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Fourth place by two points

Five Panthers medaled and every varsity wrestler contributed team points as Powell wrestled to a fourth-place finish in the Ron Thon Memorial in Riverton last week, just two points behind conference rival Worland in the final standings.

Defending 4A state champion Gillette won the tournament by a comfortable margin and Natrona County, also a 4A school, finished second, just 9.5 points ahead of the Panthers. Defending 3A state champion Douglas finished ninth, more than 40 points behind the Panthers.

Olie Olson and Randy Andrews both reached the finals for the Panthers before settling for second place. Olson pinned three opponents on his way to the finals at 160 before losing a 6-2 decision to Burke Burgess of Gillette. Andrews followed a first-round bye with a 7-3 decision and a third period pin, then defeated Greybull/Riverside’s Clay Cundall 6-3 to face Kaleb Hoyt of Rocky Mountain in the 171 finals. Hoyt squeezed out a 3-2 decision and Andrews finished with second.

Jim Seckman defeated a Star Valley wrestler 8-2 and scored a technical fall at 152 to earn a place in the semifinals, where he lost to Gillette’s Trevor O’Dowd 11-6. He came back to pin another Gillette wrestler and edge out Caleb Rhoades of Natrona County 9-8 for third place.

Jessee Craig won his second-round 119 match over a Gillette wrestler, but lost in the quarterfinals to Josh Hillhouse of Kelly Walsh, the eventual champion. He came back to take two decisions and face Blaze Cress of Cheyenne East, and lost on a 5-2 decision to finish fourth.

Colt Nix reached the semifinals at 140 with a pin and a 5-4 decision over Reed Burgener of Douglas, but lost a decision to Brodey Serres of Lingle-Fort Laramie, the eventual champion and the tournament’s outstanding wrestler. He came back with a win over Worland’s Jeff Redland but lost to Cormick Eaton of Kelly Walsh.

Among the non-placers, Charles Wittick (103) finished 2-2 and missed the medal round by one point when he lost to a Cheyenne Central wrestler 7-6. Dylan Rood (112), Luke Wozney (130), Robert Friday (125) and Anthony Lujan (135) also went 2-2 for the weekend, while Danny Harris (189), Trevor Griffeth (215) and Kurt Bullinger (285) all were 1-2.

Nine Panthers entered in the JV division at Riverton and three came away with medals. Zac Thompson reached the finals at 171 and finished second, while Brendan Phister (135) and Clay Saldana (160) wrestled to fifth. Nathan MacDonald (145) Colbee Craig (112) and Mark Schiermeister (189 all finished 2-2. At 112, Matt Widdicome and Grant Nickles both were 1-2, with Widdicome’s second loss coming to Colbee Craig, and Tyler Showalter (152) finished 1-2 as well.

Coach Nathan Urbach said he felt his team wrestled well during the weekend despite finishing behind Worland. But finishing ahead of all but two 4A schools was a big plus.

“We were fourth in the entire state, all classes,” Urbach said. “We beat Star Valley and that’s always good.”

Urbach noted that, with Waylon Bays out due to an injury, the Panthers left one weight open. Bays will be back at practice this week, but will not wrestle again until next week.

Some things happened that were “a little different,” Urbach said, “but it was good for us to have them happen now. There’s a couple of things we need to get a littel bit better on.”

The Panthers complete their regular season this week with two duals. Tuesday (tonight) they travel to Cody to take on the Broncs. Varsity wrestling will begin at 6 p.m. in the Cody High School gym, with JV matches to follow.

Friday night the Worland Warriors will visit the Panther gym in a dual of the top two 3A schools in the state. Middle school wrestlers will open the evening at 4 p.m. followed by JV matches at 6:30 and varsity wrestling at 7 p.m.

Next week Powell will host the West Regional meet, Feb. 17-18.

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