UW wrestling represents at NCAA championships

Mar. 18—LARAMIE — The University of Wyoming sent three wrestlers to the NCAA Division I Championships to compete with the best collegiate grapplers in the nation.

Graduate Jacob Wright, redshirt senior Cole Moody and true freshman Jore Volk began their action on the big stage on Thursday at BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Wright and Volk were able to advance to Friday's matches.

Seeded No. 15 at 157 pounds, Wright stared his tournament with a rematch against Indiana's No. 18 seeded Derek Gilcher. Wright scored the only takedown of the match in the second period and held off Gilcher late for a 3-2 victory.

In his round of 16 match, Wright wrestled tough but came up short against Penn State's No. 2 Levi Haines after an 8-2 decision.

Competing in his first NCAA tourney at No. 21, Volk didn't waste time to make a statement at 125 with an opening-round upset over Northwestern's No. 12 Michael DeAugustino. After a 1-1 tie through three periods, Volk was the aggressor in the sudden-victory period by pushing the pace and firing off a single-leg attack on the edge of the mat to score the winning takedown to earn a spot in the round of 16.

Volk then came up just short in a hard-fought 8-3 loss to West Virginia's No. 28 Killian Cardinale.

Moody, No. 32 at 165, had his season come to a close with a 7-4 decision loss to Harvard's No. 33 Josh Kim and an 11-2 major decision loss to Drexel's Evan Barczak.

"Every match here is the best of the best and crazy things start right away in this tournament and you want to be on the sunny side of those crazy stories," UW coach Mark Branch said in a news release. "Jore had a big match (Thursday) morning that helped set the tone but nothing gets easier, it just gets harder.

"Obviously, I wish we had all three guys (advance). I believe in our guys but we can't sit around and get down on ourselves ... they need to put losses behind them and focus on the next match — that's all that matters."

In the consolation rounds on Friday, Volk was in nail-biter against Big 12 champion and Northern Colorado's No. 6 Stevo Poulin, coming up short in a 5-3 decision loss. In Volk's first season as a Cowboy, he amassed 25 wins that included five wins over ranked opponents and earned fifth place at the Big 12 championships to qualify for the national championships.

Wright had his tournament come to an end in a down-to-the-wire 3-2 decision loss to Northern Colorado's No. 32 Vinny Zerban. Wright finishes his Cowboy career with 103 wins putting him in 18th all-time in program history. He also was a four-time NCAA qualifier and a four-time Big 12 championship place winner.