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Panther grapplers take top spot in conference

Six Panthers won first place to lead the Powell High School wrestling team to a 3A West Regional title in Star Valley over the weekend.

Chance Karst, Nic Urbach, Kye Catlin, Matt Widdicombe, Zach Thompson and Riley Stringer each won an individual title as PHS totaled 241 team points and put itself in position to win a third straight Class 3A championship.

“We’re sitting as good as we can at this point in the year,” said PHS head coach Nate Urbach.

Before the tournament Urbach said he wanted as many Panthers as possible to advance to the semifinals so they would receive favorable seeding at the state tournament set for Friday and Saturday in Casper.

Friday’s action ended with 14 of the team’s 21 wrestlers reaching that goal, and all 21 wrestlers qualified for state.

“You really try to be in the top three,” Urbach said.

Saturday’s semis and final matches were showcases for Powell’s top-to-bottom talent.

Aside from the six champions, Colton Parham and Jacob Davis were runners-up and Bailey Atkinson and Rowdy Gard each took third place.

“I thought we wrestled better Saturday than we did Friday,” Urbach said.

Powell’s depth was apparent all weekend, especially at 132 and 145 pounds.

Catlin was the 145-pound champ while sophomore Tucker Darrah finished fourth. Parham took second at 132 and Atkinson finished right behind him.

Urbach said having upper-tier junior varsity wrestlers can prove valuable at state, where wrestling two guys in the same bracket can pile up points for your team.

No. 2 Karst pinned his way through the 120-pound bracket, including a win by fall over Pinedale’s Traison Swenson in the title bout.

Nic Urbach pinned his opponent in the quarter- and semifinals before besting Star Valley’s Brandon Claye with a 11-4 decision to top the 126-pound bracket.

Catlin also won on a pair of pins to advance to the finals, where he beat Alex Galicia of Jackson in the finals.

Widdicombe (152 pounds) was the only Powell wrestler to go 4-0. The senior, ranked fourth in the state, pinned his first three opponents before shutting out No. 2 Paul Semadeni of Star Valley (who beat Widdicombe at the Ron Thon Memorial) 6-0 in the finals.

Thompson ramped up for a state title-defense by taking home the 195-pound title. The senior pinned Pinedale’s Brett Butler in 1:10 in the semis and Jackson’s Theodore Dawson in 2:47 in the title match.

“He looks liks he’s getting back to the old Thompson,” Urbach said.

Thompson began with a pin over fellow Panther Pax Mitchell.

Stringer needed only two bouts, both against Jackson opponents, to best the thin field of 220-pound wrestlers. The top-ranked junior pinned Greg Carillo in 2:28 and downed No. 6 Joey Caffaro in 2:30 to take first.

Davis lost in the finals 4-2 to Cody’s John Beaudrie, but not before forcing overtime. It was the third time this month the No.1-ranked Beaudrie bested Davis, and Urbach said the Panther has made strides.

“He looked really good and I thought he wrestled well,” Urbach said. “He’s got his work cut out for him.”

Parham, who is ranked fourth at 132, beat Lyman’s Austin Guyman in the semis but lost a 7-4 decision to No. 2 Dillon Weil of Lander in the finals.

Atkinson made it to the 132-pound semis before being sent to the consolation bracket. The junior beat Lander’s Jacob Winchester 9-0 to move on to the third-place match, where he took down Guyman 8-5.

Heavyweight Rowdy Gard beat No. 7 John Beck of Jackson to win third place. The third-ranked Gard also beat unranked Malik Oilar of Cody in consolation play after losing to No. 4 Kegan Wells in the championship bracket’s semifinals.

Urbach said Gard probably should have advanced to the finals but “his third place puts him in good position in the bracket” for state.

Noah Wozney, Colbee Craig, Darrah, Grant Nickles and Ty Dearcorn all came in fourth.

Wozney, ranked third at 106 pounds, eased through his first two bouts to advance to the semis, where he was pinned by No. 2 Palmer Schafer of Lander. The junior then lost to No. 5 Mark McConnell of Lander in the third-place bout.

No. 5 Craig went 3-2 in the 138-pound bracket. He advanced to the semis but was sent to the consolation bracket by No. 4 Jake Hicks of Lyman. Craig lost to No. 7 Joseph Nield of Star Valley in the third-place match.

Darrah was 1-2 at 145 pounds. The sixth-ranked Panther lost to No. 4 Bryan Nichols of Star Valley in the third-place match.

Nickles was 1-2 at 170 pounds. The fifth-ranked senior beat Jackson’s Logan Rodenbough 14-6 to advance to the third-place match, where Nickles was pinned by Jackson’s Dillon Hartranft. Both Broncs were unranked heading into the tournament.

Dearcorn dropped an 11-6 decision to Jackson’s Johnathan Tzompa in the third-place match at 182 pounds. The PHS freshman was 1-2 in Star Valley.

Host Star Valley was second to Powell with 216.5 points.

“Star Valley gave us a good run,” said Urbach, who also expects Douglas and Worland to pose threats in Casper.

“I think the top four ... are all going to give us a run,” the coach said.

But Urbach isn’t concerning himself too much with the jerseys worn by Powell’s opponents, but on entering state with a bout-by-bout approach.

“All you can really hope for is that you have winnable matches,” he said.

The Panthers are scheduled to leave for Casper at 11 a.m. Thursday. Urbach said the final practices leading up to state focused on getting the kids’ minds right.

“Ninety percent of it is mental at this point,” Urbach said. “The hard (training) is basically over, we just want to keep them loose and excited and ready to go.”

Urbach was voted by his peers as the 3A West Coach of the Year.

Team results

1. Powell-241; 2. Star Valley-216.5; 3. Lander-150; 4. Jackson-123; 5. Lyman-105; 6. Cody-89; 7. Pinedale-56; 8. Mountain View-33.5.

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