Wrestling: Branch Setting High Expectations

Photo Courtesy Of: UW Athletics Media Relations
Photo Courtesy Of: UW Athletics Media Relations
Photo Courtesy Of: UW Athletics Media Relations

When one sees a piece of art, typically they are only seeing the finished product. They do not know about all of the hard work that went into creating it. The same goes for a wrestling team, where the team spends exponentially more hours practicing than they do actually wrestling.

Head coach Mark Branch has high hopes for the Wyoming Cowboys wrestling team for this up-coming season and much like an artist, he has been working on the little things.

Coach Branch said, “The expectations are a little bit more in the details than they are in the results. I think that the results will take care of themselves if we go out there and wrestle the way that we are capable of and train the way that we are capable of.”

Entering the season, Wyoming was ranked No. 21 in the nation with seven seniors on the roster. This is a team with many that have the potential to become All-Americans and Coach Branch knows what he needs to do. He doesn’t want these wrestlers to just be happy with having a good season.

“There are guys that had successful seasons last year but now we want them to go to another level where they can challenge to become an All-American and not be satisfied with just having a successful season,” said coach Branch.

To begin the season, a couple of wresters are looking like they are taking their game to another level. Senior Tyler Cox has a 3-1 record to begin this season and is 2-0 versus ranked opponents. Cox is ranked eleventh in the nation at 125 pounds. Senior Shane Woods is has a 6-1 to start the year and is ranked No. 24 in the nation at 197 pounds. Wyoming currently has six wrestlers ranked on this team.

There is a wrestler that has been a surprise to coach Branch. Sophomore Jake Elliot didn’t start much for the Cowboys last season and wrestled a lot of reserve matches. He had a record of 13-7 last season. This season Elliot is starting at 149 pounds for the Cowboys and has a record of 8-2.

Coach Branch said of Elliot’s season so far, “We weren’t really sure what to expect out of him stepping into that starting role this year. He came out in our first dual against Nebraska and really beat and NCAA qualifier.”

Wyoming has lost their first two duals of the season to Nebraska and Minnesota, who are both nationally ranked. Coach Branch is looking to get his team going back in the right direction again by pushing them in practice.

“I stole a quote that said, ‘The more you bleed in training the less you bleed on the battlefield.’ We are going to bleed a little bit through this training cycle and make our body’s sore and make us hurt a little bit. That is going to serve us well on the battlefield when we compete next.”

This team is putting in the dirty work when no one is watching. Coach Branch is having this team work on the details and be pushed during practice. They might bleed now, but it will be worth it for the finished product in the end.

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