University of Wyoming sophomore Montorie Bridges finished second Sunday on the final day of the Big 12 Wrestling Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the Cowboys finished seventh in the team standings.
Bridges was the only Cowboy to make the finals in the meet with four wrestlers earning automatic NCAA bids. At-large bids will be announced by the NCAA today.
“It’s a tough tournament, and we just didn’t wrestle tough enough,” Cowboys coach Mark Branch said in a UW release. “We had a couple of matches where it seemed like our opponents wanted it more, especially (Sunday) when you’re wrestling for a guaranteed spot. We’ve talked about this being a young team, but that’s really just an excuse if you let it be one. We’ve wrestled better than that.”
Other Cowboys to earn NCAA spots were Sam Turner, Branson Ashworth and Brian Andrews.
UW scored 58 points to place seventh, with Oklahoma State winning the team title.
Bridges lost a close 4-2 decision to Oklahoma State’s Dalton Fix in 133-pound final.
Fix opened with a 2-1 lead on a takedown with 30 seconds to go in the first period. Fix was then called for locking hands to give Bridges a point. He opened the second with an escape to lead 3-1. Starting on the bottom in the third period, Bridges couldn’t escape Fix for the first 90 seconds. Bridges appeared to get a reversal with 30 seconds left, but was ruled off the edge of the mat. Bridges escaped in the final seconds for the final score.
“I thought Montorie wrestled as well as he has all year, and that’s good to see this time of year,” Branch said.
Both Ashworth and Andrews finished fourth to earn automatic qualifying spots.
Ashworth, the top seed at 165 pounds, rallied from a semifinal loss Saturday to beat OSU’s Joe Smith 4-2 in a consolation semifinal Sunday before losing to No. 3 seed Bryce Steiert of Northern Iowa in the third-place match.
Andrews beat No. 3 seed Gannon Gremmel of Iowa State in the consolation semifinals. Andrews held a 4-3 lead over Utah Valley’s Tate Orndorff in the third-place match, but an Orndorff reversal with 10 seconds to go gave the USU wrestler a 5-4 win.
After finishing seventh at 141 pounds, Sam Turner wrestled West Virginia’s Caleb Rea in a sixth-place challenge match for an NCAA qualification. Turner had pinned Rea in the first round of the tournament, and the challenge match went the same way, with Turner pinning Rea in under two minutes to claim his second career NCAA appearance.
Cowboys freshmen Tate Samuelson and Hayden Hastings came up short of advancing to the NCAA meet, finishing sixth at 184 and 174, respectively.
At 149 pounds, UW sophomore Jaron Jensen finished eighth despite coming into the weekend unseeded.