Branch strengthens wrestling roster with transfers and late signees

LARAMIE, WY (4-6-24) – University of Wyoming wrestling head coach Mark Tak announced half a dozen signatories on Tuesday. Three transfers and a trio of high school seniors will join the Cowboys ahead of the 2024-2025 season.

A few of the transfer signings competed in the NCAA championships this past season. Additionally, two of the high school students who competed won individual state titles this past year.

Below you will find a list of signatories.

Jared Hill (Oklahoma)

Hill is a 157-pounder who spent his first three seasons at the University of Oklahoma. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

“Jared obviously has experience in the Big 12 and at the NCAA championships, but he wants to be an All-American and wants to develop here and make that happen,” Branch said. “Not only will he strengthen our lineup, but he will also play a key role in strengthening and developing the guys in our room. I’m excited to see his impact.”

Hill has qualified for the NCAA Championships each of the past two seasons, posting a combined record of 1-4 once there. He finished sixth at both the 2023 and 2024 Big 12 tournaments, and his most recent conference tournament upset No. 1 in the quarterfinals. Hill has a career record of 38-30.

Hill is from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, where he attended Broken Arrow High School. He was part of two team state titles and claimed one individual championship.

Sam Mitchell (buffalo)

Mitchell is a heavyweight who spent his first five seasons at the University at Buffalo. He has one year of eligibility remaining.

“Sam is a great kid and I think he will play a key role in the culture of our team,” Branch said. “He will give us depth at the higher weights and will be very versatile for us. This is his senior year and we expect him to go out with a bang.”

Mitchell qualified for his first NCAA Championships this past season while competing at 197 pounds and going 1-2. He finished second at the MAC tournament in 2024, a year after finishing third. Mitchell has a career record of 66-44.

Mitchell is from Marshfield, Wisconsin, where he attended Marshfield High School. While there, he claimed an individual state title as a senior.

Brant Whitaker (Missouri)

Whitaker is a 165-pounder who has made stops at NC State and Missouri. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

“We recruited Brant out of high school and we really liked him,” Branch said. “He’s a guy who can compete for us at a few weights, and he’ll be a strong competitor looking to fight his way into the lineup.”

Whitaker served in a reserve role at Missouri in recent seasons. He has compiled a career record of 20-12.

Whitaker is from Boonville, Missouri, where he attended Boonville High School and Father Tolton Catholic High School. He won three individual state titles, one at Boonville and the last two at Father Tolton.

Antonio Avila (Gillette, WY)

Avila is a 141-pounder from the northeastern part of the state. He is the fifth Thunder Basin High School graduate currently on the Pokes’ roster.

“Antonio is the cream of the crop here in Wyoming,” Branch said. “He has been in our camps for years and he is so proud of the Brown and Gold. We really love the prospect of what he can do as a wrestler for his home state.”

Avila recently closed the book on an illustrious prep career. He claimed an individual state title each of his four seasons as a Bolt and helped his team capture a team championship as a senior.

Christian Herrera (Bakersfield, California)

Herrera is a 149-pounder from California’s Central Valley. He attended Bakersfield High School.

“Christian keeps our bond with California strong,” Branch said. “He did well in one of the heaviest weights in one of the toughest states, and I think he has a huge advantage developing.”

Herrera qualified for the state tournament this past season. He won a few matches before bowing out in the quarterfinals.

West Hoffschneider (Castle Rock, Colorado)

Hoffschneider is a 197-pounder from the Denver area. He attended Ponderosa High School.

“Westen is a tough kid whose dad played football and wrestled here,” Branch said. “He’s a strong, solid topweight and he brings a great work ethic to our program. He will push our guys to their limits, and we need that toughness in the room.”

Hoffschneider claimed a 5A individual state championship this past year. He also has a second and third place finish at the state tournament.

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