2021 NCAA All-American Stephen Buchanan (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
â€œThis is one of the best returning teams we've ever had here, one with lots of experience on the national level. We pushed our training schedule and competition schedule back three weeks to shorten our season and keep our guys physically and mentally healthy. We learned a lot from COVID last year and I think our training plan will help us out in Marchâ€ - Head Coach Mark Branch.
The back half of Wyoming's lineup proved to be a strength as all five starters from 157 lbs up qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2021. They were particularly strong at the last two weights with Stephen Buchanan and Brian Andrews. Buchanan really broke out in the 2021 season. He needed an at-large berth to qualify for nationals in 2020 after going 1-4 at the Big 12 Championships. Last year, Buchanan made Big 12 finals and ended up eight at Nationals. Two of his signature wins at the conference and national tournament were at the expense of Noah Adams (West Virginia), the undefeated, second seed at the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
Andrews is a two-time Big 12 finalist and a one-time champion in 2020. In each of the last two years, Andrews was given the #13 seed at nationals. Once again, he'll be in the mix for a Big 12 crown and among those finals contenders battling for a spot on the NCAA podium.
The Cowboys have everyone coming back! They will be a very experienced squad, with seven of their ten potential starters being seniors.
Wyoming returns eight NCAA qualifiers and all ten starters, so there isn't much room for any newcomers to breakthrough. That being said, the Cowboys have been on an uptick on the recruiting trail. Aidan Noonan and Bryce Dauphin are two true freshmen that have impressed during the early going in Laramie. If called into duty, these two are quite capable.
WRESTLER TO WATCH
Jake Svihel spent the 2021 season competing at 133 lbs and went 4-4 competing in extra matches. He intends on getting back down to 125, the weight where he wrestled as a true freshman in 2019-20. Svihel posted a winning record that year, but started to tail off as the year progressed. He'll compete with Brendon Garcia for the starting role at 125.
The Cowboys return national qualifier Chase Zollman at 141 lbs, but he's expected to field a challenge from Darren Green, who has impressed in the preseason. Green was 7-6 in 2021 as a true freshman. He was sent out twice in dual meet competition and put up a strong fight against good competition.
You probably already know Jacob Wright's name as the 157 lber went 18-6 and finished in the NCAA Round of 12 last year. Unbeknown to most, Wright was competing with a severe injury that has since been fixed. Now healthy, Wright should really be a force, which is scary for the rest of the 157 lb division.
125: Jake Svihel (Jr)/Brendon Garcia (Jr)
133: Job Greenwood (Jr)
141: Chase Zollman (Sr)
149: Jaron Jensen (Sr)
157: Jacob Wright (Sr)
165: Cole Moody (Sr)
174: Hayden Hastings (Sr)
184: Tate Samuelson (Sr)
197: Stephen Buchanan (Jr)
285: Brian Andrews (Sr)