UW Wrestling Out to Prove Itself Ahead of the 2023-24 Season
* University of Wyoming press release
LARAMIE -- The University of Wyoming wrestling team didn't have the season it wanted last year. The Cowboys struggled in duals and in postseason competition equating to a season devoid of many highlights.
The disappointment has created quite a large chip on the shoulder of the student-athletes and coaches. It's one they're embracing, as they're steadfast to change the narrative ahead of the 2023-24 season.
"We are coming off of a tough season where we didn't have a lot of opportunities to celebrate," head coach Mark Branch said. "To be honest, we aren't getting a lot of respect right now. Respect is earned, and it's our job to go out and earn that respect and prove ourselves.
"That's what I expect us to do."
Plenty of Cowboys who competed last season are back. They're joined by a large group of incomers who enter the fray.
The newbies have come from not just the high school ranks but the transfer portal, as well. It gives Branch plenty of more-than-capable options and competition when determining who will start this season.
"We have so much more depth than we have had the past few years, and that's exciting," Branch said. "The competition in the room is fun to watch. I think when you have an older team, as we have had in the past few years, there tends to not be as much competition within the practice room. We have a lot of hungry guys who are looking to make an impact, and I think a lot of guys will get that chance."
Jore Volks spearheads Wyoming's roster this season. He advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a freshman after residing in or near the top-10 at 125 pounds.
Garrett Ricks was a mainstay in the starting lineup at 133 pounds. He logged multiple dual victories in his first season at the Division I level – after transferring in from Western Wyoming Community College – en route to an eighth-place finish at the Big 12 Championships.
Quayin Short, Brett McIntosh and Tyce Raddon, who will all likely wrestle at a different weight this season, round out the returning impactful Cowboys from 2022-23. Each made more than a handful of starts a season ago.
Logan Ours, Cooper Voorhees, Mason Ding all registered at least one start for Wyoming last year. All three will look to make a jump into a more prominent role this season.
In addition to the returnees, Branch welcomed in few impactful transfers. Gabe Willochell and Ethan Ducca come to Wyoming from Edinboro where they started and finished third and fifth, respectively, at the MAC Championships.
Stockton O'Brien and Cooper Birdwell arrive in Laramie from fellow Big 12 schools. O'Brien wrestled at Utah Valley, while Copper Birdwell competed at Oklahoma State.
To sum it up, there are a number of different options for Branch to fill out his starting rotation. Those options range from well-known Cowboys to decorated young ones to transfer portal enhancements.
Whomever the wrestler is, they all have one thing in common. They our out to prove that not only themselves but the team as a whole will turn some heads.
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