“Oh heck yeah, it was nice,” said Panther head coach Nate Urbach when asked about the weekend. “We had a heck of a team effort down in Casper. It was really good.”
The expected four-team showdown between Powell, Star Valley, Douglas and Worland whittled itself down to a two-team challenge between the Panthers and Braves by the time the championship round began. Powell held an 18-point lead entering that round and, with eight wrestlers set to take the mat, appeared to be in good shape.
But what would a state championship tournament be without a little drama?
Chance Karst came up on the short side of a 7-2 decision in the 106-pound final. Fellow freshman Nic Urbach dominated his performance in the 113-pound championship match, building a 14-0 lead before becoming a victim of his own momentum while going for the technical fall victory, ending up on his back in a bad position and suffering a loss by fall with 20 seconds remaining in the second period.
“Chance wrestled a good tournament,” said Urbach. “Nic had a great year and tied the school record for most techs and falls with 31. He wrestled a great finals match and just got caught by a very dangerous kid.”
Opportunities to cinch the victory continued to slip away as Dylan Rood and Drew Feller each dropped narrow decisions in their respective championship matches.
“Drew is our most inspirational wrestler and a great team leader,” said Urbach. “He’s a two-time state medalist for us whose gutty performance will be missed.”
The bleeding temporarily stopped as Kye Catlin and Matt Widdicombe stepped onto the mat to face each other for a state title. The pair had met the previous week in the regional finals with Widdicombe taking the title. This time, it was Catlin having his hand raised.
“I was proud to see them both in the finals, but I hated seeing one of them have to lose,” said Urbach. “Kye has been a solid wrestler for us from the beginning. He does not wrestle like a freshman. He had a great year and fought through injury. We will definitely separate the two of them next year.”
The Panthers continued with Jacob Davis taking a runner-up title at 145 pounds. The appearance in the state finals came one year after Davis posted an 0-2 record as a freshman.
“Jacob worked extremely hard in the offseason,” said Urbach, adding a thank you to Crossfit. “It showed on the mat. He’s only a sophomore and there are great things in the future for him.”
That set the stage for Thompson’s showdown with Star Valley’s Jordan Semadeni with the 3A team title hanging in the balance.
“I mean, what can you say about that young man,” Urbach asked of Thompson. “He fought through a very bad rib injury to pin Semadeni in the finals and secure our team title. I honestly didn’t think he could beat him with his ribs as bad as they were, but he showed the heart of a champion and rose to the occasion. That was one of the most exciting matches I have ever been witness to.”
Of the 23 wrestlers the Panthers took to the state tournament, 15 of them returned home with medals.
In addition to the finalists, the Panthers came home with hardware hanging around the necks of Colbee Craig (third at 120), Colton Parham (fourth at 120), Ty Linebaugh (sixth at 126), Anthony Lujan (fifth at 152), Tyler Patterson (fourth at 170), Spencer Shultz (fifth at 182) and Riley Stringer (fifth at 220).
“Tyler is a three time state medalist and had a great career at PHS,” said Urbach. “He’s one of our big team leaders and wrestled his best at state.”
Patterson was one of only six seniors making the trip to Casper. In addition to Feller, Rood, Patterson and Shultz, Mike Mundy and Erik Denney both made their final trips to the mat for the Panthers over the weekend.
The remaining 17 wrestlers who saw action will be back in singlets for the Panthers next season, including both of the team’s state champions.
“This was a good overall team effort,” said Urbach. “We won a match at every weight class in the first round and I felt the kids wrestled above themselves all weekend. Star Valley had a great tournament as well, so hats off to them. I told the seniors early in the week that they were the key to the tournament and that they needed to wrestle the best they have all year, and they did. I really enjoyed coaching this team.”
In addition to the state title, the Panthers went undefeated throughout the season in dual action.
“Our assistant coaches did a great job this season,” said Urbach. Zack Coombs really did a great job with the big boys this season. He’s my right hand man on stats and strategy. Justin Carter was a first-year coach and did an excellent job helping with bottom technique. He loves wrestling. I also need to say a big thank you to our fans. We have the best fans in the state and you could feel their energy throughout the season.”
Team scores — Powell 241.5, Star Valley 233, Douglas 188, Worland 170.5, Lander 144, Torrington 141, Cody 96, Jackson 83, Wheatland 70, Lyman 57, Glenrock 50, Rawlins 39, Mountain View 38, Buffalo 32, Newcastle 29, Pinedale 17.
106 — Chance Karst (31-7) went 3-1 and finished as the 3A state runner-up. Noah Wozney (22-20) finished 1-2 and did not place.
113 — Nic Urbach (43-11) went 3-1 and finished as the 3A state runner-up.
120 — Colbee Craig (25-12) went 4-1 and finished third. Colton Parham (19-15) went 4-1 and finished fourth.
126 — Dylan Rood (25-15) went 3-1 and finished as the 3A state runner-up. Ty Linebaugh (5-5) went 3-3 and finished sixth.
132 — Drew Feller (28-18) went 3-1 and finished as the 3A state runner-up. Tucker Darrah (4-3) went 2-2 and did not place.
138 — Kye Catlin (41-10) went 4-0 and finished as the 3A state champion. Matt Widdicombe (24-18) went 3-0 and finished as the 3A state runner-up.
145 — Jacob Davis (33-18) went 3-1 and finished as the 3A state runner-up. Grant Nickles (6-6) went 0-2 and did not place.
152 — Anthony Lujan (25-24) went 4-2 and finished fifth.
160 — Mike Mundy (16-23) went 2-2 and did not place.
170 — Tyler Patterson (28-16) went 3-2 and finished fourth. Jared Wantulok (3-2) went 1-2 and did not place.
182 — Spencer Shultz (21-21) went 3-3 and finished sixth.
195 — Zach Thompson (44-7) went 4-0 and finished as the 3A state champion. Daniel Wheeler (3-2) went 1-2 and did not place.
220 — Riley Stringer (33-17) went 4-2 and finished fifth.
285 — Erik Denney (17-13) went 2-2 and did not place. Rowdy Gard (7-14) went 1-1 and did not place.