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March 23, 2010 3:27 am

A good season, despite disappointing end

Written by Tribune Staff

The wrestling season didn't end the way the Powell Panthers wanted it to, but for Coach Nathan Urbach and his team, there were plenty of highlights to make it a stellar season on the mat, despite missing out on the state team championship by a single point.

“It was a tough, tough loss,” said Urbach. “The kids wrestled really well and set a team record for most points in a state tournament.”

There were plenty of other highlights for the Panthers during the season. They won their own invitational to begin the year, and followed up by winning a dual meet tournament in Worland.

During the season, they finished third in a multi-state meet in Miles City, Mont. and took another third in the biggest Wyoming tournament, the Ron Thon in Riverton, where they took on the top schools in all classes, including most of the 4A schools.

“Placing third at the Ron Thon was a big highlight,” Urbach said. “It's the first time in a long time Powell has brought home a trophy from the premier tournament for Wyoming High School Wrestling.”

In dual meet action, they lost only twice, to Montana powers Bozeman and Belgrade. Among their wins were defeats of Douglas, the top team in the east region and 3A state champion and Greybull/Riverside, the state 2A champion.

Individually, twelve Panthers reached the finals in the regional tournament. Eight of them won championships, and along with the four second-place finishers, seven more finished in the top four, and Powell took a contingent of 22 wrestlers to Casper for the state finals.

Twelve wrestlers came home from Casper with medals, including state champions Colt Nix, Randy Andrews and Auston Carter, who finished his career by winning his fourth, the first Powell wrestler ever to do so.

Still, there was that one-point loss that tempered the individual accomplishments, according to Nix.

“I knew in my head that I had worked hard and deserved to win the championship,” Nix said. “But in the end it was hard to enjoy it. It was a rough way to end the season.”

For Urbach, though, the loss didn't detract from what his team had accomplished during the season.

“I thought we got much better throughout the year,” Urbach said. “A ton of individual and team records were recorded by this team.”

Looking ahead to next year, the Panthers will lose five state medalists to graduation, Carter, second-place finishers Trent Gillett, Cole Cary, Monte Nickles and Joe Lujan, and Urbach said they will be missed.

“I will miss this class of kids,” Urbach said.”They were a ton of fun to be around and tough competitors on the mat.”

A solid core of wrestlers returns though, led by Nix and sophomore Andrews. Also returning will be Olie Olson, a champion his freshman year and third place finisher this year, state finalists Jessee Craig and Jimmy Seckman and third-place winners Robert Friday and Waylon Bays, both sophomores.

Dylan Rood, Charles Wittick, Drew Feller, Clay Saldana, Mike Mundy, Danny Harris, Randy Bullinger and Trevor Griffeth all will return with state tournament experience under their belts as well.

“We should be strong again next year with eight returning medalists and a good eighth-grade class coming in. A lot of it depends on the work put in after the season,” Urbach said, adding he was proud of his team and appreciated the support of their parents throughout the season, and credited his assistant coaches Zach Coombs and Steve Martin for their work during the season as well.