Dualing with Cowboys

Danny Rice, Sports Reporter

Wrestling host Wyoming in final dual meet before conferenence play

By Danny Rice

Sports Reporter

While it may be easy to assume that this weekend’s dual is going to be about getting revenge, as Wyoming handed the Beaver’s their only defeat a season ago—according to Head Coach Jim Zalesky—his team refuses to think that way.

“It’s a whole different year,” Zalesky said. “They have a bunch of new guys and we have a bunch of new guys. So it’s a whole different year.”

Instead, the No. 23 Beavers (4-4) will look to earn their first home dual victory over a Division I opponent this Saturday at 12 p.m. against the Cowboys (1-4). 

Matchup against Wyoming

The Beavers are 20-8 all-time against the Cowboys with Wyoming winning the most recent contest in early 2015 when they upset the Beavers 21-17 in Laramie, Wyo. The only common opponent this year between the two sides is Nebraska, where both Wyoming and the Beavers were defeated 35-4 and 25-6, respectively.  

Despite Wyoming’s record, they come into the match having narrowly lost to then No. 12 Oklahoma 21-16. They also include three ranked wrestlers with No. 15 junior 125-pounder Drew Templeman, No. 14 sophomore 141-pounder Bryce Meredith, and No. 18 heavyweight senior Tanner Harms. 

Templeman moved down in weight classes this year from 133 pounds to 125 pounds, where he lost twice to redshirt sophomore 141-pounder Jack Hathaway a year ago when both wrestled at 133 pounds. 

Having only been a year removed since the two teams last faced each other, come Saturday, the matchups will be completely different with no wrestlers having faced their opponents from last meeting.  

Zalesky is excited to face another strong team and is expecting that to win this dual, his team is going to have to battle.

“It’s going to be tough,” Zalesky said. “It’s always a good dual meet. Expect a hard fight. We got some momentum from the Central Michigan win and we have to keep it going.”

Beavers Youth Bounce Back

With the Beavers being a young team—seven of the ten starters are redshirt sophomores or younger—momentum is crucial to keeping confidence and spirits high. 

After the Beavers only produced one win from their seven young guys against Michigan, five would earn victories over their opponents in the Central Michigan dual. One of the five to garner a victory in the latter dual was Hathaway—who defeated a ranked wrestler. 

“I felt good,” Hathaway said. “After moving up in weight class, I think I’m starting to feel comfortable now.”

Unfortunately for Hathaway, he injured his shoulder during the win and is unlikely to participate on Saturday. If he is indeed not able to wrestle, the Beavers will look to redshirt junior Jared Reis. 

Reis is 12-6 on the season and has placed third in the Roadrunner Open and second in the Mike Clock Open, where he lost to Hathaway in the finals, 5-4.

Palmer’s Leadership

With a little over a month until the regular season concludes, redshirt junior and captain 133-pounder Joey Palmer (16-7) is hoping his leadership helps prepare his team mentally and physically to finish the season strong.

“(I’m telling them) make sure you’re doing things right. Just like (Zalesky) preaches, make sure you’re getting your homework (done), you’re getting your sleep, you’re getting your extra workouts in and you’re doing all the little things right.”

Palmer was also recently introduced into the Top-20 rankings at 133-pounds by Intermat at No. 20—but don’t expect Palmer to celebrate.

“I’ve always known I’m top 20. Rankings are only good for seeding at the NCAA tournament. Rankings aren’t a big concern for me. A concern for me is getting ready for the NCAAs.”

When asked the key to victory, Palmer kept it pretty simple—be ready for battle. 

“They’re all Division I competitors, so you have to be ready to battle when you hit the mat.”

On Twitter @DRice1730

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