by nathan oster
2012 will begin with a bang on the prep sports scene, as the Greybull Buffs will have their first head-to-head encounters of the season later this week with highly regarded Lovell Bulldog teams.
In wrestling, it’ll be a matchup of No. 1 against No. 3 when the Bulldogs and the Buffs square off in a 3 p.m. dual Friday, Jan. 6 at Buff Gym.
It is the first of three duals held in conjunction with the Big Horn County Dual Championships. After the Lovell-Greybull clash, the Bulldogs will square off against Rocky, followed by the Buffs and Grizzlies in the finale.
G-R Coach Mark Sanford said that while Rocky Mountain is “small in numbers, they do have a couple of tough kids,” including Jake Jones, who was a state finalist each of the past two seasons.
Lovell, the top-ranked 2A team in the state, will bring a solid team to Buff Gym. “They brought back a very complete team, with competitive wrestlers up and down their lineup,” said Sanford. “They are probably not settled out in all of the weight classes they are going to want to be in, but they certainly have a very talented team.”
The Buffs will actually open the weekend with a dual against Thermopolis at 7 p.m. today (Thursday, Jan. 5) at Buff Gym. The Bobcats are back in 2A this year, and while they, too, lack numbers, they have several quality wrestlers.
“There will be some matchups that will be competitive — probably more so than we want,” said Sanford.
Some kids were out of town for the holidays, but the Buffs still had good practices, according to Sanford.
As 2011 drew to a close, injuries were a concern. Sanford said some of his banged-up kids are getting closer to being ready to go, including Matt Grovenstein and Levi Kelly.
Rob Nuttall, one the team’s top returnees, will not be ready to return to the lineup this week, however.
Greybull’s basketball teams will open the 2012 portion of their schedule with road games in Lovell on Friday, Jan. 6 and home games against Burlington on Saturday, Jan. 7.
The boys game Friday night will feature two of the top four ranked 2A teams in the state. Lovell, which has lost just once, sat at No. 2 in the final poll of 2011, behind only Wind River.
The Buffs ranked fourth, one spot behind Burns and one spot ahead of Wyoming Indian.
Those rankings are likely to change this week, given Wyoming Indian’s triumph over Wind River at the Fremont County Shootout during the holiday break.
The lineup of games in Lovell on Friday will begin with the two junior varsity games at 4 p.m. The varsity girls game will follow at 5:30, followed by the varsity boys contest at 7 p.m.
In an interview last month, GHS Coach Jim Prather called Cody Savage, Lovell’s 6-6 big man, “one of the best post players in the state at any level” and said Colin May “is an excellent point guard who can get into the lane on just about every possession if he chooses.
“We will have our work cut out for us trying to defend this talented inside-outside combination.”
The girls game will feature a Lovell team that was ranked No. 1 in the state in the final poll of 2011 and a Greybull squad that opened the year with three wins in its first four starts before dropping its final five before the break.
On Saturday, the Buffs will face Burlington. Games are scheduled for 1 p.m. (junior varsity), 2:30 (varsity girls) and 4 p.m. (varsity boys).