The only team to outdo the Panthers was Wyoming’s Class 4A powerhouse Gillette Camels. Cody was also in attendance and finished 11th.
The Camels scored 176.5 points to edge out the Panthers, who tallied 172 points.
Powell placed eight wrestlers in the top six, tied for the most of any team at the tournament. Billings Senior and Sidney also placed eight wrestlers. Gillette, Billings Skyview and Bismarck Century (Bismarck, N.D.,) each placed seven wrestlers.
PHS head coach Nate Urbach said Powell proved a lot by giving Gillette, Wyoming’s top team for more than a decade, a run for the championship.
“For us to go there and hang with them is good for us,” Urbach said. “It’s always what you’re looking for.”
The coach said the Panthers are not yet in championship form, but he is proud their losses aren’t due to lack of effort.
“We can always fix technique,” Urbach said. “But you can’t fix heart and it’s nice to see a team full of heart.”
It took a combination of heart and skill to fend off Billings Senior High School and take second place.
Nic Urbach won the final match of the day to clinch the runner-up spot for the Panthers. The sophomore beat Sidney’s Ethan Graves in a 1-0 decision in the third-place match of the 126-pound bracket. Graves had previously beat Urbach in the second round of the tournament.
“There was a lot of pressure on him but he rose to the occasion and ended up getting an escape,” said father and coach Nate Urbach. “It was a good, hard-fought match.”
Nic may have finished the deal, but seven other Panthers placed at the invite.
Heavyweight Rowdy Gard was the 285-pound champion. The junior won all four of his bouts, including his first three by fall.
“He breezed through to the finals,” Urbach said.
Gard beat Billings Senior’s Kael Geibink, Montana’s No. 1 Class AA heavyweight in the final bout by a 4-3 decision.
“He just had a fire under him and wrestled real well,” the coach added.
Gard could provide a big boost to the PHS team.
“To be good you have to be consistent, and if he can consistently have those kinds of performances it’s going to help our team tremendously,” Urbach said.
Senior Zach Thompson was the runner-up at 195 pounds. Thompson won his first two bouts by fall, won 6-3 in the semifinals and then lost a 2-1 decision to Billings Senior’s Colter Krebill.
“He wrestled a good match, just couldn’t quite score from the bottom like he needed to,” Urbach said.
It was the fourth time Krebill bested Thompson this year, but Urbach said it was clear one of his top wrestlers was closing the gap.
Junior Noah Wozney finished fourth at 106 pounds. Wozney won his first two matches by decisions, lost a major decision in the third round and advanced to the third-place match with an 8-1 victory. Brendon Vladic of Billings Senior pinned Wozney in consolation finals.
Senior Matthew Widdicombe took fourth at 152 pounds. Four of Widdicombe’s five bouts ended in a pin, two of which he won. He also won a 14-0 major decision in the second round. Widdicombe pinned Dickinson’s Clayton Tangen in 2:59 to reach the third-place match, which he lost by fall to Justin Meier of Columbus, Mont., in 2:34.
Chance Karst placed fifth at 120 pounds, and was a key part of Powell’s success, Coach Urbach said.
Karst was sick on Friday, but felt better on Saturday as he went 4-2 in his weight class, which Urbach described as “loaded.”
Three of Karst’s four wins came by fall. He lost by an 8-6 decision in the second round and a 6-1 decision in the consolation bracket’s semifinals.
Karst met Billings Central’s Zach Wall in the fifth-place match and won 8-2.
“To get fifth he had to beat a defending state champ from Billings Central,” Urbach said. “It was a good job.”
Sophomore Kye Catlin placed fifth at 145 pounds. Catlin lost two decisions at the tournament, both by just two points. He won his first-round bout in 40 seconds, lost his second 3-1, won in the consolation bracket 17-4 and 10-4 before losing 12-10 in the match that would have sent him to the third-place match. Catlin won the fifth-place bout 3-1 over Brandon Domagala of Bismarck Century.
Jacob Davis was another fifth-place winner for PHS. Davis, a junior, won his firs two matches with ease. His first opponent fell in 19 seconds and his second succumbed to a 12-0 major decision.
Davis lost in the third round 3-0 and in his first round of the consolation bracket 6-1. Davis beat Hunter Gerth of Billings West 7-6 to claim fifth at 160 pounds.
The Panthers travel back north again this weekend for the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic in Missoula, Mont., Friday and Saturday.
This is the first time the Panthers will compete in the invite-only tournament.
“It’s a really good tournament,” Urbach said. “I’ve been wanting to get in it for years and finally got lucky.”
Powell will face off against teams from Washington, Idaho and Montana.