2019 Wyoming Cowboy Open

Five Storylines To Follow At The 2019 Cowboy Open

Five Storylines To Follow At The 2019 Cowboy Open

We take a look at the top 5 reasons we're excited about at the Cowboy Open this weekend and throw in a list of guys to watch.

Oct 30, 2019 by David Bray
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Every year, the Cowboy Open is part of an exciting slate of college wrestling opening weekend events.

Watch the Cowboy Open LIVE on FloWrestling

Saturday Nov 2 | 9:00 AM ET

1) Andrew Alirez’s First College Competition

True freshman Andrew Alirez seems like a superstar in the making for the UNC Bears. As a senior in high school, he made his senior-level debut in freestyle and has already racked up an impressive hit-list including two-time NCAA champion Dean Heil. Two questions remain about Alirez: First, will his freestyle success translate against college folkstylers? Second, will he redshirt this year or jump right into the lineup? We could start to get answers to those questions this weekend.

Check out his impressive win over Dean Heil at the Dave Schultz Memorial International:

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2) A New Look for Northern Colorado

While the aforementioned Alirez is a major hammer, he’s only one cog in the machine that Troy Nickerson and company are building in Greely. Northern Colorado just pulled in the strongest recruiting class in program history, the No. 10 recruiting class in the country according to our recruiting class rankings. And that was before the transfer of three-time NCAA qualifier Austin Matthews. This will be our first look at an intriguing fresh set of Bears.

3) Wyoming’s 2019-20 Lineup

Seven Wyoming Cowboys are in the preseason rankings including All-American Montorie Bridges at 133 and NCAA qualifiers Cole Verner (125), Sam Turner (141), Hayden Hastings (174), Tate Samuelson (184), and Brian Andrews (285). The Cowboy Open offers a chance to see how each of these guys looks at the start of the year but should also shed some light on the roster battles at 149, 157, and 165.

4) Elite Accelerator Program Studs

The Cowboy Open is right up the road from the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. In the past, coach Kevin Jackson has brought a group of young hammers to test themselves against college competition. It's always interesting to see how wrestlers who are either in high school or fresh out of high school will perform against NCAA competition. Last year’s EAP group at the Cowboy Open included Junior World medalists Aaron Brooks and Gabe Tagg. This year's group could include Josh Saunders, Jacob Moran, Julian Tagg, and Rocky Elam.

Check out Aaron Brooks’ 2018 Cowboy Open championship at 184:

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5) International flavor

One of the surprises at the Cowboy Open each of the last few years has been finding out which international studs have found homes on Junior College rosters. In 2017, Northwest College's Nodir Safarov, a long-time 57kg starter for Uzbekistan, put on a highlight reel against the field at 125. Last year, among others, we saw Northwest Kansas Technical College's Enkhbold Sukhbaatar, a Mongolian Cadet World teamer, enter the field. Hopefully we'll see more international guys in the mix this year.

Check out Safarov's finals match from 2017:

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Bonus: Arena Alert Tips

In a large, early-season open tournament like the Cowboy Open, it can be hard to know which of the 10 mats to focus on, but don't worry, there's a solution to this problem. On Saturday morning, pour yourself a cup of coffee, scroll through the brackets on FloArena, and set arena alerts for your favorite wrestlers. While we won't know everyone who's registered until brackets officially come out, we have a pretty good idea of the field based on previous years' entries. Here are a few ranked wrestlers, exciting newcomers, or high school hammers you can't miss:

125 Cole Verner, Wyoming (#14)

125 Sidney Flores, Air Force (#21)

125 Mosha Schwartz, Northern Colorado

125 Julian Tagg, EAP

125 Jacob Moran, EAP

133 Montorie Bridges, Wyoming (#7)

141 Sam Turner, Wyoming (#12)

141 Gabe Tagg, North Carolina

149 Andrew Alirez, Northern Colorado

149 Alec Opsal, Air Force (#25)

149 Josh Saunders, EAP

165 Austin Matthews, Northern Colorado (#14)

174 Hayden Hastings, Wyoming (#15)

184 Tate Samuelson, Wyoming (#18)

197 Rocky Elam, EAP

197 Cale Davidson, Wyoming (#22)

197 Jacob Seely, Northern Colorado

285 Brian Andrews, Wyoming (#15)