The Dual of the Week is back this week, showcasing a pair of teams that have yet to make an appearance in this feature during the 2018-19 season. Tired of only seeing Big Ten teams? Me too! Let’s take a look at two, new Big 12 rivals the 12th ranked Wyoming Cowboys and the unranked Fresno State Bulldogs.
Fresno State is the second year of competition after the relaunch of their program. In 2006 the school dropped the wrestling team; however, locals never stopped fighting and eventually won, getting team program reinstated. Troy Steiner was tabbed to lead the revitalized Bulldog program and was able to produce a pair of NCAA qualifiers in the teams first season. Now in his second year, Steiner currently has a winning record (7-6) and comes into this matchup on a three-match winning streak. On Thursday night, FSU knocked off Oregon State, which is a remarkable feat for such a young team. There is a high level of excitement and interest surrounding the team, especially in California, and it has shown with the recruits that signed with Fresno State in the fall. The west may have a team to reckon with, and by the looks of it, it could be sooner rather than later.
Mark Branch is in his 11th year at Wyoming and this year’s team is among the toughest he has fielded, at least in dual competition. Branch’s group is an interesting one, as most of the starters were not five-star, can’t miss prospects; but they have bought into his system and most are experiencing success early in their college careers. Wyoming comes into Fresno with an eight-match winning streak, and they have an overall record of 12-3. The Cowboys were the first team to knock off #7 NC State this year, and they also have a win over #20 North Carolina. A testament to the “team” assembled by Branch and is staff is that the school is ranked 12th in the country, though only four of its starters are currently ranked.
Here’s a breakdown of the probable matchups and TOM’s predictions, along with projections from WrestleStat.
125 - #18 Cole Verner (Wyoming) vs. Robert Garcia (Fresno State)
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