Panthers take third in Riverton

Posted 2/9/10

The final standings were a big achievement for his team, according to Panther Coach Nate Urbach.

“Anytime you finish ahead of Gillette and Star Valley, you've got to feel good,” said Urbach. “To finish third is huge for …

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Panthers take third in Riverton


{gallery}02_09_10/phswrestling{/gallery} Auston Carter applies some leverage to turn his Lander opponent during a recent dual meet. Carter was Powell's only finalist at the Ron Thon Invitational at Riverton last week, finishing second to a two-time state 4A champion. The Panthers take on Cody at home on Tuesday (today) and meet Worland in a dual Thursday at Worland. Tribune photo by Don Amend Nine Powell Panthers came home with medals and the wrestlers piled up 163 points to finish third at Riverton's Ron Thon tournament last week.The Panthers trailed only Cheyenne Central and Green River in the 34-team field and finished just ahead of defending 4A champion Gillette. Among Powell's 3A rivals, Douglas edged Star Valley for fifth and Worland finished seventh.

The final standings were a big achievement for his team, according to Panther Coach Nate Urbach.

“Anytime you finish ahead of Gillette and Star Valley, you've got to feel good,” said Urbach. “To finish third is huge for us.”

Powell's top finisher was Auston Carter, who reached the 145-pound finals with wins over wrestlers from Laramie, Moorcroft and Gillette. In the finals, he faced Cheyenne Central's Austin Breckinridge, a defending 4A state champion, and gave up a 9-5 decision to finish second.

Randy Andrews reached the semi-finals at 140, where he lost to Rocky Mountain's J.R. Vezain, a two-time 2A state champion, by a 3-1 decision. Andrews came back with a close 1-0 win over Juan Rodriguez of Wright and a 10-2 win over Kendall Nuss of Casper Kelly Walsh to earn a third-place medal.

Olie Olson, Trent Gillett, Jimmy Seckman and Monte Nickles all finished fourth. Nickles came back from a second-round loss to Gillette's Alex Coolidge at 189 with three straight wins, including a 58-second pin, before falling to Tommy Thoman of Green River.

Seckman reached the 160-pound quarterfinals before losing a decision to Andy McCulley of Rock Springs, but he wrestled back with three wins to face Chris Ryan of Thermopolis in the third-place match. The two went into overtime before Ryan scored to take a 5-3 decision.

Gillett also wrestled back from an early loss at 135 and made it to the medal rounds by pinning Thomas Myler of Natrona County. After a 6-2 decision over Greybull/Riverside's Luke Zeller, a win by injury/default put him up against Green River's Jacob Flores, the wrestler who had defeated him earlier, and Flores again prevailed with a 20-7 decision.

Olson started off with two pins at 125, but lost his semi-final match to Ryan Slaugh of Rock Springs, the eventual second-place finisher. He came back with a 13-5 win over Dustin Kruckenberg of Kemmerer to face Worland's Jordan Osbon, who took third place by a pin.

Other medalists for the Panthers were Trevor Griffeth at 285 and Colt Nix at 130, both of whom finished fifth and Luke Wozney, who finished sixth at 112.

Nix reached the semi-finals before losing to the eventual champion, Leandro Arias of Cheyenne Central. He then lost a tough 5-4 decision to Chris Barnish of Gillette, but came pack to pin Wheatland's Andrew Blumer in the third period for fifth place.

Griffeth lost to Zac Haney of Rock Springs in his first match, but came back with two pins before losing, again to Haney, in the consolation semifinals. In his final match, he pinned Zach D'Amico of Natrona County early in the third period for fifth place.

Wozney lost his quarterfinal match to Kelly Walsh's Josh Hillhouse but wrestled back into the consolation semi-finals before losing a close 4-2 decision to Josh Materi of Thermopolis. The loss matched him against Hillhouse for the second time, and Hillhouse prevailed.

Both 119-pounder Jessee Craig and 160-pounder Cole Kary just missed the medal rounds. Kary was eliminated by Mason O'Dowd of Gillette in his final match and Craig lost his final match to Colton Lentz of Big Piney. At 103, Charles Wittick won two matches, but was eliminated in the consolation third round by Auston Vye of Cheyenne Central.

Wrestling at 145, Waylon Bays won one match before being eliminated. Zach Thiel competed at 125, but did not advance, nor did Joe Lujan at 215.

In the JV division, Robert Friday came away with the 112-pound championship for the Panthers.

Urbach chose to have both of his 171-pound wrestlers compete in the JV tournament, and Beau Williams took advantage of the opportunity to finish third, while Danny Harris wrestled to sixth. Kurt Bullinger also earned a third-place medal at 215.

Urbach was understandably happy with the Panther's performance, but said it didn't necessarily mean the path to a third straight state championship was going to be easy, despite the big lead the Panthers built over their closest 3A rivals, Douglas and Worland.

Of the 84 medals awarded at the Ron Thon, half went to 4A schools and 16 more to 2A schools, and only three championships were won by 3A wrestlers, so Urbach said the medal rounds will look much different at state.

“State is different,” Urbach said. “Take the 4A's out and the scores will be closer. Douglas has a bunch of really good kids, and Worland's really tough. It will be closer at state and we need to make sure our guys are ready.”

The Panthers close their regular season this week with two duals. Tuesday, they will entertain the Cody Broncs at 7 p.m. Thursday, they will travel to Worland to take on a strong Warrior team. That match is also scheduled for 7 p.m.

Regional competition will take place in Jackson Feb. 19-20, and the state tournament is scheduled for Feb. 26-27.