* University of Wyoming press release

LARAMIE -- The University of Wyoming boasts three wrestlers competing at the NCAA Championships in Kansas City this week. Jore Volk (125), Gabe Willochell (149) and Joey Novak (197) will take aim at the at the very best that collegiate wrestling has to offer from Thursday through Saturday inside the T-Mobile Center.

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“We just need to build on the improvements they have made,” head coach Mark Branch said. “There are still a few details that we can improve on and some positions where we need to be better, so our week leading up is business as usual.”

Volk headlines the collection of three Cowboys. The sophomore will be making his second trip in as many years to the NCAA Championships after a strong performance at the Big 12 Tournament.

Volk won a conference title, making the biggest Cinderella run of any one in Tulsa, as he was seeded fifth and finished atop the podium. Volk knocked off the No. 1, 2 and 4 seeds en route to his crown.

“I feel confident that Jore learned more about himself in Tulsa,” Branch said. “He was able to tap into something special that he hasn’t really experienced before.”

Branch and Volk hope that will benefit him this time at NCAAs. He went 1-2 at last year’s Championships after being awarded the No. 21 seed.

This year, Volk – with a 22-6 overall record and 10 ranked victories – is the No. 5 seed after being ranked No. 6 in the final Coaches’ Poll and No. 3 in the RPI. He’s 8-6 against the other 125-pounders in his bracket. His tournament begins Thursday against Harvard’s No. 28-seeded Diego Sotelo (ranked No. 32).

“If he can carry what he learned at the Big 12 Tournament into Kansas City, it will be a great tournament for him,” Branch said. “He’s 100 percent capable of beating every guy in the bracket. He just needs to keep it simple, take it one match at a time and have fun wrestling.”

Willochell is also embarking on his second journey to the NCAA Championships. He qualified for the 2022 version as a member of Edinboro’s squad.

Willochell was competing at 141 pounds in 2022. As the No. 23 seed, he went 0-2.

Willochell is the No. 22 seed at 149 pounds this time around. He punched an automatic bid to the Championships by way of finishing fourth at the Big 12 Tournament after entering with a No. 7 seed.

Willochell is 18-10 with a pair of ranked wins this season and 2-6 against his NCAA bracket. He was ranked No. 21 in the Coaches’ Poll and No. 24 in the RPI. His 2024 Championships begins with a matchup against Rider’s No. 11-seeded Quinn Kinner (ranked No. 22).

Joey Novak is making his first-ever trip to the NCAA Championships. The freshman earned his bid following a fourth-place finish, after being seeded sixth, at the Big 12 Tournament.

Novak owns the No. 17 seed at the NCAA Championships. He went 22-12 this season, beating seven ranked guys, and was ranked No. 18 in the Coaches’ Poll and No. 16 in the RPI.

Novak’s NCAA Championships begin with Princeton’s No. 16-seeded Luke Sout (ranked No. 13). Novak is 7-11 against the bracket.

The NCAA Championships begin Thursday with Session 1 at 10 a.m. All three days have two sessions with the first beginning at 10 a.m. and the second commencing at 5 p.m.

The ESPN family of networks will broadcast the entire event. Broad-based coverage of the event is provided by ESPNU and ESPN, while individual mat coverage can be found on ESPN-Plus.

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