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Panther wrestlers continue quest for third state title

The top wrestling team in Wyoming’s Class 3A the past two seasons will resume play in Montana this weekend.

The Powell Panthers will compete at the Miles City Invitational Friday and Saturday.

PHS head coach Nate Urbach said the team is performing well but is nowhere near championship form.

“We’re a long ways from where we want to be,” Urbach said. “The idea is constant improvement throughout the year.”

The coach said each wrestler has things to work on, and no Panther is yet at the top of his game.

The Panthers returned to practice full-time Dec. 30. The team took a seven-day break over the holidays, returned for four practices and then had another three days off.

Senior Anthony Lujan (182 pounds), who has been out the entire season with a back injury, is still aiming for a February return, Urbach said.

“I don’t want to get him in there too early and reinjure it,” Urbach said. “He’s getting better. It’s slow progress right now.”

Lujan is limited physically and has not practiced yet with the team, and is instead focused on rehabbing.

Besides Lujan’s absence, there will be some minor shuffling to the Panthers’ lineup.

“We’re starting to get it kind of solidified,” Urbach said.

Junior Riley Stringer will move from heavyweight down to the 225-pound class and senior Grant Nickles will move up from 160 to 170.

Urbach said Nickles shouldn’t have much trouble adapting to the bigger competition though he conceded “any time you’re bumping weight classes it’s tough.”

The Miles City Invitational provides another out-of-state challenge for Powell, much like the Rapid City Invitational did.

The coach said he expects the 126-, 152- and 160-pound weight classes to be ultra-competitive.

There will be 32 teams from Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota in attendance.

The action begins at 9 a.m. both Friday and Saturday.

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