About 20 schools will descend on Powell this Friday and Saturday for the Powell High School Wrestling Invitational, which will officially begin the season for the Panther wrestlers.
This season there is a total of about 25 wrestlers for Powell High School, but only six are returning upperclassmen (two seniors and four juniors).
“Might be the youngest team I’ve ever had,” said head coach Nate Urbach.
But despite its youth, Urbach said the team has some “pretty good” talent and leaders.
“I like what we’ve seen so far; kids are working hard,” Urbach said, adding that the athletes also put in work during the offseason work.
Since last season, some members of the team traveled to Chadron State College, joining roughly 500 wrestlers at a camp and competing in 10-15 matches. The Panthers hosted their own camp in which college wrestlers came to assist, and also competed in Billings at the Mountain Open and in Denver at the Rocky Mountain Nationals.
Urbach said that at the Rocky Mountain Nationals, about 15 wrestlers competed which is “by far the most kids” he has ever had.
As for this opening weekend, “you never really know until you have competition against other teams,” Urbach said.
Some of the teams expected at the Powell Invite are Buffalo, Campbell County, Cody, Douglas, Dubois, Greybull, Lander, Lovell, Natrona County High School, Riverside, Riverton, Rocky Mountain, Sheridan, Shoshoni, Thermopolis, Wind River, Worland and Wyoming Indian.
“It’s always a question mark going into that first weekend,” Urbach said. “It’s a big question mark, but I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be fun.”
As far as the season as a whole, Urbach said “I think our kids are good, tough kids and they are working hard. It’s a long season and our goal is to keep improving every day, every week and it’s all
practice till state anyway.”
The state championship is set for Feb. 23 and 24 in Casper and regionals will be in Lyman on Feb. 16 and 17.
The PHS wrestling team has only two home duals scheduled this season, the first on Feb. 2 against Lander and the second on Feb. 6 against Cody.
At the Powell Invite, the PHS wrestling team will sell 50/50 raffle tickets for Wrestler’s Christmas.
Wrestler’s Christmas is an annual tradition in which coach Urbach receives a list of families who could use some assistance during the holiday season. The funds raised from the 50/50 raffle are used to purchase items for the families. The Powell team then wraps the items and delivers the presents to the unsuspecting families.
The goal of the Wrestler’s Christmas is to help 10-15 children each year.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Urbach said. “The kids really like it.”