LARAMIE, Wyo. -- The 21st-ranked Wyoming wrestling team picked up its first Big 12 win of the season on Saturday afternoon in the Arena-Auditorium, overwhelming No. 19 North Dakota State, 29-6.
The Cowboys (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) took eight of the 10 bouts from the Bison, including bonus point wins from Montorie Bridges, Dewey Krueger and Carless Looney. The Pokes dominated on top as well, earning four full-period rideouts in the dual.
"The guys wrestled pretty well," Branch said. "I was pretty worried (coming in) about their energy levels, coming off of a grinding tournament like Vegas and then having a quick turnaround. We had to get busy. I let them have yesterday off because I could see them getting fatigued…Overall, our energy was pretty good. I didn't know what to expect. I looked at it on paper and there were so many unknowns.
"What you have is you have guys on both teams that have had their moments, but there is still a lot of inconsistency between them because of a lack of experience. I was pleased, and disappointed in the matches we did lose. I would have never thought that going into the dual, but you feel a little bit of a sour taste that we didn't finish off those two close ones that we lost. We still have a lot we need to improve, but it was definitely a good effort from the guys."
The night started at 197 pounds, where redshirt freshman Cale Davidson picked up a 6-3 decision over No. 20 Cordell Eaton. Eaton struck first in the bout, scoring a takedown with 18 seconds left to go in the first period. Davidson was able to get on the board with a second left on the escape, followed by a full second period rideout from the top starting position to keep the score at 2-1 heading into the final frame. From the down position, Davidson picked up a reversal 30 seconds into the third and sealed the match with 33 seconds to go in the bout with a takedown and rideout.
Heavyweight Brian Andrews followed up the win by Davidson with a 3-1 sudden victory decision over Brandon Metz to stretch the team score to 6-0. After the two grapplers traded escapes in the second and third periods to get to the end of regulation at one apiece, Andrews got the decisive takedown just 14 seconds into the first sudden victory period. The win moved Andrews to 4-1 in duals this season.
At 125 pounds, Cole Verner came up just short of an upset over No. 8 Brent Fleetwood. Verner took a 5-4 lead into the final period as he was able to reverse from bottom after a Fleetwood takedown about a minute into the frame. Fleetwood chose neutral to start the third and came up with a takedown to take the lead with just 15 seconds to go to secure the 6-5 win over the Cowboy.
Bridges recorded five takedowns en route to a 12-3 major decision over North Dakota State's Paul Bianchi at 133 pounds to lock up the first bonus point win of the dual for Wyoming and put the Pokes up, 10-3, in the match. It marked Bridges' third major of the season.
At 141, Sam Turner ran off six unanswered points following an early takedown for NDSU's Gavin Sutton in the first period. Turner was able to escape quickly and later notch a takedown with five seconds to go to take a 3-2 lead into the second. After riding out the entirety of the second period, Turner scored a reversal from the down starting position in the third and finished off the match with the riding time point for the 6-2 win over Sutton.
The Bison got back on the board for what would be the final time at 149 pounds, as Jaden Van Maanen defeated Cowboy Jaron Jensen, 7-5, in sudden victory. Trailing, 3-1, in the third period with riding time in favor of Van Maanen, Jensen was able to tie the match with a couple of takedowns in the final 30 seconds of regulation to force overtime; however, a takedown by Van Maanen six seconds into sudden victory quelled Jensen's comeback.
Junior Dewey Krueger saw the mat for a full 1:44 on Saturday as he decked Bison Nick Knutson for a first-period fall to stretch Wyoming's lead to 19-6. Krueger dropped Knutson for the takedown after a handful of shots just over a minute into the bout, catching him on his back for the fall -- his third of the season.
Senior Branson Ashworth pushed his record against NDSU's Andrew Fogarty to 4-2 on Saturday with a convincing 6-0 win over the 13th-ranked Bison junior. Ashworth dominated the match, taking down Fogarty with 1:20 to go in the first, then rode out the remainder of the first and entirety of the second to lead 2-0 heading into the final frame. Ashworth escaped from bottom to open the third, before scoring one last takedown with 44 seconds to go to all but lock up the win.
At 174 pounds, redshirt freshman Hayden Hastings dominated the third period to drop Lorenzo De La Riva, 7-3. With the score tied at two heading into the frame, Hastings scored the reversal just 17 seconds in. De La Riva would escape about 30 seconds later, but Hastings fought off a number of attacks from the Bison junior before scoring a takedown to secure the win.
In the final bout of the night, redshirt freshman Carless Looney dominated NDSU senior Tyler McNutt for the 11-0 shutout major decision. Looney opened the match with a takedown and nearfall to lead, 6-0, after one. After a second-period rideout, Looney scored another takedown and rideout in the third to close out the match on a high note.
The Cowboys will return to tournament action for their final tournament of the regular season on Dec. 20 when they head to Reno, Nev., for the Reno Tournament of Champions.
197: Cale Davidson dec. No. 20 Cordell Eaton (NDSU), 6-3
285: No. 20 Brian Andrews sv-1 Brandon Metz (NDSU), 3-1
125: No. 8 Brent Fleetwood (NDSU) dec. Cole Verner, 6-5
133: No. 13 Montorie Bridges major dec. Paul Bianchi (NDSU), 12-3
141: Sam Turner dec. Gavin Sutton (NDSU), 6-2
149: Jaden Van Maanen (NDSU) sv-1 Jaron Jensen, 7-5
157: Dewey Krueger fall Nick Knutson (NDSU), 1:44
165: No. 7 Branson Ashworth dec. No. 13 Andrew Fogarty (NDSU), 6-0
174: Hayden Hastings dec. Lorenzo De La Riva (NDSU), 7-3
184: Carless Looney major dec. Tyler McNutt (NDSU), 11-0