Every point counts: Panthers battle to fourth place

Posted 2/27/24

Every single point mattered for the Powell Panther boys’ wrestling team at the state tournament this past weekend, as Jimmy Dees’ pin in the championship match gave the Panthers a top …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Every point counts: Panthers battle to fourth place


Every single point mattered for the Powell Panther boys’ wrestling team at the state tournament this past weekend, as Jimmy Dees’ pin in the championship match gave the Panthers a top four finish the first time in four years.

That pin capped off a strong season for Dees, who pinned his way through the tournament en route to a 31-1 season and a title at 215 pounds.

His win by fall gave the Panthers the max of six points for the bout, and a team score of 147.5, just ahead of Rawlins which finished with 147.

“Jimmy had a great tournament and a great season,” coach Nick Fulton said. “Had pins all through the tournament, scoring the maximum amount of points. We were in a tight race trying to get on the podium and he had to pin to get our team on the podium and that makes it even more special.”

That gave the Panthers their first top four finish since the 2020 season when the team also finished fourth.

Powell got a lot of points from placers, with seven additional Panthers placing in the top six alongside Dees.

A key weight for Powell was 113 pounds, where Gabriel Whiting and Chevy Hill battled each other in the third place match after both lost difficult contests in the semifinals.

Both won in the consolation semifinal before matching up, where Whiting got the better of Hill to take home third for the second year in a row after taking third at 106 pounds last year.

“We doubled up medalists at 113 which is obviously a good problem to have,” Fulton said. “I talked to them Friday night and really stressed the importance of the team race. They both beat Rawlins kids in the consolation finals and then wrestled in the third place match. Whiting came out on top of it, they’re good teammates and good friends who had good seasons for us.”

Whiting finished 4-1 and Hill 3-2.

Another third place finish came at 285 pounds, as Doug Bettger battled back from a difficult semifinal loss Friday to earn a third place finish with a 6-4 decision over Mountain View’s Coby Jones to finish 4-1 on the weekend.

“Doug dropped one in the semis he wanted to win,” Fulton said. “You didn’t see him pouting, he showed a lot of character and integrity and wrestled for his team. We have high hopes for him next year.”

Wyatt Nicholson battled at 106 pounds, losing to the eventual state champion in Hudson Baker from Rawlins. He battled back in the semifinals to a fourth place finish and 3-2 record after a close 2-0 loss in the third place match to Tavin Vendetti of Green River.

“He’s (Baker) impressive. Wyatt rebounded well for us,” Fulton said.

Another fourth place finish came from McKale Foley at 165 pounds, who went 4-2 and battled back from a quarterfinal loss to earn his placement, getting pinned in the third place match to Sage Lonn of Rawlins.

“Talk about a kid that has improved,” Fulton said. “He wasn’t able to wrestle last year due to injury and he just got better every weekend. Put together a great tournament.”

Wyatt Heffington took fifth place at 138 pounds, battling back from an opening round loss to advance to the placement matches on Saturday.

All of Heffington’s matches were decided via pin, with the senior finishing 4-2 on the weekend, capped by a 2:03 win against Scott Larson of Newcastle.

“He dropped his first round match and wrestled all the way back to the fifth place match,” Fulton said. “He’s a kid that has worked for four years, it’s outstanding to see him get a medal and I was awfully proud of him.”

The final placer for Powell came from Dusty Carter, who battled back from an opening round 6-2 loss to the eventual state champion in Brady Roberts from Evanston before winning four out of five matches to place fifth, ending with a pin of Torrington’s Bryce Hager in 3:51.

“What a competitor,” Fulton said. “He gave him (Roberts) all he wanted. He then fought tooth and nail back through.”

Powell had several competitors come up just short of placement, losing in the final round just before the consolation semifinals.

Those competitors were Talon Nuss at 106 pounds (2-2), Jeremy Harms at 150 pounds (2-2), Mitchel Wainscott at 157 pounds (2-2) and Jonathan Harms at 285 pounds (2-2).

“Talon dropped his first match but then battled back and fell in the blood rounds. That gives him good experience and we are excited to have him back … He (Wainscott) certainly shouldn’t be ashamed of himself. He works hard all the time, I wouldn’t be shocked if he was in title contention in a year,” Fulton said. “Jeremy has so much heart and so much try in him. He does the right things all the time … Jonathan wrestled his heart out. Those Harms boys are good kids and we wish them the best in the future, they’ve meant a lot to the program.”

Other Panther competitors included Patrick Haney and Cody Seifert at 144 pounds who both went 1-2; Jacob Eaton at 215 pounds (1-2) and Tyler Wenzel at 126 pounds (0-2).



After placing fourth this season the Panthers have high hopes heading into next year, returning six out of eight medalists and all state qualifiers except four while 3A will see a new champion regardless next year.

With the reclassification the Panthers will not have to compete against two-time defending state champions Green River next year, which along with Evanston and Riverton, all move up to 4A.

“That’s a pretty bright future,” Fulton said. “Our nucleus is the same. We are excited about our chances next year. I think people around the state sold us short all year and thought we were in that sixth place position. We kind of made a statement, I like our chances for next year and have a legitimate chance to be in the title conversation but we have to do the right things in the offseason.”