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Wrestlers third, but four earn best of best titles at Worland

A semi-final loss to Star Valley prevented the Powell Panthers from repeating as champions of the Battle of the Big Horns, but they came back to take third by dominating Rock Springs 61-8.

Star Valley went on to defeat Worland and take the championship, but when the best of the Best of the Best round was wrestled, six Panthers took to the mat, and four came away with wins, more than any other team.

Four Panther went undefeated through the tournament, led by Jim Seckman who pinned all six of his opponents in pool and bracket wrestling and finished with a seventh pin in the Best of the Best round at 152.  Olie Olson and Randy Andrews also went 7-0, with each winning two matches by pin. Olson pinned a Mountain View wrestler in the Best of the Best Round and Andrews scored a 10-2 major decision over Dane Dooley of Worland
Charles Wittick went 6-0, but missed the Best of the Best round on a tie-breaker.

Wayon Bays, Jesse Craig and Trevor Griffeth also earned matches in the Best of the Best round with 5-1 records.

Bays closed by defeating a Natrona County wrestler for his seventh win, but Craig lost on a decision to defending state champion Jared Leithead of Worland and Griffeth fell to a Kelly Walsh wrestler.

The Panthers sailed through pool wrestling, opening with a big win over Green River. Wittick, Colbee Craig, Luke Wozney, Seckman, Olson and Andrews all scored pins in the dual while Jessee Craig and Brendan Phister added decisions.

Lovell was the next victim, with Colbee Craig, Bays, Seckman, Olson and Griffeth all recording pins and Wittick and Wozney earning technical falls. Adresw picked up a decision in the win.

Robert Friday and Kurt Bullinger picked up pins and Seckman, Wittick and Griffeth each picked up another pin against Riverton to close pool wrestling.  Andrews and Olson earned major decisions in the dual and Bays added a decision as well.

The three wins in pool wrestling put the Panthers up against Lander in the first round of the bracket. Coach Nate Urbach shuffled weights a bit, and JV wrestler Dewey Schwahn answered with a 12-11 decision to go with decisions by Griffeth, Bays, Wittick, Andrews and Olson. Seckman recorded his fourth pin and Colbee Craig recorded a pin as well.

The win set up the dual with Star Valley, a perennial power that has been competing in 4A the past two years, but will be back as a 3A rival next year. An open weight due to an injury to Colt Nix at 140 started the Panthers down 6-0, but Bays earned a decision and Seckman’s pin put them up 9-6. Olson won an 8-6 decision and Andrews won by forfeit to put the Powell crew up 18-6, but the Star Valley big men put the Braves ahead 22-18 with a pin of Bullinger and a major decision over Griffeth.

Wittick’s quick pin made the score at 103 gave the lead back, but it was short-lived as Colbee Craig was pinned, and the Braves padded their lead with two close wins. Friday wrestled to a 5-5 tie through two periods before falling 8-5 in the third, and Jesse Craig went into s second overtime before giving up an escape to lose by one.

Wozney lost by pin, and Star Valley forfeited the last bout to Brendan Phister to finish a 40-30 win over the Panthers.

Urbach said the match could easily have gone the other way, and the absence of Nix, who suffered a mild concussion against Laural early in the week, and Dylan Rood, who is recovering from a knee injury incurred in Rapid City.

“I think Colt could have handled their guy at 40,” Urbach said. “Robert’s (Friday) and Jesse’s (Craig) matches could have gone the other way.”

In the third place match, the Panthers responded by winning the seven matches to take a 40-0 lead. Seckman, Andrews, Fabio Soto, Bullinger, Griffeth and Wittick all scored pins and Olson added a major decision. Friday, Craig and Bays also recorded pins in the match and Phister came through with a takedown in overtime for a 12-10 decision and a 61-18 win.

The tournament closes 2010 for the wrestlers. Following the break, they will wrestle a JV matchat Rocky Mountain on Jan. 6. and are scheduled to compete in the Bozeman Invitational Jan. 7 and 8.

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