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Joe LeBlanc, a Meeker High School graduate and currently a senior at the University of Wyoming, has begun his quest for the NCAA Division I wrestling title undefeated in seven matches.
LeBlanc, a three-time all-American for the Cowboys, won three matches and the Cowboy Open in the 184-pound division and won three more the following weekend in Kearney, Neb., where he was also voted the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
He is currently ranked fourth in the nation at 184 pounds by Intermat College Rankings. After being invited for the second year to compete in the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) All-Star Classic, he caught a flight from Nebraska to Tempe, Ariz. The event, a showcase of some of the nation’s best collegiate wrestlers, featured three NCAA champions and 19 All-Americans in the 10 matches.
LeBlanc wrestled Ben Bennett, ranked No. 8 in the nation from Central Mich., and used an impressive takedown with less than 15 seconds left in the match to win 5-4. LeBlanc is in what is arguably the toughest weight class in the country, with eight All-Americans returning, including the national champ, Quinten Wright of Penn State.
“I’m excited to be back in competition,” LeBlanc said via telephone. “I put in a lot of work this summer, I’m in a really tough weight and I love it.”
Wyoming junior Kasey Garnhart, who has local ties to Meeker, including helping LeBlanc with a wrestling clinic for local wrestlers, won the Elite tournament title at 125 pounds in Nebraska and was named Co-Western Wrestling Conference Wrestlers of the Week after winning the Nebraska-Kearney Holiday Inn Open.