That’s why head coach Nate Urbach and the boys keep coming back.
“I refer to it as our seasoning,” Urbach said. “We’re getting the boys ready and we’re trying to fix as many mistakes as we can before we head back to Wyoming.
“If everything goes well it’s kind of a waste of time, to be honest. I want them to struggle.”
The Panthers finished 10th out of 29 teams at Bozeman High School in Bozeman, Montana, and placed three in the top eight, including one champion.
Urbach said this year’s tournament was “even a little tougher than it’s been in the past. It’s one of those tournaments where any weaknesses you have can shine through. So it’s really good for us.”
All but one Panther advanced to at least the second round of the championship bracket, and Urbach said the deep competition will benefit Powell later this season.
“All those kids battled. I have a huge list of things that we can work on, so all those kids that battled, this should pay dividends for them in the future,” Nate Urbach said.
PHS senior Chance Karst remained undefeated as he went 5-0 on the way to the title at 138 pounds. Karst won by three pins and two major decisions as he completed a hat trick in Bozeman.
“He had a great tournament. He’s a three-time Bozeman champ and the only reason he’s not a four-time is because we didn’t go one year.
“That’s the best in school history, by far.”
Fellow senior Nic Urbach finished fifth at 152 pounds with a 5-2 record, four of which came by pin.
“He’s just prolific on top. That’s been what he’s done forever,” coach Nate Urbach said. “If he smells blood, he’s going to try to finish it as quick as he can.”
Junior Ty Dearcorn took sixth at 182 pounds with a 3-3 mark.
“He had a heck of a tournament. He’s getting better. He’s still young, made some young kid mistakes, but I thought he had a great tournament," Nate Urbach said. "We just got to fix a couple small things for him and he’ll be in good shape.”
While the Panthers didn’t stack the podium like they are capable of in other tournaments, the team’s depth is rounding out during the season’s formative weeks.
“Almost every kid on the varsity won a match … and most kids, even though they didn’t get to the top eight, won multiple matches anyway,” Nate Urbach said. “When you get kids winning matches, you feel good about what they can do in the postseason.”
Freshman Reese Karst did not place in the 126-pound division, but advanced to the third round of the championship bracket with a pair of pins.
“He’s a young kid wrestling older kids, and that’s always tough, but I thought he wrestled pretty well,” Nate Urbach said.
Tucker Darrah finished 3-2 in the 160-pound division. The senior won by two pins and a major decision, and lost by close decisions — 2-1 and 7-4.
Junior Eli Briggs advanced to the 205-pound quarterfinals with a pair of pins, but lost a 13-4 major decision before ending his tournament run with a pin in the consolation round.
Senior Teagan Cordes won his first match at 170 pounds by way of fall, but dropped a pair of decisions by scores of 9-2 and 6-2.
Marshall Wittick also went 1-2 in Bozeman. The junior won a 7-0 decision in his first-round match at 132 pounds before losing by technical fall and pin.
All three of Brody Wells’ matches ended with a pin. The freshman was pinned in the second round of his first match, won by pin 42 seconds into his second bout, and lost by another pin at 2:48 of his final match.
Junior heavyweight Terrence McLaughlin received a bye in the first round but lost in the second and consolation rounds by way of fall.
Another Montana Test
The Panthers travel to Missoula, Montana, Thursday afternoon for another premier two-day tournament.
The invite-only tournament features 32 teams from Montana, Washington, Idaho and, thanks to Powell, Wyoming.
“We need to make sure we’re practicing hard and fix some of the things,” coach Urbach said. “We were so close in a lot of matches (in Bozeman), and part of that is we just haven’t had the mat time that some of those Montana schools have.
“We should be more prepared this week. This tournament’s even tougher, it’s a step above even Bozeman, and Bozeman is really tough. So we need to raise our level as well.”
The challenge could be a blessing in disguise for Chance Karst, who breezed through the competition in Bozeman.
“He’s really done well (in Bozeman), which just shows you how good a wrestler he is, how tough a kid he is,” Nate Urbach said. “You hope he gets challenged and pushed at Missoula, and if there’s a tournament he will, it’s Missoula.”
The final results might not look as impressive as Powell is accustom to earning in Wyoming tournaments, but the Panthers are determined to grow as wrestlers rather than just pad stats.
“We could stay around Wyoming, but there’s just so many opportunities to expand their horizons, that this helps,” Nate Urbach said.