Meredith, Colgan Big 12 Champs: Meredith Top Wrestler
TULSA – Seniors Archie Colgan at 157 pounds, and Bryce Meredith at 141 pounds became the first Cowboys to win Big 12 titles on Sunday, leading the Cowboys to a fourth-place finish in the Big 12 championships, the highest finish since the Cowboys wrestling team became a Big 12 member. Meredith was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler. He is the first Cowboy to earn the award while UW has been a member of the Big 12.
"Bryce and Archie made history for us,” coach Mark Branch said. “I don’t think Bryce was happy with how he wrestled (Saturday), so the way he came out (Sunday) and was great. To be the first-ever Big 12 Champion is a tremendous accomplishment and should give him a lot of confidence heading to Nationals in Cleveland.
"Archie went up against a guy he has never beaten. It was impressive for him to get over the hump and I’m looking forward to see what he can do in Cleveland. This is why we’re in the Big 12. It was a tough two-day tournament and everyone can learn something. We have five guys going to Cleveland for sure, so we’ll see what happens next. It was a good tournament for us and we’ll look to Nationals going forward.”
It also became the first time Wyoming had two individual conference champions since 2014 when when Ben Stroh (184 pounds) and Shane Woods (197 pounds) won Western Wrestling Conference titles.
Redshirt freshman Montorie Bridges (133 pounds) and junior Branson Ashworth (165) each claimed third place at their respective weights, while redshirt freshman Sam Turner took fourth at 149 pounds and senior Chaz Polson finished in fifth at 184 pounds. Colgan, Meredith, Bridges, Ashworth and Turner all advance to the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Cleveland the weekend of March 15-17.
“It was grit from our guys this morning,” Branch said. “It was a good way to start the day. To have Branson (Ashworth) and Montorie (Bridges) come back with third place was huge and even Chaz (Polson) had a really strong finish. They did a heck of a job for us.”
For the second-straight year Meredith faced Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil in the Big 12 title match. Heil was able to get a takedown in the opening period, but Meredith scored a reversal to take a 3-2 lead to the second. Meredith out did Heil in the final two minutes with a takedown and escape point and held on for the 6-5 decision to claim the title. It was the second victory over the two-time NCAA Champion this season.
In his first Big 12 title match, Colgan came out on top against No. 1 seed Clayton Ream of North Dakota State with a 4-3 decision. After no score in the opening period, Colgan fell behind after releasing Ream, but would score a takedown and take a 2-1 lead to the third. Two more escapes put him on top with the decision.
Bridges opened his day with two takedowns in the first period of the 133 pound consolation semifinals against Rico Montoya (UNC). He held a 5-3 advantage after the first three minutes and was still up, 5-4 heading into the final period. Bridges would tack on an escape and last second takedown for the 8-4 decision. It was the second win over Montoya this season. Bridges moved on the face third-place bout against No. 5 Matt Schmitt of West Virginia.
Bridges and Schmitt, who is also No. 32 in the coaches’ panel rankings, went scoreless in the opening period. After each picked up an escape point, riding time gave Bridges the edge and the 2-1 decision for third place.
In a tough match against Davion Jeffries of Oklahoma, Turner advanced with a 4-3 decision. Riding time ultimately proved to be the deciding factor. He jumped out to a 2-0 lead after a first-period takedown and it wasn’t until under a minute left in the match that he would pick up the escape to tie it at three. Turner had over two minutes of riding time in his favor for the win.
Turner faced ISU’s Jarrett Degen for the second time of the weekend in the third-place match at 149 pounds. Turner fell behind 10-1 after the opening period and was unable to recover. He fell to Degen by tech fall, 20-5, and finished his first pos-tseason tournament in fourth place.
Ashworth moved on to the third-place match with a 1-0 decision over Dawaylon Barnes. Ashworth earned the escape in the second period for what was his second win against Barnes this season. He awaited UNC’s Keilan Torres in the third-place bout. The junior wasn’t messing around in the third-place match as he impressively won via 18-0 tech fall. Ashworth had four separate four-point nearfall counts that followed a take down all within the first period. It became the second victory over Torres this season.
Leading through a good part of the 184 consolation semifinal, Polson dropped the bout as No. 2 Martin Mueller earned the fall in the third period. Polson then faced Dane Pestano (ISU) in the fifth-place match on Sunday afternoon. Looking to take fifth-place Polson exploded in his bout against Pestano. Similar to Ashworth, Polson earned a take down and multiple four-point near falls on way to the victory. He took-home fifth-place with the 16-0 tech.