LARAMIE — The second NCAA wrestling coaches’ panel and first RPI rankings of the season were released on Thursday, with eight Cowboys appearing in the coaches’ panel rankings and nine appearing in the RPI. The final rankings will be tools used as part of the selection process to determine qualifiers and seeding for the 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 21-23 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
Wrestlers in each weight class are measured by winning percentage, RPI and coaches’ rankings to earn allocation spots for their qualifying tournaments for the championships. The coaches’ rankings are compiled by a vote of coaches representing each qualifying tournament. The RPI is calculated based on results vs. Division I wrestlers and rankings only include wrestlers that have a minimum of 17 results vs. Division I opponents.
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At 125 pounds, junior Cole Verner comes in at No. 15 in the RPI and No. 18 in the coaches’ panel rankings. Verner is 20-11 on the year with four falls and has won six of his last seven bouts. He’s knocked off a pair of top-10 ranked opponents this season.
Montorie Bridges stands at No. 12 in the coaches’ panel and No. 13 in the RPI at 133 pounds. Standing at 26-7 overall for the season, Bridges has been on fire of late, winning 12 in a row and 15 of his 18 dual starts for the Pokes. He’s 7-4 against ranked opponents as a sophomore with six major decisions to lead the team.
Redshirt sophomore 141-pounder Sam Turner is No. 18 in the coaches’ rankings and No. 14 in the initial RPI. A winner of six-straight matches, Turner is 24-10 overall on the year, and 12-5 in dual starts. He has racked up four wins against ranked foes, along with three falls, two techs and two majors.
At 149 pounds, Jaron Jensen comes in at No. 33 in the first RPI ranking of the season. Jensen has compiled 17 victories this season with seven dual victories.
Senior Branson Ashworth is the highest-ranked Poke in the coaches’ panel rankings at No. 8, while coming in at No. 11 in the RPI at 165. With nine ranked victories, Ashworth has been a consistent force for the Cowboys, winning 29 of his 32 matches, including all 19 of his dual starts. Ashworth is on a tear of late, winning 15 in a row. Additionally, 16 of his 29 wins have come with bonus points—including 10 tech falls.
At 174 pounds, Hayden Hastings is slotted at No. 23 in the coaches’ rankings and No. 19 in the RPI. Coming off his third top-12 win of the season, Hastings has strung together a strong freshman season, going 22-10 overall and 10-4 in dual matches. The Sheridan, Wyo., native has won nine of his last 10.
Coming in at No. 19 in the coaches’ panel ranking, Tate Samuelson is ranked No. 6 in the first RPI of the season at 184. Having gone 20-4 overall during his true freshman season, Samuelson has made some noise at 184 pounds. With a ranked win to his credit and seven wins in eight dual starts, Samuelson has strung together eight victories in his last nine bouts.
Cale Davidson is slotted at No. 19 in the second coaches’ panel ranking and No. 22 in the RPI. Davidson is 22-12 on the year with 10 dual wins to his credit despite facing some of the top 197 pounders in the nation during his redshirt freshman season. The Cowboy has a pair of ranked wins under his belt as well.
Finally, heavyweight Brian Andrews is ranked No. 23 in the coaches’ rankings and No. 11 in the RPI. Andrews has brought a strong presence to the heavyweight position this season, going 28-8 overall and winning 15 of his 19 dual appearances. The Grapevine, Texas, native has picked up a couple of ranked wins as a sophomore, along with four falls.
The Cowboys will wrap up the dual season on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Northern Colorado.
Cowboys in the Coaches’ Panel Rankings
125 – Cole Verner – No. 18
133 – Montorie Bridges – No. 12
141 – Sam Turner – No. 18
165 – Branson Ashworth – No. 8
174 – Hayden Hastings – No. 23
184 – Tate Samuelson – No. 19
197 – Cale Davidson – No. 19
HWT – Brian Andrews – No. 23
Cowboys in the RPI Rankings
125 – Cole Verner – No. 15
133 – Montorie Bridges – No. 13
141 – Sam Turner – No. 14
149 – Jaron Jensen – No. 33
165 – Branson Ashworth – No. 11
174 – Hayden Hastings – No. 19
184 – Tate Samuelson – No. 6
197 – Cale Davidson – No. 22
HWT – Brian Andrews – No. 11