LARAMIE – Jaron Jensen could sense Sunday’s wrestling dual between No. 11-ranked University of Wyoming and Oregon State was coming down to his final match.
With the dual starting at 157 pounds, the Cowboys’ sophomore 149-pounder watched as the Cowboys battled the Beavers to a three-point lead heading into his bout with Josh Reyes.
A win and the Cowboys walk away victorious. A loss and the dual would be decided by criteria. A bonus-point loss and the Cowboys lose.
No pressure, right?
Jensen responded for the Cowboys, getting a takedown with 29 seconds remaining in the third period to take the lead, then riding out Reyes for the final 22 seconds for a 4-3 win and a 22-16 UW victory.
“I knew it was coming down to me, and I had to secure it,” Jensen said. “You get into your head if you put too much pressure on yourself. I’ve been doing this since I was four, so I just went out to wrestle to win.”
Sunday’s dual featured a pin and major decision win by each team as the Cowboys (10-3 overall) won six of the 10 matches.
UW took a 12-7 lead on a pin by senior 165-pounder Brandon Ashworth in 2 minutes, 10 seconds and decision wins by true freshman Tate Samuelson at 184 and 19th-ranked redshirt freshman Cale Davidson at 197.
Oregon State (1-4) won the next two matches behind fourth-ranked heavyweight Amar Dhesi and Ronnie Bresser, who is No. 3 at 125 pounds. Breeser pinned 17th-ranked Cole Verner and the Beavers led 16-12 with three matches remaining.
UW redshirt sophomore Montorie Bridges – who is the nation’s No. 12-ranked 133-pounder – tied the dual by beating Keegan Calkins by a 13-5 major decision score. No. 12 Sam Turner then gave the Cowboys a three-point lead with a 9-3 win at 141 pounds.
Jensen faced OSU senior Josh Reyes, who was 7-3 this season while recovering from a knee injury.
With the wrestlers tied 2-2 after two periods, Reyes recorded an escape early in the third for a 3-2 advantage. Jensen spent the rest of the period trying to find his moment to attack and it came with less than a minute left.
Jensen got in on a double-leg takedown and scored with 29 seconds remaining. After a stoppage, Jensen still had to ride out Reyes for 22 seconds or the two would go into overtime.
“When I walked back for the last 20-second ride everyone was pounding their feet on the stands, and that was super cool,” Jensen said. “It was intense. It was for the team and I didn’t want to be in overtime. I got behind him and stayed behind his arms and locked it out.”
Jensen has been in and out of the lineup at 149 and Cowboys coach Mark Branch hopes Sunday’s win will give the South Jordan, Utah, product some confidence.
“Obviously when you go out and win the dual for the team, it gives you a positive feeling and sometimes when you’ve been struggling it’s hard to find those positive feelings,” Branch said. “He’ll walk away feeling good and he deserves to.
“He has been training hard and maybe he’ll come back this week with a different attitude. A win like that can do a lot for him if he wants it to.”
Still, Branch wasn’t totally pleased with the effort of his team.
“We spend a lot of time finishing our takedowns and Cale (Davidson) missed three or four and should have had a match where he should have gotten bonus points. Hayden (Hastings) doesn’t finish his takedowns and Dewey (Krueger) doesn’t finish.
“Then you see Montorie (Bridges) show you how to finish a single leg, and even (Jensen) there at the end.”
UW continues its six-dual home stand by hosting Air Force in a Big 12 dual at 7 p.m. Friday.
Scott Nulph is the WyoSports assistant editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 307-755-3324. Follow him on Twitter at @ScottNulph.