Bears land three wrestlers on WWC postseason honor teams
By SCOTT WARD
OREM, Utah -- The Western Wrestling Conference announced this week its postseason honor teams for the 2011-12 season, and Northern Colorado's Nick Bayer, Gabe Burak and Casey Cruz all earned second team spots at their respective weight classes.
The 30 wrestlers honored by the league earned their spots on the respective teams with their finishes at the 2012 WWC Championships/NCAA West Regional on March 4 in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
All seven WWC schools competed at the open championship March 4 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and Burak, the nation's 10th-ranked grappler at 165 pounds, joined Cruz (141) and Bayer (197) in advancing all the way to their weight-calss championship matches.
Burak, who finished 2-1 at the championship—he lost 8-0 to Wyoming's All-WWC First Team honoree Shane Onufer in the first-place match—was the only Bear to earn an automatci qualification to this year's NCAA Championships, which will be held Thursday to Saturday, March 15 to 17, at Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
His automatic qualification will give Northern Colorado representation at the NCAA Championships for the sixth straight year.
Cruz finished second at 141 pounds at the WWC Championships after losing 2-1 in overtime to Northern Iowa's All-WWC First Team honoree Levi Wolfensperger in his first-place match.
Bayer lost 12-4 to Wyoming's All-WWC First Team honoree Alfonso Hernandez in his title match.
Six of the 10 members named to the All-WWC First Team this week were repeat winners from one of the three all conference squads in years past. The four newcomers to earn first team honors were North Dakota State's Trent Sprenkle (125), and Northern Iowa's Joe Colon (133), Levi Wolfensperger (141) and Blayne Beale (285).
Twelve of the 30 student-athletes honored are multi-year All-WCC selections.
The Western Wrestling Conference is comprised of seven schools, including Air Force Academy, North Dakota State, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, South Dakota State, Utah Valley and Wyoming.
125 - Trent Sprenkle (NDSU), Jr., Billings, Mont. (Billings HS)
133 - Joe Colon (UNI), RSo., Clear Lake, Iowa (Clear Lake HS)
141 - Levi Wolfensperger (UNI) RFr., Denver, Iowa (Denver HS)
149 - Cole VonOhlen (AFA), Jr., Jackson, Minn. (Jackson County Central HS)**
157 - Steven Monk (NDSU), So., Wausau, Wis. (Wausau West HS)*
165 - Shane Onufer (Wyoming), Sr., Auburn, Wash. (Auburn HS)***
174 - Pat Martinez (Wyoming), So., Hemet, Calif. (Temecula Valley HS)*
184 - Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming), Sr., Meeker, Colo. (Meeker HS)***
197 - Alfonso Hernandez (Wyoming), RJr., Blackfoot, Idaho (Blackfoot HS)**
285 - Blayne Beale (UNI), Jr., Davenport, Iowa (Davenport West HS)
125 - Michael Martinez (Wyoming), Sr., Pagosa Springs, Colo. (Pagosa Springs HS)***
133 - Zach Zehner (Wyoming), RFr., Tomahawk, Wis. (Tomahawk HS)
141 - Casey Cruz (UNC), Sr., Colorado Springs, Colo. (Wasson HS)*
149 - Josh Wilson (UVU), Jr., Morgan, Utah (Morgan HS)
157 - David Bonin (UNI), Jr., Broussard, La. (Comeaux HS)**
165 - Gabe Burak (UNC), Sr., Colorado Springs, Colo. (Coronado HS)
174 - Clayton Gable (AFA), Jr., Dallastown, Pa. (Dallastown Area HS)*
184 - Ryan Loder (UNI), Sr., Granite Bay, Calif. (Granite Bay HS)*
197 - Nick Bayer (UNC), So., Maple Valley, Wash. (Tahoma HS)
285 - L.J. Helbig (Wyoming), Jr., Mason, Mich. (Mason HS)**
125 - Greg Rinker (AFA), So., Northampton, Pa. (Northampton HS)
133 - Tyler Untrauer (AFA), Sr., Midwest City, Okla. (Midwest City HS)
141 - Avery Garner (UVU), So., Boise, Idaho (Centennial HS)
149 - Mark Erickson (NDSU), Jr., Roseau, Minn. (Roseau HS)
157 - Josh Kreimier (AFA), So., Fort Collins, Colo. (Loveland HS)
165 - Ethan Smith (UVU), RFr., Midway, Utah (Wasatch HS)
174 - Tyler Johnson (NDSU), Sr., Bismarck, N.D. (Bismarck HS)
184 - Mac Stoll (NDSU), Jr., Dent, Minn. (Perham HS)
197 - Josh Mohr (AFA), Jr., Pewaukee, Wis. (Pewaukee HS)
285 - Evan Knutson (NDSU), Fr., Wausau, Wis., (Wausau West HS)
** - denotes three-time honoree
*** - denotes four-time honoree