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Panthers take championship

Powell High School junior Reese Karst wrestles against Hunter Elmer during the 138-pound weight class championship match at the Powell Athletic Roundtable Invitational on Saturday. Karst was voted as the Outstanding Varsity Wrestler of the tournament. Powell High School junior Reese Karst wrestles against Hunter Elmer during the 138-pound weight class championship match at the Powell Athletic Roundtable Invitational on Saturday. Karst was voted as the Outstanding Varsity Wrestler of the tournament. Tribune photos by Breanne Thiel

Karst named outstanding varsity wrestler at home invite

Powell High School’s wrestlers opened their season with a victory at home, beating 19 other teams at the Powell Athletic Roundtable Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Twelve PHS wrestlers placed in the top six.

“I thought we did well,” said PHS head coach Nate Urbach. “I was happy,”

As young as the team is, coach Urbach said he was surprised Powell won the tournament; the PHS wrestling team is comprised of only two seniors, four juniors and 19 freshmen and sophomores.

“Thought the kids wrestled really hard, it was a good tournament,” Urbach said.

Powell placed first with 261.5 points followed by Lander with 200.5, Natrona County in third with 190.5 points, Buffalo at 152.5 points and Cody in fifth at 148.5.

The other 15 schools in attendance were Riverton, Wright, Lovell, Thermopolis, Sheridan, Thunder Basin, Wind River, Rocky Mountain, Worland, Shoshoni, Dubois, Campbell County, Greybull, Wyoming Indian and Livingston, Montana.

Freshman Emma Karhu placed third in the 106-pound weight class.

Urbach said that he was “cautiously optimistic,” about the incoming freshman after her success in middle school, USA wrestling and in practice the last two weeks.

In the semi-finals, Emma Karhu met up with Brady Carey of Lander — the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the weight class in WyoPreps.com’s preseason poll — where she lost by a 4-0 decision.

Urbach said Emma Karhu wrestled tough in that semi-finals match.

“She had a great tournament; I was really really happy with her,” Urbach said.

Also wrestling at 106 pounds was sophomore Colt Nicholson, who Urbach said has improved from last season. At last year’s Powell Invite, he didn’t win a match, but this year he went 2-2 with both wins by pin. Nicholson weighs 93 pounds, but the lowest weight class at the high school level is 106 pounds.

At 113 pounds, Aaron Swaney took fourth.

“I was really happy with Swaney just because he’s really new at the sport,” Urbach said. “But I saw huge improvement in just a day.”

Swaney beat a wrestler on Saturday who had beaten him on Friday.

“It’s just awesome to see a kid get better — that much better in that little bit of time,” Urbach said.

Michael Maddox, a sophomore, placed fifth at 120 pounds.

“He’s getting better and better all the time,” Urbach said, adding that they still need to work on some things.

In the preseason rankings, Maddox came in seventh at 120 pounds. Senior Brian Brazelton took fourth at 126 pounds.

Urbach said Brazelton was a wrestler who improved throughout the tournament as he was pinned by a wrestler from Shoshoni on Friday, then beat that same wrestler by a major decision on Saturday.

“He got refocused and did the things he should do to put himself in good position, so he had a good tournament,” Urbach said of Brazelton.

Corey Linebaugh, a sophomore, placed fifth at 132 pounds in what the coach called “a great tournament.”

“He [Linebaugh] is a tough kid — a real tough-minded kid,” Urbach said. “He’s gotten a lot better.”

Junior Reese Karst took first in the 138 pound weight class and was voted as the outstanding varsity wrestler of the tournament.

“He wrestled really well,” Urbach said.

Heading into the tournament, Karst was ranked first in the preseason rankings at 138 pounds.

The championship match was a repeat from last year’s state championship bout, between Karst and Hunter Elmer of Buffalo. Karst pinned Elmer at 5:20.

Also in the 138-pound weight class were Stephen Preator, who took third, and Cole Davis, who placed fifth.

Preator was ranked fourth in the preseason rankings for the 132-pound weight class. Urbach said he’s “improved a ton.”

In the third place match, Preator beat a Rocky Mountain opponent he’d lost to on Friday.

“It’s always good to see kids responding to losses and reversing them the next days,” Urbach said.

Junior Matt Jones took fourth in the 145-pound weight class. Urbach said Jones is another wrestler who showed improvement throughout the tournament and has improved drastically from where he was at this time last year.

“He was pretty darn solid,” Urbach said of Jones. “I was impressed with him.”

The championship match at 152 pounds was a showdown between PHS teammates Brody Karhu and Seth Horton.

“Both those guys had a great tournament,” Urbach said.

Brody Karhu’s only loss was to a tough kid from Thermopolis, explained Urbach. Meanwhile, Horton beat the No. 2 wrestler in the state, Cullen Becher of Thermopolis, on Friday.

Horton and Brody Karhu are good friends and partners in the practice room, “so that does nothing but make them better, ’cause they’re competitive,” Urbach said, adding, “Steel sharpens steel and that’s what they do.”

The championship match went to sudden victory after the Panthers were tied at 4 after three periods. Brody Karhu won 6-4.

The preseason rankings had Horton ranked sixth at 152 pounds and Brady Karhu sixth in the 160-pound weight class. Horton was the only freshman from Powell to be ranked in the preseason rankings.

“For a freshman, he looked very, very good,” Urbach said of Horton. “I thought he had an outstanding tournament for a freshman.”

Bo Dearcorn — who ranked second in the preseason rankings — placed second at 170 pounds.

“He had a really good tournament as well,” Urbach said.

Dearcorn pinned Josh Jones of Cody in the semi-finals in 2:41 — a wrestler Dearcorn went back and forth with last year.

For the championship, Dearcorn met up with William Atnip of Lander, a senior who was picked second at 160 pounds in the preseason rankings. Atnip won by an 11-0 decision.

“He’s a young sophomore and he loves the sport; he puts a lot of time into it and it shows,” Urbach said of Dearcorn.

Another wrestler who Urbach thought wrestled really well at the varsity level was Cameron Schmidt.

“I thought he got better throughout the tournament,” Urbach said. “He’s another guy that works real hard in the room.”

Overall as a team, Urbach said that “to be able to compete and be that young bodes well for the future, so I’m excited for this year and the coming years.”

Urbach thanked his assistant coach Nick Fulton, saying the improvement was an indication of his coaching.

The coach also thanked the Powell Athletic Roundtable, all the volunteers, the referees and RJ Kost, Vicki Walsh and Tim Wormald — who worked behind the scenes to make sure the tournament ran smoothly.

“It’s something we look forward to — something I think the community looks forward to — and we can’t do it without people volunteering,” Urbach said with appreciation.

Next up for the wrestlers is the Worland Dual Invite on Friday and Saturday with start times at 12:30 p.m. on Friday and 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Powell High School freshman Emma Karhu wrestles Dylan Fauber of Buffalo for third place during the Powell Athletic Roundtable Invitational on Saturday. Karhu won 14-1.

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