The Wyoming wrestling team will open the 2018-19 season ranked No. 22 in the NWCA Division I Coaches Poll released Wednesday. It marks the program’s first appearance in the poll’s preseason top 25 since 2014.
Penn State earned the top spot in the poll with all 16 first-place votes, followed by Ohio State, Iowa, Big 12 rival Oklahoma State, and Michigan to round out the top five.
The Cowboys are coming off a historic season in 2013, in which the team compiled 13 dual wins—the fourth-most in school history. Coming off a 13-3 overall record and a 7-2 mark in Big 12 play, head coach Mark Branch returns three NCAA qualifiers from a season ago, including All-American Montorie Bridges.
Last season, the Cowboys finished in fourth at the Big 12 Championships with two individual conference champions in Bryce Meredithand Archie Colgan. The finish was the highest for a Wyoming team since joining the Big 12 in 2015, and was enough to earn Branch a Coach of the Year nod from the league’s coaches.
At the NCAA Championships, Bridges became the program’s second freshman All-American, finishing eighth at 133 pounds while Meredith added his second NCAA finals appearance at 141 pounds. As a team, Wyoming tallied its best finish under branch as the Cowboys placed 17th. It was the 20th top-25 finish and third in a row for the Brown and Gold.
The Cowboys will open the 2018-19 season this week when they host the Cowboy Open beginning at 9 a.m. MT at the UW War Memorial Fieldhouse.