The Panthers toppled teams from all four Wyoming classes at the annual tournament, considered the best Wyoming has to offer.
“It means that at least on that weekend we were the best team in Wyoming,” said head coach Nate Urbach.
But as always, the coach’s hunger won’t be satiated until a third straight state title has been claimed by the Panthers.
“We can’t think the state tournament is over,” Urbach said.
Urbach always keeps in mind the 2010 season, when Powell beat Douglas on the way to a third-place finish at the Ron Thon, only to lose to the Bearcats by a single point later in the season.
“You don’t want to lose your intensity and lose your focus because you think everything’s going to be easy,” Urbach said. “I think the kids understand. They’re a pretty mature team, they know what’s going on.”
Powell scored 203 team points over the weekend to distance itself from the 48-team pack.
Sheridan and Gillette, both of Class 4A, finished second and third with 153.5 points and 146, respectively.
Green River took fourth with 128.5 points and Douglas was fifth with 125.
The Panthers’ depth carried them to a victory as nine PHS wrestlers finished in the top six. In comparison, Sheridan and Green River each placed six wrestlers in the top six.
That Powell can win without an individual champion is a testament to the team as a whole. It’s a fact Urbach can be both proud of and displeased with.
“It’s bittersweet,” Urbach said. “I was both happy and disappointed when we left, which isn’t necessarily a bad position to be in with two weeks (remaining).”
Five Panthers reached the finals, but all were thwarted in their attempt to claim a title.
Nic Urbach (126 pounds), Kye Catlin (145), Jacob Davis (160), Zach Thompson (195) and Riley Stringer each was the runner-up in their weight class.
“Once you get to that level of the tournament, there’s no easy matches,” Urbach said.
Thompson looked to be in top form in Riverton.
“That was the best I’ve seen him all year,” the coach said.
Thompson was pinned by two-time state champion Tevis Bartlett (Cheyenne East) in the finals.
Chance Karst took third at 120, Rowdy Gard placed fourth in the heavyweight division, Noah Wozney was fifth at 106 and Matt Widdicombe finished sixth at 152.
Widdicombe forfeited the fifth-place match when an ankle injury he suffered earlier in the week flared up
“We’ll rest him this week and, knock on wood, he should be 100 percent for state, which is what we want,” Urbach said.
Powell completed its regular season Tuesday evening in the Panther Gym in a dual against Cody.
The home team celebrated Senior Night with a 53-24 win over a revamped Broncs squad.
“Cody’s much improved,” Urbach said. “They’re a good team. They’re a top-four team and they’ve got some tough individuals.”
One of their toughest is the 160-pound John Beaudrie, who pinned Powell’s Jacob Davis in the pair’s second bout in four days.
Davis will likely have his chance to get even. Urbach said the pair could face off at regionals and again at state.
“Beaudrie is just a tough kid,” Urbach said. “Technically, we’ve got to stay within the match. We can compete with him but we can’t give up big points early.”
The Panthers will train through today (Thursday) and then take Friday through Sunday off.
Urbach said his team has been “running around the country” and deserves the rest. Then it’s back to preparing for regionals.
“I’m looking to have fairly short and intense practices and making sure we’re lifting legs and getting the guys ready to go,” he said.
JV excels in Riverton
The Powell Panther junior varsity wrestling squad was the runner-up at the Ron Thon with only a 12-man roster.
The second-place finish came two weeks after the JV Panthers were crowned champs at the Lander Invitational.
The success has Urbach excited about the program’s young grapplers.
“That just bodes well for the future,” Urbach said.
Tucker Darrah was Powell’s highest finisher at the Ron Thon. The sophomore finished second at 145 pounds.