Eleven Panthers entered the competition and each of them won at least one match as Powell finished just one point behind Worland. The Warriors tied with Mitchell, S.D. for seventh place. Gillette, the only Wyoming team to finish ahead of Worland and Powell, won the tournament. South Dakota powers Pierre and Sturgis finished second and third and Bismarck, N.D. was fourth. Thirty-one teams took part in the meet.
Waylon Bays and Olie Olson led the Panthers with third place finishes. Bays won his first three matches at 145, pinning his quarterfinal opponent in 58 seconds, to reach the semi-finals, where he lost a close 3-0 match to Gillette’s Dani Fischer. He came back, though with two pins to win his bronze medal. Olson drew a first-round bye at 170, pinned his next opponent and reached the semis with a 11-6 decision. In the semis, he faced Aero Amo of Rapid City Central and lost a 13-2 decision, but he responded with a third period wrestleback pin to reach the third-place match and pin Kip Jangula of Bismarck in 53 seconds.
Randy Andrews (160), Charles Wittick (106) and Kurt Bullinger (220) also reached the semi-finals, before losing and each wrestled his way into the fifth place match. Andrews’ semi-final loss was to Gillette’s Tanner Olson, the tournament champion. He lost a 6-2 decision to a Winner, S.D. wrestler in the wrestlebacks, but took an 8-3 win over Vinny Gonzales of Windsor, S.D. for fifth.
Bullinger fell to Cody Benne of Rapid City Central in the semis and battled Worland’s Casey Hernandez, the top-ranked wrestler at 220 in Wyoming, before losing a close 6-4 decision in the wrestlebacks. In the fifth-place match he took Gillette’s Lucas Sather into three overtimes before giving up a point and losing 4-3 to finish sixth. Wittick gave up a decision to Brody Jorensen of Sturgis, S.D. and lost both of his wrestleback matches to finish sixth.
Powell’s final placer was 126-pounder Drew Feller, who lost to Russell Felicia of Chamberlain, S.D. in the second round but came back with two straight decisions and a win by default before losing so Jacob DeSersa of Hot Springs, S.D. The loss threw him into the seventh place match and he took a 3-1 decision over Ryan O’Connor of Sioux Falls Lincoln.
“We had a great day Friday,” said Coach Nathan Urbach. “Actually, we looked good Saturday, too, but we ran into some tough kids.”
Urbach noted that the semi-finalists all came back to wrestle hard in the wrestlebacks.
“It was good to see them show some heart and not give up after losing,” Urbach said.
Urbach was also happy that every wrestler won at least one match during the meet.
Among the non-placers, Dylan Rood finished 1-2 at 120 as dide Tyler Patterson at 170 and Zach Thompson at 182. Zach Thiel finished 3-2 at 138 and Danny Shinost was 2-2 at 195.
The Panthers will travel to Laurel, Mont. Tuesday (tonight) for a dual meet with the Locomotives, a defending Montana champion squad. The match presents a challenge, Urbach said, because Montana has not adopted the new weight class structure yet so he has to adjust his lineup accordingly.
“They’re a tough team, besides,” Urbach said.
This weekend, the Panthers travel to Worland for the Battle of the Big Horns, a dual meet tournament that begins Friday at noon with pool competition and continues with bracket competition on Saturday.
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