Wrestling Hosts Wyoming In Final Dual of Year
Complete Notes: Wyoming
Northern Colorado hosts Wyoming in the final dual of the season for both teams on Wednesday evening. The Bears are 3-2 in Western Wrestling Conference action, while the Cowboys are a perfect 4-0 and going for a share of the league title for the first time in conference history. The teams are set to take the mat at 7:00 p.m.
Northern Colorado is just 2-24 since the 1979-80 season in dual matches against Wyoming. The Bears are also 0-2 against the Pokes since the inception of the Western Wrestling Conference in 2006-07, falling 19-16 in the first year and 22-15 last season in Laramie. The last victory against the Cowboys happened in 1992-93 when the Bears won a 25-16 non-conference dual.
It won't really be goodbye as the Bears host the NCAA Regionals at home on March 7, but Wednesday against Wyoming marks the final home dual for four seniors. Cooper Hayes, Ryan Johnson, Devan Lewis and Daniel Prater are the team's quartet in their final season of eligibility.
Four With Four
Northern Colorado looks to become the fourth team in the Western Wrestling Conference this season with four victories. Both Northern Iowa and Wyoming sport perfect 4-0 marks, while Utah Valley is 4-1. The Bears currently stand in fourth with a record of 3-2 in conference dual action.
Dominating The Falcons
Northern Colorado led from wire to wire against Air Force, winning the match 29-12. Freshman Mitchell Polkowske (149) started the evening with a technical fall victory and sophomore Justin Gaethje (157) won his ninth consecutive bout with a pin of Joseph Stafford in 2:34, the fastest pin of his career. Air Force responded by winning the next two bouts, but senior Ryan Johnson won 7-5 at 184 points and sophomore Eric Brennan followed with an 11-6 win at 197 pounds. Junior Tony Mustari earned a major decision victory, 9-1, and Brett Bahe (133) continued with a 14-8 victory over Derek Gillespie. Junior Kenny Hashimoto (141) sealed the win with a technical fall.
Senior 184-pounder Ryan Johnson was named the Western Wrestling Conference wrestler of the week after posting thrilling wins over North Dakota State and South Dakota State. He recorded an overtime pin over NDSU's Kenny Moenkedick for just the third fall of his career and second this season. He then opened the competition with a 4-3 victory over SDSU's Zach Blindert. It is the first ward for Johnson and second for a Bear this season as freshmen Mitchell Polkowske earned the award on Dec. 2.
Nine Is Fine
Justin Gaethje, after sitting out the first semester, has added another punch for the Bears. At 157 pounds, the sophomore has won his last nine bouts and 11 of his last 12 in amassing an 11-4 record in 2009. Five of those nine straight victories have come by way of fall with another being a major decision as Gaethje continues to earn bonus points for the Bears. His latest win, a pin in 2:34 over Air Force's Joseph Stafford is the fastest of his career. Gaethje's nine match winning streak is also the second longest of the season behind the 16-straight freshman Mitchell Polkowske won at the beginning of the year.
First To 20
Freshman 149-pounder Mitchell Polkowske became the first Bear to reach 20 victories this season and is now 25-6 after defeating Air Force. His 25 wins are the most for a true freshman since transitioning to Division I, as both juniors Kenny Hashimoto and Tony Mustari won 19 bouts in their freshman years and former wrestler Alex Joseph posted 19 wins in 2003-04, the first year of the transition. Mustari has also topped the 20-win plateau for 2008-09 as he currently sports a record of 23-6.
After every home event, please join the Northern Colorado coaches and members of the wrestling community at Old Chicago's, season sponsor of Northern Colorado wrestling, to break down that evening's match. The next home match, against Wyoming, will also be the last regular season match for the Bears.
Northern Colorado earned the distinct honor of hosting the NCAA West Regional in Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion on March 7. Tickets are available by calling the Northern Colorado ticket office at 970.491.4TIX or going online at www.uncbears.com. Winners of the NCAA West Regional automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship in St. Louis, Mo. The NCAA West Regional also serves as the Western Wrestling Conference Championships, where last season the Bears finished fourth overall.