Head coach Mark Branch and Cowboy wrestling team announced the 2017-18 schedule on Tuesday afternoon. Coming off a season in which the Brown and Gold sent five Pokes to the NCAA Championships, UW will compete in four non-conference tournaments and host five home duals in the UniWyo Sports Complex, in addition to an outreach dual against Oklahoma State in Cheyenne. The dual against OSU will be at Storey Gym and will be the first time UW hosted a dual in the state's capital city since Feb. 21, 2013 against Air Force.
"We like open tournaments early because it helps our team get a good number of matches in within those first few weeks," Cowboy head coach Branch said. "Our first dual will be a tough Big Ten opponent that will also allow us to get more experience. Going up against Oklahoma State may be a bit different with it being a midweek dual, but it makes sense with timing. It will also be great for our fans. Everyone will get an opportunity to see a rematch of the 2016 NCAA Finals between two-time All-American Bryce Meredith and two-time NCAA Champion Dean Heil. It will be exciting for all Wyoming fans."
Wyoming's season will begin on Nov. 4 with the 40th annual Cowboy Open where UW will look to improve off its five individual titles from last year's Open. The Pokes next open tournament will be the University of Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Open on Nov. 18.
Wyoming's first dual meet of the season will be its toughest road opponent as it will take on Nebraska on Nov. 17. UNL closed out the season as the fifth-ranked team after a ninth-place finish at the 2016 NCAA Championships, where four Husker wrestlers placed.
UW will once again look to make its mark at the Cliff Keen Invite in Las Vegas on Dec. 1-2. Wyoming placed four individuals at the premier tournament a year ago and brought home an eighth-place team finish after 11 bonus-point wins and multiple upsets during the two days of action.
The following week, Wyoming will travel to Iowa State for a Big 12 road dual before making its way to Reno, Nev., for the Reno Tournament of Champions. UW's outreach dual was against Boise State in Afton, Wyo., last year, but the Pokes will meet up with Oklahoma State in Cheyenne on Dec. 19 this season. A year ago, OSU took runner-up honors as a team at Nationals where eight Cowboys clinched All-American status, including national champion Heil at 141-pounds.
"In terms of our outreach dual, we were looking at a dual in Cheyenne," Branch added. "It's going to be great to host a top-five team in Oklahoma State. The atmosphere will be unbelievable. We also continue to like the idea of the North Carolina duals. Each team that participated last year is back so hopefully in the next year or two we can host here in Laramie and make a nice event out of it as well. It gives us an opportunity with more matches against teams we don't see very often. When looking at our conference duals, I like the fact that we get to see a couple new or different teams. We have a solid stretch on the road this year, but we know we'll have to come ready to compete."
Wyoming will hit the road for the North Carolina Duals on Jan. 5 before a dual with Cal-State Bakersfield in the UniWyo Sports Complex on Jan. 12. At the North Carolina Duals, UW will see UNC, Army West Point and American. The next three duals will be on the road for the Brown and Gold. Wyoming will travel to Oregon State on Jan. 14, South Dakota State on Jan. 18, and North Dakota State on Jan. 20 before its final four duals at home. One of the Big 12's newest members, Fresno State, will make its way to Laramie for a dual on Jan. 27, just before the Pokes welcome Oklahoma, who finished second at last season's Big 12 Championships, on Feb. 4.
"It will be good to be home from late January until we leave for Big 12s," Branch added. "That will be much needed time for us to focus on the improvements we will have to make late in the year to get prepared for the conference tournament."
Duals with Utah Valley (Feb. 9), Northern Colorado (Feb. 10) and at Air Force (Feb. 16) will close out the regular season for the Pokes. The Big 12 Championships will once again take place at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., on March 3-4, while the NCAA Championships are set for Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on March 15-17.
2017-18 Cowboy Wrestling Schedule
Nov. 4 - Cowboy Open
Nov. 17 – at Nebraska
Nov. 18 - Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open
Dec. 1-2 – Cliff Keen Invite
Dec. 9 – at Iowa State
Dec. 17 – Reno Tournament of Champions
Dec. 19 – Oklahoma State (Cheyenne)
Jan. 5 – at North Carolina Duals
Jan. 12 – Cal State Bakersfield
Jan. 14 – at Oregon St.
Jan. 18 – at South Dakota State
Jan. 20 – at North Dakota State
Jan. 27 – Fresno State
Feb. 4 – Oklahoma
Feb. 9 – Utah Valley
Feb. 10 – Northern Colorado
Feb. 16 – at Air Force
March 3-4 - Big 12 Championships
March 15-17 - NCAA Championships
courtesy: University of Wyoming Athletics