It ended up being a difficult NCAA Championship for the Wyoming Cowboy wrestling team, as no one made it past session three in Pittsburgh last weekend.

Wyoming tied for 34th place with 9.5 team points. Head coach Mark Branch, in a statement issued by the University of Wyoming, knew his guys ran into some tough opponents last Friday.

“I was actually really proud of the way they competed today. At most weights, I thought our toughest performances were today, but we fought hard and we’ve got to find ways to get over that hump, but our backs were against the wall in some of these matches but these guys fought hard and battled. They need to hold their heads high and be motivated about what they can do to elevate their wrestling so that they can get in that upper echelon.”

Sophomores Montorie Bridges (133 pounds) and Sam Turner (141) both posted a 2-2 record. Each Cowboy won their first match, lost in the round of 16, bounced back with a consolation second-round victory before they lost in the consolation third round.

The rest of the Wyoming contingent finished 1-2. That included senior Branson Ashworth (165), junior Cole Verner (125), sophomore Brian Andrews (Heavyweight), and freshmen Hayden Hastings (174) and Tate Samuelson (184).

Despite a tough outing at the national championships, the Cowboys put together some impressive marks during the 2018-19 season. The seven NCAA qualifiers were the most since 2013 and tied for the most in the Mark Branch era. Wyoming also finished with 16 dual team wins, the most in the Branch era, and just one off the school record of 17 set in the 1966-67 season.

Branch added, “It was a really good season and gives us a lot to be optimistic about and a lot to build on. I can’t think of a time when we’ve had six NCAA qualifiers returning and that’s a lot to really figure out some of the things that are keeping us from getting in those All-American rounds. It was really a surprising season. These guys really showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight all year.”

Ashworth is the lone NCAA qualifier the Cowboys lose. The senior finished with 121 wins in his career. That ties him for sixth in program history.

The 2019-2020 season starts in November.

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