Panthers placed in the top three in eight of the 14 weight classes, and had 11 wrestlers place in the top six of their class on the way to 305.5 team points over the course of the Friday-Saturday tourney.
Head coach Nate Urbach was pleased with the early-season victory, but said there’s room to improve.
“I was real proud of the team effort,” Urbach said. “You always want to have some champions so that means we need to fine tune them a little bit.”
The teams from Colstrip, Mont., (234 points) and Sheridan (211) finished second and third, respectively.
Sophomores Chance Karst and Kye Catlin and junior Riley Stringer were Powell’s top finishers, each finishing second in their weight classes.
“They got real close but they lost to good kids,” Urbach said.
Karst pinned his first two opponents before losing by a major decision in the final bout of the 126-pound bracket.
Catlin fell just one point shy of winning the 145-pound bracket. A 3-2 loss in the finals came after Catlin cruised to two wins by way of fall.
Stringer, wrestling in the heavyweight bracket, also advanced to the final bout with back-to-back pins, but lost by a 5-1 decision.
Urbach said Stringer lost to “one of the region’s best kids,” who’s won three Powell Wrestling Tournament championships.
Senior Zach Thompson, last year’s state champion at 195 pounds, finished third in the tournament. Thompson pinned his opponent from Gillette in the first round but was ousted of the championship bracket when he lost a narrow 11-9 decision to a Dubois wrestler.
The third-place match was hardly a challenge for Thompson, who won by a technical fall, 17-1.
Noah Wozney, Nic Urbach, Matt Widdicombe and Jacob Davis also took third in their classes.
Wozney finished third in the 106-pound class. The junior advanced out of the first round with a fall in 1:50, but was pinned in 4:42 in the semifinal bout. An 11-2 major decision over his Cody opponent earned Wozney third.
Nic Urbach, at 132 pounds, dominated the third-place match with a 15-0 technical fall. A 12-4 major decision put Urbach in the semis where the sophomore lost by a 7-1 decision.
Widdicombe won his third-place bout 8-1. A 15-0 victory in the first round placed Widdicombe in the semis, where he was pinned in 2:34.
“Other than that (being pinned), he wrestled lights out,” Urbach said.
Davis pinned his first opponent but lost to the eventual 160-pound champion by a 6-4 overtime decision in the semifinals. Davis then won the third-place match by way of fall 3:34 in.
Colton Parham was the fourth-place wrestler in the 138-pound class after dropping the third-place bout 5-1. The junior advanced with a 9-7 first-round win but was pinned just 42 seconds into his semifinal bout.
Rowdy Gard lost in the first round of the heavyweight bracket but went on to win two straight bouts to claim fifth. All three of his matches ended in pins.
Senior Colbee Craig went 1-2 on his way to a sixth-place finish in the 132-pound class. Craig was pinned in the first round, won 7-5 in the second, and lost the fifth-place match by an 8-5 decision.
Bailey Atkinson (138 pounds), Tucker Darrah (145), Grant Nickles (152) and Danial Wheeler (182) each lost both of their bouts.
Two junior varsity Panthers stood out during the tournament as well.
Freshman Ty Dearcorn was the 160-pound champion and sophomore Teagen Cordes took second in the 145-pound division.
Powell’s JV squad finished fourth overall in the team standings.
The Panthers travel to Laurel, Mont., today (Tuesday) for a 7 p.m. dual.
Urbach said Laurel is traditionally a good team, though this year they are younger than usual.
“We’ve had some dogfights with those guys,” he said.
The wrestlers will compete again this weekend at the Rapid City Invitational in Rapid City, S.D. The action will begin at 2 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. Saturday.
Urbach called the invitational “our toughest tournament of the year” and said the elite matchups won’t be reserved for the finals, but could come in the first round.