Wyoming has top 25 finish

DES MOINES, Iowa (March 23, 2013) With top top-eight placers, the University of Wyoming wrestling program ensured a top-25 team finish Saturday on the final day of the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

The Cowboys snagged their 17th top-25 NCAA finish in history, and senior Alfonso Hernandez finished seventh at 197 pounds and sophomore Tyler Cox was eighth at 125. Prior to Saturday night's finals, UW sat in 23rd place with 20.5 points, but could finish no lower than 25th, depending on the outcome of the final bouts.

"As a team, we faced so many obstacles this year and so many ups and downs. Placing in the top 25 with two All-Americans, it's awesome. It's very encouraging to finish the way we did this season," Wyoming head coach Mark Branch said.

Hernandez walked off the mat for the final time in his collegiate career as a winner, after he defeated Oklahoma State's Blake Rosholt in a 7-4 decision in the 197-pound seventh/eighth-place match. He won four matches over three days and was an All-American for the second time, finishing sixth in 2012. Hernandez has won 75 matches over the last two seasons, losing just 11 times.

"He had a great career with us, especially his last two years," Branch said. "He wanted to walk off that mat for the last time with his hand raised. It was important and inspiring. He was wrestling against a guy who was wrestling with a lot of motivation, against a guy who beat him the last time they met.

"That was a good performance. I know he put everything into it. He knew it was his last match and he was going to put everything he had out there. I'm really proud of him."

Sophomore Tyler Cox finished eighth at 125 pounds, suffering a defeat at the hands of Minnesota's David Thorn in the seventh/eighth-place match. Thorn put Cox to his back and secured the pin in the first period. But Cox still had a great season, going 35-11 and leading the Pokes in season wins, along with earning his first All-America honor.

"Cox got caught in a crazy move. The mentality today of a lot of the guys in these matches is 'I'm going for it or I'm going to get pinned.' Unfortunately, we were on the backside of that. That can't take away from the great tournament Tyler had," Branch said.

It was a successful finale for a team that began the season with uncertainty in several areas.

"You're going to walk away feeling like you could've always done a little bit better. We can look at it that way, but this is a time to really look and celebrate a great finish from these guys," Branch said. "They faced a lot of adversity this year. Returning an All-American is always exciting. I am looking at it as ending the season on a high note and looking forward to the start of 2014."

UW results

12th-seed Tyler Cox, 125 pounds (4-3), All-American, 8th place

Championship first round: Cox maj. dec. Nick Soto (Chattanooga), 14-2
Championship second round: Dominic Parisi (Appalachian State) dec. Cox, 5-4
Consolation second round: Cox dec. 11th-seed Nikko Triggas (Ohio State), 9-4

Consolation third round: Cox dec. Eddie Klimara (Oklahoma State), 13-7

Consolation fourth round: Cox maj. dec. seventh-seed Nathan Krassier (North Carolina), 19-7

Consolation quarterfinals: Ninth-seeded Trent Sprenkle (North Dakota State) dec. Cox, 6-2

Seventh/eighth-place match: David Thorn (Minnesota) fall (1:17) Cox

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