LARAMIE – The University of Wyoming wrestling team officially begins the 2019-20 season Thursday afternoon in Laramie as the Pokes open practice at 3:15 p.m. UW is led by head coach Mark Branch, who is entering his 12th season with the Cowboys.
Branch, who has led the Cowboys to a 116-53 dual record during his time at UW, returns six NCAA qualifiers from a season ago in Cole Verner at 125 pounds, Montorie Bridges at 133, Sam Turner at 141, Hayden Hastings at 174, Tate Samuelson at 184 and Brian Andrews at heavyweight. Wyoming lost just one NCAA qualifier from last year, in Branson Ashworth at 165.
In addition to the six returning national tournament participants, the Pokes return 13 wrestlers from the 2018-19 season and will also add 12 newcomers to the roster.
The six returning NCAA qualifiers, in addition to Cale Davidson at 197 pounds, all enter the season ranked by most wrestling publications. Bridges is ranked seventh and Turner 10th by WIN magazine.
The Cowboys begin competition with the Cowboy Open in Laramie, Nov. 2. The tournament begins at 9 a.m. at the War Memorial Fieldhouse. In addition to the open, the Pokes host five duals in 2019-20 beginning Jan. 24 against CSU Bakersfield.
Wyoming also hosts Utah Valley on Jan. 26, Fresno State on Feb. 6, Oklahoma State on Feb. 8 and Northern Colorado on Feb. 16. The Utah Valley match will be hosted in Green River at 2 p.m.