Bryce Meredith coming back to Laramie and finishing his wrestling career left a lasting mark on the Wyoming wrestling program, and the state of Wyoming. Meredith finished his Cowboy wrestling career as one of the most decorated wrestlers in Wyoming history. Saturday night he finished his legacy with his third straight time being an All-American, and was a runner-up for the NCAA championship at 141 pounds.
Meredith earned his way into the final for the second time in three years against Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis. The freshman, a four time state champion from New York dominated his way into the finals to face Cheyenne’s Meredith, a four time Wyoming champion. Diakomihalis was the only blemish on Meredith’s record this season, a loss in Las Vegas.
The final started off as a back and forth with both wrestlers testing the water. Diakomihalis got on the board first in the second period with a takedown of Meredith. After Meredith escaped he cut the lead in half at 2-1. At the start of the third period Meredith started down and escaped and scored a takedown for a 4-2 lead. Meredith with the lead late in the third period was riding when Diakomihalis scored an escape, then a scramble turned into a cradle that gave the freshman two nearfall points. Diakomihalis went on to win 7-4 to win his first championship, likely of many in his career.
As for Meredith he will leave Wyoming as one of four wrestlers to be a three time All-American joining Dick Ballinger, Reese Andy, and Joe LeBlanc. Meredith has 94 wins in his Cowboy career. He was the first Cowboy to win a Big 12 championship. Meredith also had 11 career wins at the NCAA tournament, tied for third most among Cowboy wrestlers. Earlier this season, Meredith ended the winning streak of defending national champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State, then a few weeks later defeated the #1 wrestler in the country at 133 pounds, Seth Gross of South Dakota State in a matchup in Brookings.
One other Cowboy brought home All-American honors and that was redshirt freshman Montorie Bridges at 133 pounds. Bridges captured eighth place. Bridges finished the tournament with a 3-3 record. In the 7th place match he was defeated by Scott Parker of Lehigh. In the quarterfinals Bridges lost a 6-3 decision to eventual champion Seth Gross of SDSU.
Chaz Polson, Branson Ashworth, and Archie Colgan all racked up at least one win for the Cowboys over the course of the tournament. Sam Turner posted a 0-2 record after dropping two tough matches. Overall as a team the Cowboys finished in 18th, tied with North Carolina. Penn State won the team championship after absolutely dominating the championship around, pulling ahead of Ohio State who finished second. Iowa, Michigan, NC State rounded out the top five.
The Cowboys will lose Archie Colgan, Meredith, Luke Paine, Chaz Polson, Kyle Pope, and Ronnie Stevens to graduation, but the future of the Pokes seems to be bright with a returning All-American being on the roster and the leadership of Branson Ashworth. Needless to say, this group of seniors left a lasting impression on the University and the Wyoming wrestling program.