BSU) dec. No. 16 Benjamin Stroh (UW), 5-1 / Wyoming 3, Boise State 3
197: Shane Woods (UW) dec. Cody Dixon (BSU), 10-3 / Wyoming 6, Boise State 3
285: No. 5 J.T. Felix (BSU) fall (1:19) Leland Pfeifer (UW) / Boise State 9, Wyoming 6
125: No. 6 Tyler Cox (UW) dec. Rami Haddadin (BSU), 3-1 / Wyoming 9, Boise State 9
133: Drew Templeman (UW) dec. Ty Stevenson (BSU), 3-2 / Wyoming 12, Boise State 9
141: Cole Mendenhall (UW) dec. Travis Himmelman (BSU), 8-6 SV1 / Wyoming 15, Boise State 9
149: Chris Castillo (BSU) dec. Brandon Richardson (UW), 5-3 SV1 / Wyoming 15, Boise State 12
157: Holden Packard (BSU) dec. No. 12 Andy McCulley (UW), 3-1 SV1 / Wyoming 15, Boise State 15 | *After 157-pound bout, UW was docked one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
165: Dakota Friesth (UW) dec. Taylor West (BSU), 8-3 / Wyoming 17, Boise State 15