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Panthers ranked in preseason polls

Powell High School wrestling coach Nate Urbach oversees a practice drill during early-season practice action. The Panther grapplers, defending state champs and preseason No. 3 in 3A, open the season next Thursday, Nov. 29, with a dual against Kelly Walsh. Powell High School wrestling coach Nate Urbach oversees a practice drill during early-season practice action. The Panther grapplers, defending state champs and preseason No. 3 in 3A, open the season next Thursday, Nov. 29, with a dual against Kelly Walsh. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

Boys basketball, wrestling get early nods

The first polls of the winter sports season have been released and fans of the Powell Panthers learned the state’s voters believe there could be a lot to cheer about during the colder winter months. Both the boys’ basketball team and the wrestling team received preseason rankings.

The girls’ basketball team did not crack the top five, but was still featured prominently in the first batch of polling.

The Panther boys will be the No. 2 team in Class 3A entering the 2012-13 season, according to the Wyopreps coaches and media preseason poll. The Panthers were ranked in the top five by 12 of the 20 voters and received a pair of first-place votes. The other 10 voters to select Powell were scattered across the spectrum of second, third, fourth and fifth place with their opinions.

Powell finished as last year’s consolation champion at the state tournament.

Star Valley is the only school selected ahead of Powell on the first round of voting. The Braves were also the only team that the majority of voters seemed to have a clear opinion on.

Star Valley was named No. 1 on 15 of the 20 ballots submitted.

Below the Panthers and Braves, opinions were all over the board in the boys’ poll. Every Class 3A school with the exception of Pinedale was placed in the top five by at least one voter. In addition to Star Valley and Powell, Wheatland, Rawlins and Newcastle each received one first-place vote. Two of those three schools didn’t make the first top five listing.

Wheatland and Torrington tied for third on the preseason poll. Voter uncertainty also led to a tie at fifth place between Lyman and Buffalo.

On the girls’ side of things, Douglas received eight of a possible 17 first-place votes to earn the nod as preseason No. 1. Star Valley was No. 2 after getting five first-place votes. Torrington holds down the No. 3 spot and was picked first by two voters.

The top five is rounded out by Rawlins at No. 4 and Cody at No. 5. Two-time defending state champion Wheatland received the remaining two first-place votes, but not enough additional support to find its way into the top five.

Powell was named to the top five by six of the 17 voters. The Panther girls received four fourth-place mentions and a pair of fifth-place mentions, placing them seventh in the season’s first hierarchy of teams.

Meanwhile, the defending state champion Panther wrestling team was given a No. 3 ranking by the folks at Wyowrestling.com. Powell is looking up at preseason favorite Star Valley and No. 2 Douglas.

Worland and Torrington rounded out the top five for the preliminary Class 3A rankings.

The Panthers also had a number of grapplers named to the preseason rankings in their weight classes, although none of those student-athletes were named No. 1 in their division.

Colbee Craig begins the year as the No. 2 wrestler at 120 pounds. He’s looking up at Lander’s Andrew von Rein and has teammate Colton Parham close behind him at No. 3 in the division. Craig and Parham finished third and fourth, respectively at last year’s 3A state tournament.

Also ranked second to begin the season are 170-pounder Tyler Patterson and 195-pounder Zach Thompson, both coming off successful football campaigns for the Panthers. Both were fourth place finishers a year ago.

Others to appear in the preliminary batch of wrestling rankings are Chase Karst (seventh at 106), Nic Urbach (sixth at 113), Dylan Rood (third at 126), Andrew Feller (fifth at 132), Mike Mundy (third at 160), Anthony Lujan (sixth at 182), Erik Denney (seventh at 220), Rowdy Gard (third at 285) and Spencer Schultz (fourth at 285).

Feller is the Panthers’ returning wins leader on the mat after scoring 32 victories last season.

The Panther wrestlers open the winter sports calendar for PHS on Nov. 29 with a home dual against Kelly Walsh. The following two days, the team will host its home invitational wrestling tournament.

Panther basketball teams begin play at invitational events. Powell’s boys travel to Buffalo to begin the year while the Panther girls are in Cody to begin the season.

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