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Lander the latest to fall against PHS

In sports, team rankings are often hotly debated. Thanks to the Powell High School Panthers' performance over a week-long time span, they left no doubt who is Class 3A's top team at this point in the season.

Last Thursday, the top-ranked Panthers defeated No. 4 Lander 42-27 in a dual meet at LHS. The victory came on the heels of a stellar showing in the Buffalo Bison Duals Jan. 23-24, where the Panthers' wins included decisions over No. 2 Douglas, No. 3 Wheatland and No. 5 Torrington. But don't expect the Panthers to rest on their success in recent duals.

“It's pretty easy to stay humble,” said PHS head coach Nate Urbach. “We don't have anybody who is undefeated, so that lets the guys know there are still things they can do to get better. We're still working on consistency, and we're still trying to improve. We've had some good wins lately, but like I told our guys, when it really matters is at the end of the season.”

Against Lander, the Panthers won eight of the 13 matches that were settled on the mat. One forfeit victory was claimed, and it went in Lander's favor in the heavyweight division.

Panthers emerging victorious against the Tigers were Randy Andrews (No. 3 at 130), Cory Eden (No. 3 at 135), Auston Carter (No. 1 at 140), Cole Kary (No. 2 at 145), Trevor Donarski (No. 1 at 152), Monte Nickles (No. 5 at 189), Tyler Showalter (No. 6 at 215) and Olie Olson (No. 2 at 112).

Of PHS's victories, three came against ranked wrestlers. Andrews, a freshman, defeated second-ranked Brodie Bullington 5-4, and Eden claimed a 9-5 decision over fourth-ranked Chris Pitt. At 112, Olson pinned fifth-ranked Dillon Von Rein.

Urbach also noted that Carter, Kary, Donarski, Nickles and Showalter all won by pinning their opponents.

At 119, PHS's Jessee Craig returned to the mat after having been sidelined with a broken collarbone since the Powell Invite in early December. Craig's return resulted in a close matchup, but the Panther sophomore came out on the short end of a 2-1 outcome.

“Jessee lost to a tough kid,” Urbach said. “He's been out of the lineup for about two months, so he was a little rusty. But I was very pleased that he was able to return to the mat. He fills a big spot for us (at 119), and I think we've got enough time to get him to peak form.”

Third-ranked Colt Nix, wrestling at 125 for the Panthers, also sustained a loss in his bout. Nix was outscored 7-1 by fourth-ranked Jake Budd.

In a matchup of top-ranked wrestlers at 160, No. 2 Cody Kalberer was pinned by Lander's Brett Klopp, who currently holds Class 3A's No. 1 spot.

At 171, Panther wrestler Joe Lujan suffered a 9-5 setback to fifth-ranked Colton Marrow. Though his bout went into the scorebook as a loss, Lujan's performance drew high praise from his coach. For Lujan, his matchup was another step forward in his battle to overcome a major knee injury which sidelined him from multiple sports last year.

“Joe's coming back from an injury, so he's been a little rusty, too,” Urbach said. “We just got him back recently, and I've been really happy with the progress he's shown. It means a lot to have a kid like that. He was dealing with an injury, but he came to me and said he wanted to wrestle once he was able. What he has done shows a lot of dedication.”

The 103-pound bout boasted the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers in the standings. In that matchup, Lander's Alex Klopp overcame Powell's Ren Utter and topped the Panther senior by registering a pin.

• Up next: The Panthers' next action is scheduled to take place Friday and Saturday when they take part in the Pepsi Invitational in Riverton. Wrestling is slated to begin at 10 a.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday.

February 03, 2009 3:45 am

PHS keeps on rolling

Panthers top Worland, Rocky Mountain

Powell High School's boys basketball team extended its winning streak to six games last week with victories over third-ranked Worland and Rocky Mountain.

The biggest win of the two, a 58-53 decision against West Conference rival Worland last Friday, was sparked by the Panthers' quick start, which translated into a 13-7 lead at the end of the first period.

“Getting off to a good start was a big key for us,” said PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand. “Worland has had a lot of success by getting ahead early. They've been able to extend those early advantages to sizable leads in a lot of cases, and we wanted to counter that.”

Throughout the second period, the Panthers (8-5 overall, 4-3 West Conference) continued to keep the tempo to their liking and stretched their advantage to 30-21.

During the late stages of the third period, however, the Warriors showed why they are ranked among Class 3A's top teams by storming back from a 10-point deficit.

“With about three minutes to go in the third, Worland really increased the pressure on us,” Hildebrand said. “When they got on that run, we didn't do as well when it came to taking care of the basketball. Because of that, we went from being up by 10 to being down by two early in the fourth period.”

By the end of the third period, Worland had cut the Panthers' lead to 37-35. After Worland pushed ahead in the final quarter, PHS senior Jordan Brown came through with a timely 3-pointer that put the Panthers back on top, 44-43. At that point, PHS began to slowly pull away from the visiting Warriors using a steal and lay-up by Brown and a consistent showing at the free-throw line. In the fourth period alone, PHS connected on 12 of 14 shots from the foul line. For the game, the Panthers hit 13 of 15 free throws.

“It was a big win for us,” Hildebrand said. “For the most part, we controlled the tempo, and we were able to take them out of their style of play. We did pretty well when it came to being patient with the ball and taking advantage of their aggressive style of play.”

Leading the charge for PHS was Brown, who finished with a career-high 20 points. The senior was two of two from 3-point range and hit all four of his shots from two-point land. At the free-throw line, Brown connected on six of eight attempts. He also finished with three assists, five steals and three blocked shots.

The Panthers got double-digit scoring efforts from Galen Mills (11 points), Matt McArthur (11) and Ryan Brandt (10).

Brandon Sullivan, Gavin Mills and Matt Kifer contributed with two points each. Hildebrand pointed out the solid shot selections made by Galen Mills and McArthur. Those two combined to hit seven of 11 from the field. They joined forces to hit five of five free throws.

The rebounding effort was paced by Brandt, who finished with 13 boards.

“Ryan's ability to come up with so many rebounds on the defensive end really made a difference,” Hildebrand said. “That was a huge key to them only getting one shot during a lot of their trips down the floor.”

The Warriors, who were held to a zero-for-11 showing from 3-point range, were led by Chantz Ramos' 18-point effort.

Robert Heyer and Adam Heessel rounded out Worland's double-digit scoring efforts with 12 and 10 points, respectively.

On Saturday, the Panthers followed up their solid effort against Worland by dismantling Rocky Mountain 57-37. In a game PHS was favored to win, Hildebrand noted his squad's ability to take care of business one night after a hard-fought effort in a key conference game.

“We spent a ton of energy the night before, and I was really pleased with the way the guys came out and played against Rocky,” Hildebrand said. “Rocky has a scrappy team, and that was another good win for us to get.”

PHS opened with a 19-9, first-period lead and held a 32-19 advantage at the intermission. In the second half, the Panthers were able to increase their lead by outscoring Rocky Mountain 14-8 in the third period and 12-10 in the fourth.

Galen Mills, one of three Panthers to turn in a double-digit scoring effort, finished with 12 points, thanks to a six-of-seven shooting performance from the field. Brandt and McArthur added 10 points each. The remainder of the scoring load was shouldered by Brown (8), Gavin Mills (7), Kifer (5), David Starcevich (3) and Sullivan (2).

Brown added a season-high eight rebounds to go along with five assists. Gavin Mills contributed with seven rebounds, a career-high seven assists and two steals. Brandt and Sullivan chipped in with five and three steals, respectively, and Kifer added three assists.

As a team, the Panthers forced 25 turnovers while committing just 15 of their own. The Panthers also combined for 24 assists to only nine for Rocky Mountain.

• Up next: The Panthers have two games scheduled this week, and both contests will be played at PHS. The first will be a conference battle against Jackson Friday at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Panthers will face West Conference foe Pinedale at 2:30 p.m.

The Yellowstone Recreations Foundation, the non-profit group behind the revitalization of Sleeping Giant Ski Area, has taken a prudent approach in its quest to reopen the resort.

Last fall, the foundation made the tough choice to not open the ski area for the 2008-09 season after all. Organizers cited a lack of funds as the primary reason for the delay. Former spokesman Garrett Growney said the last thing the community needs is for the ski area to open deep in debt.

Proposed improvements to the resort are extensive, and expensive — triple the skiable terrain, a new chair lift, a Magic Carpet lift for beginning skiers and a deck and other significant upgrades to the lodge.

Since the decision to delay the opening, the foundation, with the backing of the Park County Commission, has been successful in obtaining a $500,000 grant from the Wyoming Business Council. It's a good step forward, but there's a catch: The grant is contingent on the foundation's ability to raise nearly $800,000 in matching funds by April 30.

That's a lofty goal, especially given the short timeline. The economic downturn hasn't made fundraising any easier.

The group's aim in reopening the area is to operate a family-oriented ski area, easily accessible to the people of the Big Horn Basin — period. As a nonprofit, they're not out to make money. But the benefits of the reopening truly are significant for individuals and families, as well as businesses in the Basin.

The case could even be made that the area is every bit as important — if not more so — than Sylvan Pass in terms of economic development and winter activity on the North Fork and in surrounding communities. In early January, the Park County Commissioners, recognizing the impact of the ski area, each personally contributed $100 to the effort.

Now, as the clock ticks toward April 30, it's time for other Big Horn Basin residents to show their support for this project.

The Yellowstone Recreations Foundation is consistent in its message that people should give what they can afford — whether it's $20 or $20,000 — to revitalize Sleeping Giant.

At last count, the foundation had raised about $200,000 — still a long way from $800,000 — but with strong community support, the goal is attainable. And the quality of life in the Basin will be better for it.

February 03, 2009 3:40 am

K. Harrison (Harry) Roberts

(Dec. 10, 1917 - Jan. 28, 2009)

K. Harrison “Harry” Roberts, 91, died Wednesday, Jan. 28, in Vero Beach, Fla. He was born Dec. 10, 1917, in New York City.

Harry, known as a straight shooter and innovative thinker, moved to Wyoming in 1947 where he lived until 1986.

He was the father of five daughters and believed in service to community and country. During a lifetime that spanned more than nine decades and encompassed depression, war, and great technological evolution, Harry chose leadership positions at every turn. He was proud of his title of “rancher,” and never strayed from the values of hard work and fair play that bound him first and foremost to Wyoming — his chosen home.

Raised on Long Island, N.Y., and in Gainesville, Va., Harry graduated from Yale University in 1939 with a bachelor's of science in economics. Following graduation he joined Gulf Oil Corporation, where he worked in the Panama Canal Zone.

In 1941, with the United States on the brink of war, Harry enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He graduated second in his class from Midshipmen School and was assigned first to a sub chaser and later volunteered for submarine duty on the U.S.S. Bashaw, where he made six war patrols, serving as engineering officer, electrical officer and diving officer. At the end of the war, Harry returned to the Gulf Oil Corporation.

Before Harry reported for naval duty in the fall of 1941, he met Louise W. Littleton (Toni) at the Valley Ranch in Cody. Toni was a guest at the ranch and Harry was an employee. They married during a shore leave on Nov. 11, 1942, the day before the Air-Sea Battle of Guadalcanal.

After another short stint working for Gulf Oil Corporation after WWII, Toni and Harry loaded up a small truck and drove across the country to Wyoming where they raised five daughters, sheep and cattle on a ranch in Barnum.

While living on the D Cross Ranch in Barnum, Harry became a Barnum School Board member and later was elected president of the Wyoming School Boards Association. He was involved in numerous statewide boards and associations. In 1966, Harry was elected Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the first non-educator to serve in that position.

In 1970, Harry was the Republican candidate for the U.S. Congress, but lost his bid by 608 votes in a recount to the Democratic candidate Teno Roncalio. After the election, he went to work for True Oil Companies as executive assistant to company president. Harry also served as vice president of the Belle Forche Pipeline Company. He remained at True Oil until he retired in 1977, moving with his bride of 35 years to build a home on the South Fork. Toni Roberts died in 1985.

Building a home was only a beginning of the challenges Harry would initiate in retirement. He was co-founder and executive director of the Wyoming Heritage Foundation and the Wyoming Heritage Society. After Toni's death, Harry bought a home in Vero Beach, Fla., where he lived during the winter with his close companion, Tracy Griswold, until his death. Tracy and Harry had first met in New York City in 1937 where they became friends and discovered that life's circumstances would later offer them the opportunity to become partners for more than 20 years.

Harry returned to Wyoming for weeks each year visiting with friends and family and to offer solicited (or not) words of wisdom and encouragement to those living in the state he loved so dearly.

In addition to Tracy Griswold, Harry is survived by his five daughters, Mandy Metzger, Flagstaff, Ariz., Sheila Vidamour, St. Augustine, Fla., Susan Thomas, Casper, Joan Heron, Boulder, Colo. and Ginny Southwick, Powell; nine grandchildren and six great grandchildren. He is also survived by Tracy's daughters, Tracy Glass and Abby Stetson, Frisco, Colo., Mimi Geer, Santa Fe, N.M. and their families.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 6, at Saint Mark's Episcopal Church, Casper. A private service will be held in the Riverside Cemetery in Cody on Saturday, Feb. 7, where he will be laid to rest beside Toni in the shadow of Heart Mountain and a few stone-throws away from his beloved South Fork of the Shoshone River.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to: The Spirit Mountain Hospice House, 707 Sheridan Ave., Cody, WY 82414, The VNA Hospice House, 1110 35th Lane, Vero Beach, FL 32960, and the Craig and Susan Thomas Foundation, 2780 Olive Drive, Cheyenne, WY 82001.

February 03, 2009 3:38 am

Welding program may expand at NWC

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Welding student Jake Griffis of Lovell uses an arc welder to join two pieces of pipe at an angle in the Northwest College welding lab on Tuesday. Tribune photo by Ilene Olson

College awaiting approval for two-year certificate

Many students enrolled in the Northwest College welding program take classes for two years to prepare adequately for their future careers. But they often leave with certificates verifying only one year of work in the program.

That is because the college currently offers only one-year certificates for different welding skills and an associate of applied science degree in the program, said Bill Johnson, associate professor of welding.

January 29, 2009 3:55 am

Libraries leery of lead law

A federal law designed to prevent lead poisoning in children has library officials around the nation concerned that they may have to remove children's books from libraries or close them to children under 12.

The American Library Association has contacted libraries warning them that the Consumer Product Safety Commission may mandate that children's books be tested to determine whether they contain unsafe levels of lead or be removed from the shelves.

Senate File 13, a bill giving the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission the power to ban antler or horn hunting in specific areas, squeaked by the Wyoming Senate Friday.

“I voted against it, and it passed the Senate 16-13 and one excused,” said Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, in an e-mail Monday.

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Senior swimmer Jackson Miller swam to first place in the backstroke during the Warrior Invitational in Worland last weekend. Miller has registered the fastest time among Wyoming 3A swimmers in the event so far this year.Tribune photo by Don Amend

Seven Powell High School Panther senior swimmers paused to reflect on their careers this week as they prepared for their final home swim meet, which will take place today (Thursday).

The seven, Roy Oursler, Jackson Miller, Anthony Quillen, Alex Speiser, Randy Bullinger, Jake Firnekas and Cody Thomas, along with Ty Barton, who wasn't at practice Tuesday, make up nearly half of the Panther swim team this season.

Trappers ready to begin stretch run

The Northwest College Trappers will host the 11th annual Apodaca Dual Showdown Friday and Saturday at Hank Cabre Gymnasium, and this year's collection of squads promises to provide plenty of high-caliber competition.

Each of the teams lined up for this week's event boasts a lofty national ranking.

Northwest College will carry a No. 13 ranking into the event. The remainder of the seven-team field will consist of No. 2 North Idaho College, No. 8 Southwest Oregon Community College, No. 10 Clackamas Community College and No. 12 Western Wyoming College. Also included in the field are the two teams tied for the fifth spot in the national rankings,

Labette Community College and North Iowa Area Community College. Combined, the seven teams have 29 wrestlers who boast spots in the NJCAA's individual rankings.

“We've got teams coming here from as far away as Kansas and from the West Coast,” said Jim Zeigler, NWC athletic director and head coach. “That says a lot about how people view this event. It's quite a commitment to come here in January, but coaches have heard through word of mouth over the years that this is a first-class event, and they want their teams to be a part of it.”

A major lure of the Apodaca Dual Showdown centers around what it represents. The event was created by Zeigler as a way to honor the memory of former Trapper wrestler Christopher Brooks Apodaca, who died in a one-vehicle accident in 1998.

Apodaca was a native of Riverton and was a student at NWC for three years. As an NWC wrestler, he was a two-year varsity wrestler and a national qualifier. Apodaca also served as a team captain for the 1997-98 team. According to Zeigler, Apodaca is best remembered for his quiet leadership qualities and competitive spirit. The coach also said Apodaca's character and work ethic on and off the mat motivated all who knew him.

Zeigler said during the practices leading up to the annual showdown, he makes a point of sharing the qualities Apodaca displayed during his life. By doing that, Zeigler said the wrestlers develop a better understanding of the young man whose life was tragically cut short.

“One of the things we want to do is implant his spirit in our wrestlers,” Zeigler said. “Last Saturday, I started thinking about Brooks and what I want these young men to know and understand about him. Each year and during the week leading up to the Apodaca Duals, we talk about Brooks a lot. By doing that, our guys are able to see him as not only a former NWC wrestler, but as one of their teammates.”

As part of the Apodaca Dual Showdown, Zeigler picks one of his wrestlers to be the recipient of the Christopher Brooks Apodaca Memorial Award for Leadership and Excellence. That honor, which is one of the most prestigious athletic awards offered at NWC, is given to the wrestler who best exemplifies Apodaca's qualities.

“We look for someone that everyone on the team can count on,” Zeigler said. “When it comes to this award, we look for a guy that gives his best effort in everything he does. He's the person a guy can go to for help with homework or something to do with wrestling. The winner of this award is someone who pushes his teammates to get better and does everything he can to make those around him better.”

The most recent Apodaca Award winner is Darren Lewis, who came to NWC from Fallon, Nev. Lewis was a key part of the Trapper wrestling squad during his time with the Trappers, and he graduated from NWC last May. Lewis, who earned Academic All-American honors while at Northwest College, currently is attending the University of Nevada, Reno, where he is majoring in physical education. He and his wife, Amber, recently celebrated the birth of a baby boy named Jayson.

On Friday night and prior to the start of the 8 p.m. matchups, Zeigler said the 2009 winner of the award will be announced during a short ceremony at NWC's Hank Cabre Gymnasium.

Other Apodaca Award winners include Travis Carter (1999), Rad Martinez (2000), Trevor Murray (2001), Loren Hutchins (2002), Bobby Singleton (2003), Tyler Rhodes (2004), Kade Caturia (2005), Chris Riding (2006) and Nick DeWitt (2007).

“We're really looking forward to getting started,” Zeigler said. “We've got a strong lineup of teams, and there will be a lot of good matchups Friday and Saturday. A lot of the wrestlers that will be here for this event are ranked, and there are a lot who could earn a spot in the rankings with a good showing this weekend.”

Zeigler said a number of his wrestlers, including freshmen McCade Ford, Corey Woodruff and Saul Guerrero, are among those looking to earn a national ranking with their performances Friday and Saturday.

“Those guys are right there, and they want to be ranked,” Zeigler said. “With good showings this week, they've got good shots at making that happen.”

Currently, NWC has two wrestlers who have cracked the individual standings. Freshman heavyweight Landon Harris checks in at No. 3 and boasts the best record for the Trappers. He will enter the upcoming event with a 23-1 mark.

“Landon has done really well, and he's still improving,” Zeigler said. “He's one of those guys who is always working to get better, and we see that from him every time he steps on the mat.”

Anthony Varnell, a sophomore, is NWC's other ranked wrestler. He occupies the No. 6 spot in the rankings for 149-pound entries.

“This is a big event for us,” Zeigler said. “This is the time of year we're preparing for our guys to peak as far as their performance levels. Upon completion of the Apodaca Duals, we like to think that our guys are stronger and ready to finish the season with their best efforts.”

Apodaca Dual Showdown Schedule

Friday, Jan. 30

• Labette vs. Western Wyoming, 4 p.m.
• Clackamas vs. North Iowa Area CC, 4 p.m.
• NWC vs. Southwest Oregon, 6 p.m.
• North Idaho vs. Labette, 6 p.m.
• NWC vs. Clackamas, 8 p.m.
• North Iowa Area CC vs. Western Wyoming, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

• North Idaho vs. North Iowa Area CC, 10 a.m.
• Southwest Oregon vs. Labette, 10 a.m.
• North Iowa Area CC vs. Southwest Oregon, noon.
• Western Wyoming vs. Clackamas, noon.
• NWC vs. North Idaho, 2 p.m.
• Labette vs. Clackamas, 2 p.m.
• NWC vs. Labette, 4 p.m.
• Western Wyoming vs. North Idaho, 4 p.m.

January 29, 2009 3:44 am

Lady Trappers top Dawson

Eastern Wyoming next in line for NWC

The Northwest College Lady Trappers claimed a 55-24 decision over Dawson Community College last Saturday in Glendive, Mont.

NWC, thanks to the victory, has won two games in a row and three of their last four. They currently have a 6-15 overall record.

Against the Lady Buccaneers, NWC enjoyed a solid defensive effort. The Lady Trappers built a 22-point lead by halftime and after holding Dawson to only 10 points in the first 20 minutes. Head coach Chad Oletzke's squad then outscored the

Lady Buccaneers 23-14 in the second half to seal the win.

Overall, 10 Lady Trappers found themselves in the scoring column. Sophomore Gita Grava paced the offensive attack with 14 points. Fellow sophomore Erin Cooke added 10 points to round out NWC's double-digit point producers. Others who scored for the Lady Trappers were Sheena Ryan (9 points), Kassi Tucker (7), Madara Upeniece (4), Kati Oliverson (4), Lacey Gilmer (2), Sharla Stevenson (2), Chanda Hallows (2) and Rachel Tilley (1).

On the boards, the Lady Trappers outrebounded Dawson 49-24. NWC's rebounding leaders included Larissa Crump and Cooke with seven each. Oliverson added six boards.

• Up next: The Lady Trappers' next contest is a road matchup slated for Saturday and will be against Eastern Wyoming College. Start time for the matchup 3 p.m.