* University of Wyoming press release

LARAMIE -- The University of Wyoming wrestling team will look to shake off Thursday’s disappointment on Sunday. The Cowboys host North Dakota State at 1 p.m. inside the UniWyo Sports Complex.

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The Pokes own a 6-6 overall mark and a 4-4 record in Big 12 duals. Due to illness, Wyoming had a different lineup against No. 11 South Dakota State on Thursday, and the new combination struggled.

That shifting starting rotation has been a common theme this season. In 12 duals, the Pokes have trotted out 12 different lineups with the reasoning ranging from ailments, sickness to natural tweaking of a young roster that features just three departing seniors.

“It has been hard to have a consistent core group,” head coach Mark Branch said. “We don’t have enough depth to be doing that. It has been a challenge for some individuals to stay focused when the team maybe isn’t consistent and struggling at times.”

Wyoming has really only struggled against the upper echelon of Division I. Five of its six losses this season have come against teams ranked inside of the top 20 of the NWCA Coaches’ Poll, and three of those are ranked inside the top six.

The Pokes have dominated the other half of their schedule. In their six victories, they’ve outscored foes by a combined tally of 173-67.

Wyoming will look to get back to that success Sunday. The Bison sit at 3-7 overall and 2-2 in league. North Dakota State competes at Utah Valley on Friday night.

The Bison boast a pair of ranked wrestlers. No. 18 Gaven Sax (174) and No. 29 Gavin Drexler (141) headline the Bison’s roster.

The Cowboys counter with a quartet of ranked guys. No. 4 Jore Volk (125) spearheads that list, and he’ll look to stop his two-match slide Sunday, as he currently possesses an 18-6 record.

No. 14 Gabe Willochell (149) is 15-7 after dropping a ranked matchup Thursday. No. 19 Joey Novak (197) didn’t wrestle against the Jackrabbits because of illness. He owns a 17-10 record.

No. 31 Cole Brooks (141) rounds out the ranked brown and gold grapplers. He was the lone Cowboy to log a win Thursday, moving to 10-4 on the season.

North Dakota State took last year’s meeting, 32-3, in Fargo, as Volk registered the only victory. The last time the two met in Laramie, the Bison claimed a 22-14 win during the 2021-22 season.

Following the dual against North Dakota State, Wyoming wraps up its 2023-24 dual slate against Oregon State. That matchup is set for Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. inside the UniWyo Sports Complex.

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