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Panthers take regional runner-up

Panther wrestler Jim Seckman controls his Lyman opponent in the quarterfinal round on his way to a gold medal at the West Regional meet in Powell last weekend.  Seckman pinned all three of his opponents during the meet to go into the state tournament as the top seed from the west at 152 pounds. Panther wrestler Jim Seckman controls his Lyman opponent in the quarterfinal round on his way to a gold medal at the West Regional meet in Powell last weekend. Seckman pinned all three of his opponents during the meet to go into the state tournament as the top seed from the west at 152 pounds. Tribune photo by Don Amend

Panthers win five titles, but Worland wins regional title

The Powell Panthers’ three-year reign over West Regional wrestling came to an end Saturday as the Worland Warriors came from behind to win the West Regional title.

Ten Panthers reached the finals as did nine Warriors, and both teams finished with five champions, but Worland took better advantage of the wrestlebacks, placing eight in the third and fourth place bouts compared to Powell’s four, picking up advancement points that overcame a five-point Powell lead after Friday’s semifinals to take the championship.

Jessee Craig, Waylon Bays, Jim Seckman, Olie Olson and Randy Andrews all finished the week with championships. Colt Nix lost a one-point match to Worland’s Jeff Redland to finish second, and Charles Wittick, Dylan Rood, Robert Friday and Trevor Griffeth also finished second. Third-place finishers were Colbee Craig and Kurt Bullinger while Tyler Patterson and Zach Patterson finished fourth.

The final round featured five matchups between Powell and Worland, and the Warriors came away with four of the matches. Wittick, Rood and Friday faced the powerful Warrior trio of Justin Lewton, Jay Stine and Jared Leithead, who will enter this week’s state tournament with a combined 129-14 record.

Wittick, who had lost to Lewton a week earlier by a pin, gave Lewton a battle this time before giving up a 6-2 decision. Rood also avoided a repeat of the earlier pin he had given up to Stine, but lost 9-0, and Friday also held on but lost an 8-0 decision.

Nix and Redland each reached the finals by pinning two opponents, but the pair struggled to gain the advantage in their finals. The match ended with both wrestlers on their feet as Nix was unable to score the winning takedown for the Panthers in the closing seconds.

Randy Andrews won the fifth Panther/Warrior matchup for Powell in a tight battle with Dane Dooley. The match was tied after six minutes, and Andrews scored the winning takedown in the first overtime period to take the win. Jessee Craig and Bays both defeated Lander wrestlers, Craig besting Derek DeBolt 7-3 and Bays taking Garret Maser 5-3. Seckman pinned Rodney Carter of Pinedale in the second period of his final match and Olie Olson scored a 9-2 decision over Drake Menck of Mountain View.

Colbee Craig and Bullinger earned their third-place medals with wins over Worland. Craig’s 10-8 win was at the expense of Kyle Strasheim and Bullinger pinned Hanes Porter just before the end of the second period.

Tyler Patterson, who was sent to the consolation bracket with a semi-final defeat by Seckman, reached the third-place match by pin, but lost to Worland’s Joe Mitchell to settle for fourth. Zach Thompson worked his way through the wrestlebacks before dropping a one-point decision to Clay Espinosa of Lander in his match for third and fourth.

Worland finished the weekend with 251.5 points to Powell’s 230. Lander finished third with 166, followed by Mountain View (104), Cody (76), Jackson (56), Pinedale (31) and Lyman (30).

Among the non-placing wrestlers, Jared Wantulok, Drew Feller, Anthony Lujan, Brendan Phister, Dewey Schwahn and Clay Saldana fell just one win short of reaching the medal matches, and qualified for the state meet. Also qualifying by finishing in the top eight were Luke Wozney, Danny Harris and Mike Mundy.

The Panthers will travel to the state tournament this weekend hoping to turn the tables on the Warriors, while the defending state champion Douglas Bearcats, who dominated the East Regional tournament last weekend, will try to hold off the western powers and retain their championship.

Pairings for the opening rounds are already set, and can be found on the Wyoming High School Activities Association website at whsaa.org. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m. Friday in the Casper Events Center, followed by quarterfinal rounds at 1:30 p.m. Friday evening kicks off at 6:15 with the March of Champions followed by the championship semifinals.

Saturday’s action begins at 9 a.m. for wrestlebacks through the consolation semifinals. Third and fifth place matches begin at 2:30 and Championship matches at 5:30.

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