Branch Bolsters Wyoming Wrestling Roster with Nine Signees
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- Wyoming head wrestling coach Mark Branch announced the addition of nine signees to the roster on Thursday. Ethan Ducca (Chardon, Ohio), Gabe Willochell (Greensburg, Penn.), Paolo Salminen (Billings, Mont.), David Saenz (Corona, Calif.), Stockton O’Brien (Woodland, Utah), Cooper Birdwell (Lewistown, Mont.), Lane Catlin (Gillette, Wyoming), Austin Richens (Vernal, Utah) and Winston McBride (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) all join the Cowboy roster for the 2023-24 season.
With the nine newcomers, the complete signing class for the 2023-24 season features 15 wrestlers including four transfers and 11 high school signings.
Ethan Ducca – Chardon, Ohio – Edinboro – 184 – RSo.
Before Wyoming: Ducca began his collegiate career at Edinboro University where he compiled a record of 24-14 over two seasons… Finished fifth at the 2022 Mac Championships… Excelled in the classroom as well earning NWCA Scholar All-American honors twice as well as being named to the 2022 Academic All-Mac team… Was also a two-time Edinboro Scholar Athlete honoree… Went to high school at Ashtabula St. John… Finished as the runner-up at the Ohio State Tournament along with being an All-Ohio selection in football.
Gabe Willochell – Greensburg, Penn. – Edinboro – 141 – Rso.
Before Wyoming: Before coming to Wyoming, Willochell spent two seasons at Edinboro having a breakout season in 2021-22 going 20-10 and qualifying for his first career NCAA Tournament… Finished third at the 2022 MAC wrestling championships… posted a record of 13-3 during the 2020-21 season capping off his year with a fifth-place finish at the MAC Championships... Went to high school at Greater Latrobe where he was a three-time Pennsylvania state qualifier including finishing third at the 2020 PIAA State Championships.
Paolo Salminen – Billings, Mont. Skyview High School – 165/174 – Fr.
High School: Salminen capped off his prep career at Skyview High School as a back-to-back Montana State Champion going undefeated over his final two seasons… Was a four-time state placer finishing second in 2020 and third in 2021… Finished his career at Skyview High School with a record of 132-12… Was named the 2023 midland roundtable athlete of the year as well as the 2023 USAW Gordon Smith Outstanding wrestler of the year… Set a Montana AA state record for most pins in a single season… Also excelled in football as a three-year letter winner and second-team all-state defensive selection.
David Saenz – Corona, Calif. – Mt. San Antonio College – 133 – Jr.
Before Wyoming: Before coming to Laramie, Saenz had a very successful career at Mt. San Antonio College finishing as the runner up at the CCCAA Championships in 2021 and 2022… Saenz helped his team to a CCCAA State Championship title in 2021 and a runner-up team finish in 2022… Saenz also captured back-to-back CCCAA Southern region titles in his time at Mt. SAC while helping the Mounties to back-to-back CCCAA Southern Region Team titles.
Stockton O’Brien – Woodland, Utah – Utah Valley – 141 – RSo.
Before Wyoming: In his three seasons at Utah Valley, O’Brien competed in numerous duals and open tournaments compiling a record of 7-9 over two seasons while going 9-4 during his redshirt season… Won the 2021 Rocky Mountain Collegiate open posting a 4-0 record… Finished fourth at the 2021 Roadrunner Open with a record of 4-2… Prepped at Wasatch high School where he had a very successful career winning four Utah State titles as well as four divisional titles… Was a two-time NHSCA High School All-American as well as a one-time USA Wrestling Folkstyle All-American… Helped Wasatch to three state team titles during his high school career.
Cooper Birdwell – Lewistown, Mont. – Oklahoma State – 133/141 – RSo.
Before Wyoming: Birdwell spent two seasons at Oklahoma State posting a record of 5-0 during the 2022-23 season winning the Golden Norseman Open in his lone appearance on the season… Redshirted during the 2021-22 season posting a record of 8-2 highlighted by a third place finish at the Reno Tournament of Champions… Prepped at Fergus High School where he won four Montana State titles accruing a career record of 178-0 becoming just the fourth Montana wrestler to amass a undefeated record in their career.
Lane Catlin – Gillette, Wyoming – Thunder Basin HS – 285 – Fr.
High School: Catlin put together an extremely impressive prep career at Thunder Basin High School winning three consecutive Wyoming State Titles… Was a back-to-back 4A east regional champion… Finished fourth at the 2020 state tournament his freshman season… Won the highly competitive and prestigious Ron Thon Memorial twice during his career capturing the title in 2021 and 2022.
Austin Richens – Vernal, Utah – Uintah HS – 184 – Fr.
High School: Richens prepped at Uintah High School where captured two state titles and earned high school all-American honors twice…Awarded the most inspirational athlete award from the Utah Desert News.
Winston McBride – Highlands Ranch, Colorado – Valor Christian HS – 285 – Fr.
High School: McBride was a two-sport athlete during his prep career at Valor Christian finding success in both football and wrestling… During his senior season, McBride went 39-4 on the wrestling mat with 35 of his wins coming by pin setting a new record at Valor Christian in the process… McBride capped off his season with a fourth-place finish at the Colorado State Championships… Also helped to lead the football team to two state title games.
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