7 Cowboys wrestlers ranked in coaches’ panel debut
LARAMIE – The NCAA released the first of four coaches’ panel rankings for the 2019-20 wrestling season Friday with seven Cowboys appearing in the initial rankings at their specific weight classes. The final rankings will be one of the criteria used as part of the selection process to determine qualifiers and seeding for the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, March 19-21 in Minneapolis, Minn., at US Bank Stadium.
The rankings are determined by a vote of 14 coaches in each weight class with two head coaches from each of the seven conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, EIWA, MAC, Pac-12 and SoCon). For ranking purposes, coaches may only consider a wrestler that has been designated as a starter at a respective weight class and have wrestled within the last 30 days. Wrestlers in each weight class are measured by winning percentage, rating percentage index (RPI) and the coaches’ rankings to earn allocation spots for their qualifying tournaments for the championships.
The above criteria, in addition to head-to-head competition, quality wins, results against common opponents and qualifying tournament placement are all part of the evaluation process for selection and seeding, that the committee uses for the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
Montorie Bridges at 133 pounds, has the best ranking for the Cowboys as he has earned a top-10 ranking from the coaches, coming in at No. 7, the highest-rated Big 12 wrestler in the weight class. Bridges, who was a 2018 All-American, leads Wyoming with 23 wins this season and has seven consecutive victories, including 13-of-14 lately. Bridges is 2-2 against other ranked opponents this season and has gone 10-1 in duals this season and has earned 36 team points in dual meets.
Hayden Hastings received the other top-10 rating for the Cowboys, coming in at No. 10 at 174 pounds, which is the second-highest rating from a wrestler in the Big 12. Hastings, who returned to the lineup two weeks ago at North Dakota State and South Dakota State, is 17-4 on the season with a pair of top-25 wins. Hastings has been dominant on the mat this season, recording 14 bonus-point wins in his 17 victories.
At 149 pounds, Jaron Jensen ranks 26th in the initial rankings. Jensen has compiled a 16-10 record in the loaded weight class. Jensen has already faced nine ranked opponents this season, including earning a 6-5 win over No. 5 Brock Mauller of Missouri down at the South Beach Duals.
Dewey Krueger comes in at No. 33 at 157 pounds in the first coaches’ panel. Krueger, who was the 157-pound champion at the Reno Tournament of Champions in December, has 15 victories this season. Krueger is the only Cowboy to be named Big 12 Wrestler of the Week this season, as he received the honor after being named the Most Outstanding Wrestler in Reno.
At 184 pounds, Tate Samuelson comes in at No. 32. Samuelson has won 3-of-4 since the beginning of the New Year and has a 13-9 record this season and has already faced seven ranked opponents in 19-20. Samuelson was one of four champions for the Pokes in Reno, as he went 5-0 at the event.
Stephen Buchanan debuts at No. 26 at 197. The true freshman has compiled a 19-8 record this season and has won 6-of-7 lately. Buchanan has four falls, three major decisions and one tech fall victory this season. Buchanan won his first nine matches of the season as he was crowned the champion at both the Cowboy Open and Northern Colorado Open.
Brian Andrews rounds-out the rankings at heavyweight for the Cowboys, coming in at No. 18 in the rankings and is slated to face the No. 7 ranked wrestler in Utah Valley’s Tate Orndorff this weekend. Andrews’ 20 victories are the second-most on the team this season and he leads the Pokes with five ranked victories already this year. Andrews has a 9-2 dual record this season and has five pins.
Wyoming finally gets to play host this weekend as the Pokes host CSU Bakersfield Friday at 7 p.m., at the UniWyo Sports Complex and then travels to Green River for the Outreach Match against Utah Valley at 2 p.m., Sunday.
— University of Wyoming press release