Powell High School junior Zach Thompson scaled that mountain over the weekend, winning four consecutive matches against some of the state’s top 195-pound talent from all of Wyoming’s high school classifications to win the title and help lead the Powell Panthers to a third-place team finish.
“Zach had a really good weekend,” said Panther coach Nate Urbach. “He was down a point or two in the championship match against the Star Valley kid and they got into a scramble. Zach was able to put him on his back and pin him. He finishes well when he gets the advantage.”
The pin came midway through the second period against Star Valley’s Jordan Semadeni in a battle of Wyoming’s two top-ranked wrestlers in 3A. With the win by fall, Thompson avenged an earlier one-point loss to Semadeni and likely ensured the pair would swap the No. 1 and No. 2 designations when the newest rankings are released this week. The tournament title improved Thompson’s record to 38-6 for the season.
“Zach and that kid are 2-2 against each other now,” said Urbach. “It’s a toss up when they’re on the mat. You know it’s going to be close.”
Thompson advanced into the championship match with a 10-5 decision over Cheyenne East’s Christia Robinson in the semifinals and a 7-4 decision over Rock Springs’ James Sedley in the quarterfinals. Both were 30-win wrestlers. After an opening-round bye, Thompson’s tournament got started with a 13-3 major decision win over Wheatland’s Jace Lloyd.
Thompson’s victory fueled a strong team performance by the Panthers. Powell scored 161.5 points to easily finish as the top 3A team in the tournament field. Campbell County won the overall title with 264.5 points. Cheyenne East was the tournament runner-up with 195 points. Star Valley was fourth at 121.5 with Douglas in fifth at 112.5 points.
Douglas entered the weekend as the No. 1 team in 3A with Powell at No. 2 and Star Valley No. 3. Like the individual rankings, that team hierarchy could well change once the new rankings get released.
“You really can’t tell much from it,” cautioned Urbach. “Last year we finished 50 points behind Douglas in the scoring down there, so state is a whole other animal. You can’t read too much into this.”
Still, the Panthers’ coach was delighted with his team’s finish, not only because of the magnitude, but also for the way it was accomplished.
“What jumps out at me is that we had the same number of medalists as Douglas had,” said Urbach. “But all of our kids scored for us. We had a good team effort that helped us in the final standings.”
Key to that effort were the four other wrestlers to return home with individual awards from this year’s Ron Thon. Sophomore Riley Stringer (220) and freshmen Kye Catlin (138) and Nic Urbach (113) all finished fourth overall. Chance Karst, another freshman, was fifth at 106 pounds.
“All four of those kids wrestled tough,” said Coach Urbach. “As good a weekend as it was, though, I don’t think we’ve seen everyone hitting as well as they can on the same weekend. That’s something we’ll have to start looking at. Everyone has had a tournament here and there where they’ve done well, but as a team we haven’t put all that together in a single event yet.”
Karst advanced to the semifinals before dropping a 10-6 decision to Green River’s Cole Verner, denying the Powell freshman a chance to stare across the mat at undefeated Campbell County grappler Trent Olson. Karst also dropped a two-point decision in the consolation semifinals, falling into the fifth-place match, which he won with ease, scoring a pin in 56 seconds to move to 26-6 for the year.
Nic Urbach’s run through the bracket also got derailed in the semifinals as he was pinned by Douglas’ Jordan Pingray after picking up wins by pin and tech-fall to reach that round. On the back of the bracket, Urbach required just 84 seconds to pin his way into the third-place match, but fell to Cheyenne Central’s Nathan Parris in a 6-4 decision. Urbach moved to a 36-10 freshman mark at the tournament.
Catlin was knocked into the consolation bracket in the quarterfinals. After an opening bye and an effortless 10-0 major decision win over Wheatland’s Lance Lewis, the Panther freshman dropped a 4-1 decision to Star Valley senior Carbon Kennington.
Catlin battled strong in the elimination half of the bracket, posting a 12-1 major decision win, followed by a third-period win by fall to reach the consolation semifinals. There, he advanced to the third-place match by virtue of an injury default, where he again lost a narrow decision to Kennington, this time by a 5-3 count, to move to 35-7 this season.
“They’ll probably see each other again at the regional meet,” said Coach Urbach. “We’ll have to figure him out before then.”
Stringer’s weekend also took a detour in the quarterfinals. After an opening round bye, Stringer scored a third-period win by fall over Wheatland’s Lane Peasley. In the quarterfinals, he dropped a 9-2 decision to eventual champion Cody Delk of Sheridan.
Following a nervous 13-11 decision win over Dubois’ Cody Flynn, Stringer went on to add a third-period win by fall and a win by injury default to reach the third-place match. There, he fell on a second-period fall to Natrona County’s Greg Lensert. Stringer is now 27-14 this season.
Powell travels to Cody tonight (Tuesday) for dual action.
106-Noah Wozney (17-16) finished 0-2, Chance Karst (26-6) finished 3-2 and placed fifth.
113-Nic Urbach (36-10) finished 3-2 and placed fourth.
120-Colbee Craig (18-13) finished 1-2, Colton Parham (12-11) finished 3-2.
126-Dylan Rood (18-15) finished 2-2.
132-Andrew Feller (24-16) finished 1-2.
138-Kye Catlin (35-7) finished 4-2 and placed fourth, Matt Widdicombe (19-18) finished 2-2.
145-Jacob Davis (27-15) finished 3-2.
152-Anthony Lujan (18-20) finished 2-2.
160-Mike Mundy (12-17) finished 1-2.
170-Tyler Patterson (24-13) finished 1-2.
182-Spencer Shultz (19-17) finished 1-2.
195-Zach Thompson (38-6) finished 4-0 and was the tournament champion.
220-Riley Stringer (27-14) finished 4-2 and placed fourth.
285-Rowdy Gard (7-12) finished 1-2, Erik Denney (15-10) finished 2-2.