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Drama aplenty to open year

Early 2010 treated fans to titles, near-misses

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series recapping the major local sports accomplishments of 2010. The series will continue in Thursday’s edition.)

State and national glory, the pursuit of it and the bitter agony of nearly attaining it dominated Powell sports headlines at the start of the 2010 calendar year. Powell High School and Northwest College athletic teams combined to give local crowds plenty of reasons to jump to their feet and cheer.

For state glory, it is hard to stare at the early months of 2010 and not think of Auston Carter. The Panther senior was one of three state champions for head coach Nate Urbach’s wrestling squad (teammates Randy Andrews and Colt Nix were the others) and scribed his name to the most exclusive of state wrestling lists when he staved off a late challenge to become a four-time state champion.

Despite the honors, the Panthers left Casper with a bit of a bitter taste in their mouths after watching rival Douglas rally in the final four matches of the state tournament to score a one-point victory and deny the Panthers their third consecutive state team championship in the sport.

Panther wrestling mats weren’t the only ones celebrating achievement in the winter months though. Grapplers at Northwest College had plenty to cheer about as well.

Head coach Jim Zeigler’s squad set the tone in late January with a 20-point victory over North Idaho at the Apodaca Duals. The head-to-head win brought The Moose — a traveling trophy contested annually between the two programs — home to Powell.

The showing helped catapult the Trappers into the late season. Just one month later, the Trappers were on the mat at the NJCAA championships and enjoying the program’s most successful performance since bringing home a national title.

Seven NWC wrestlers returned to Powell with All-American credentials as a result of their performance in the meet. Headlining the group was sophomore heavyweight Landon Harris, who became the 10th national champion for the Trappers’ program.

On the hardwood, 2010 brought mostly last-second heartbreak. A loaded Powell High School girls’ basketball team watched as a last-second shot spun in and out of the bucket in the state championship contest against Jackson. The Panthers went on to fall in double overtime in the game.

Northwest College men’s basketball coach Andy Ward felt a similar pain as he spent much of the season positioning his men’s basketball team for a shot at the Region IX North title and the opportunity to play host to the post-season regional tournament. After spending the season bouncing in and out of the top 25 national rankings, the Trappers’ saw their post-season dreams evaporate on a single fateful night in Sheridan.

Needing a victory over Sheridan College to wrap up the North sub-region title, the Trappers saw themselves blown out of the contest early with a first half that saw the school struggle to just four first-half rebounds. Simply needing to avoid losing by 14 or more points to maintain post-season hosting rights, the Trappers watched in horror as the Generals stuck back an offensive rebound with 1.1 seconds remaining to score a 104-90 win.

The Trappers eventually went on to fall in the second round of the Region IX tournament. Later in the spring, events stemming from an off-campus party would force Ward to suspend some of the key components of his 22-win squad.

While the late season saw things go poorly for Ward’s team, the Yellowstone Quake, Wyoming’s only Junior A hockey team, saw the final weekend of the regular season come up aces. A pair of Friday and Saturday victories, combined by needed losses from its nearest competitor, saw the club vault into second place in the NORPAC America West division standings to earn home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

After easily moving past Missoula in the first round, the Quake built a 2-games-to-1 advantage in the divisional title series, only to see Helena pull away in the third period of games 4 and 5 to leave the Quake one victory shy of a spot in the NORPAC title series. Six players from the team would go on to earn spots on the league all-star roster.

After a couple near-misses, Powell High School scored an early-year state title when the Panther cheerleaders claimed their fifth title in 11 years as the group easily captured the state stunt title by a five-point margin on the judges’ ballots. The victory earned the squad the right to perform at the state basketball tournament in Casper and the community-standard fire engine welcome and impromptu parade befitting team titles.

Individually, Powell’s Kyle Sullivan earned a state indoor track title in the high jump. Drew MaGill narrowly missed a spot atop the podium with a runner-up finish in the triple jump. Colby Gilmore, Sullivan and a pair of Cody runners teamed up for a runner-up finish in the 4x400 relay.

Myron Heny saw himself enshrined in the Wyoming Sports Officials’ Hall of Fame after 35 years of working with a whistle. Longtime Powell sports icon Harold Farmer was honored with a spot on Powell High School’s Wall of Fame with a ceremony retiring his football jersey. Farmer was an accomplished track and football athlete for the Panthers and also coached rodeo, baseball and football for 19 seasons at Northwest College.

Trapper head volleyball coach Flavia Siqueira was honored with an award naming her one of the top 30 volleyball coaches under the age of 30 in the nation.

As winter turned to spring, the Panther soccer teams christened a new field located just to the north of the new high school. The Powell girls’ squad had the opportunity to play the first-ever varsity contest and defended the new home turf with a 2-1 overtime victory over Newcastle on a cold and blustery day. One day later, the team scored a 5-2 win against Torrington, marking the first time ever a PHS girls’ soccer team had opened the year 2-0.

Area readers also got a glimpse into major sporting events early in the year. Powell brothers Matt and Dave Wilson returned home shortly after New Year’s to share their tale of life behind the scenes at a major BCS bowl.

The pair was on the sidelines in uniform for Boise State as the Broncos scored a thrilling 17-10 victory over TCU to cap a perfect 14-0 season and catapult the school into a national debate over a playoff system and the role of non-BCS schools in the national championship picture.

In April, Cody residents Dave and Nick Snyder returned from a trip to Georgia to share what it was like to attend golf’s most prestigious event, The Masters. The Snyders’ trip coincided with the return of Tiger Woods to major golf competition, a dramatic performance by senior golfer Fred Couples and, ultimately, an emotional victory by Phil Mickelson.

And with all that, the 2010 sports calendar was just getting started locally.

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