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December 22, 2009 3:42 am

Panthers win Battle of the Big Horns

Written by Tribune Staff

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Trent Gillett gives the official a look as he nears a pin over his Sheridan opponent in the semi-finals of the Battle of the Big Horns in Worland Saturday morning. Gillette was trailing 3-0 late in the match when he turned his opponent and scored the pin in the final seconds of the bout. Tribune photo by Don Amend

A team championship, six wrestlers competing for best of the best, and an outstanding wrestler award added up to a good weekend for the Powell Panther wrestlers last week.

Wrestling in the Battle of the Big Horns at Worland, the Panthers dominated their opponents in pool competition with three big wins, then stormed through Saturday's bracket competition to take the tournament championship with a win over conference rival Worland.

Monte Nickles and Jessee Craig both swept through the tournament undefeated and wrestled in the “Best of the Best” round, where both scored first-period pins. Nickles was named the outstanding wrestler in the upper weights for his performance.

Four other Panthers wrestled for Best of the Best, including Cole Kary, who, as a JV was plugged into the Lander Tigers lineup for the tournament to fill an open weight. Dylan Rood, Trent Gillett and Joe Lujan joined Kary in the round, but all four were defeated.

The Panthers began Friday afternoon by routing Jackson, the Casper Natrona JVs and Riverton to earn a top seed in the bracket on Saturday. In the quarterfinals they virtually shut out the Cody Broncs, allowing only six points for a forfeit at heavyweight.

In the semi-finals, Powell took on another team of Broncs, this time from Sheridan, and quickly jumped out to a lead with decisions by Luke Wozney and Zack Thiel and a forfeit to Jessee Craig. Olie Olson lost a close match and Randy Andrews a major decision, but a Sheridan forfeit to Colt Nix kept the Panthers comfortably in the lead, and, except for the forfeit at heavyweight, the Panthers didn't lose another bout. Jim Seckman scored a decision and Gillett, Auston Carter, Nickles, Devin Jordan, Joe Lujan and Dylan Rood all won by fall to end the match with a 58-13 win.

For a while, it looked a bit shaky for the Panthers in the championship against conference rival Worland in the Battle of the Big Horns. Craig battled Worland's Trevor Lange for the full six minutes at 119 before Craig pulled out an 8-6 win, but then the power part of the Warriors lineup produced three straight pins.

Thiel fell to Jared Leithead at 125, and Warrior brothers Jordan and Matt Osbon pinned Olie Olson and Colt Nix, and the Warriors were up 18-3.

Andrews stopped the Warrior streak with a first-period pin of Brad Eherts, though, Gillett ended his bout against Jeff Redland early in the third period and Carter put the Panthers back in front 20-18 with a technical fall. Nickles, Jordan, and Lujan all won by pin before Worland scored again with a forfeit at heavyweight. Dylan Rood scored a technical fall over Ty Wilks of Lander, who was filling a hole in the Worland lineup, before Luke Wozney faced the Warriors' Jay Stine and was pinned, and the Panthers finished with a 52-30 win and the team trophy.

“It was a good tournament for us,” said coach Nathan Urbach, “Especially beating Worland. They're a tough team, especially in the lighter weights, so that's a big win.”

The Panthers will not break for the holidays, but will return to the mat immediately after the new year begins when they travel to Bozeman for another big interstate competition on Jan. 2.