by nathan oster
Greybull-Riverside didn’t get the performance it was looking for at the Class 2A West Regional in Shoshoni.
The Buffs went in knowing they’d need a good weekend from everyone to put themselves in the best possible position for this weekend’s State 2A Wrestling Championships in Casper, and while there were some important breakthroughs, the majority created not just hills, but “mountains” for themselves to climb.
“I thought it would be tough to catch Lovell and Cokeville,” said Coach Mark Sanford. “And we had only one guy less than they did in the finals — but as was the case all season, they finished, we didn’t finish.”
Lovell won the team title with 202.5 points. Cokeville was second with 182. G-R landed in third with 135. Thermop rounded out the top four with 119.5.
“We just didn’t have a lot of guys coming through like we needed on the backside,” Sanford said. “And when you don’t get into the top four, you tend to have a tougher road at state — and that certainly proved itself to no end with us.”
Two years removed from being state champs, the Buffs will need to overcome some mighty big obstacles this week in Casper, where Lovell, Cokeville and Moorcroft (the winner of the 2A East Regional) will be the teams to beat.
“We had six guys who didn’t place at regionals, which was way too many for us,” Sanford said. “We needed to have about three more of those guys break through and place. Now, out of those six, we drew four No. 1 seeds and one No. 2 seed (in the opening round at state).”
Here’s a weight-by-weight look back at regionals and ahead to state:
Kyle Strasheim went in as the No. 4 seed. He lost his opener to James Teichert of Cokeville, getting pinned in 3:10, but rallied to win his next two, pinning Tia Hampton of Wind River in 2:38 and Chester Broadbent of Shoshoni in 2:16 to finish third.
Sanford said Strasheim (15-20) had a good tournament and set himself up well for state. As a No. 3 seed, he gets an opening-round bye but will likely face Thomas Garvie, a junior from Lingle-Fort Laramie who is 17-7 and a No. 2 from the East. “(Garvie) was the No. 1 seed going in and he got upset,” said Sanford. “He’s a quality kid, and we’re going to hit him in the quarterfinals.”
Senior Matt Grovenstein pinned each of his first two opponents (Mark Ballou of Shoshoni and Lovell’s Preston Blankenship, who didn’t make weight at 113) to earn a date opposite Macen Peterson of Cokeville in the final.
Sanford said Grovenstein got the better of Peterson at the Wind River tournament and on the verge of winning the match 8-7 when he was called for stalling. That point lifted Peterson into a tie, and in the overtime, it was Peterson who scored the first takedown to get the win.
Sanford said he questioned the stalling call — and that it was a tough break for Grovenstein. “He put himself in a position to be a No. 1 seed and had the match in hand,” Sanford said. “If we’d had done a couple things differently earlier on, it wouldn’t have come down to that.”
With his second-place finish, Grovenstein set himself up well for state. He’s 21-8, but unfortunately, on the same side of the bracket as Luke Lovett of Moorcroft, who is the No. 1 seed from the east. Lovett has beaten Grovenstein twice this season and is 29-2.
Chris Ogg went 1-2 and did not place at 126. Sanford said the key match for the freshman was his opener against Tyler Clemetson of Shoshoni, which he lost 8-0. Ogg responded to win his next time, beating Johny Mickelson of Lovell 12-4, but then bowed out when he was pinned by Garrett Julian of Kemmerer, who went on to take fourth.
As a non placer, Ogg (27-13) drew a No. 2 seed in Tyrell Lawrance of Moorcroft for his opener at state. “That’s a kid we can wrestle with,” Sanford said, noting that Ogg came within a point of him, 9-8, the last time the two squared off.
Ogg is also on the same side of the bracket as Colter Brown, the No. 1 seed from the West.
Levi Kelly went 2-2 and did not place at 132. All four of his match ended via pin. Kelly won two of them, beating Jake Loyning of Rocky and Zack Noffsinger of Wind River while losing to eventual champion Colton Lantz of Big Piney and Tyrell Toomer of Cokeville.
“There were a lot of quality kids at this weight, and Levi didn’t have any criteria to seed himself,” Sanford said.
Kelly (14-16) will face Lantz, the No. 1 from the West, in his state tourney opener. Sanford said Kelly had one very good moment in his regional matchup with Lantz, reversing the Big Piney senior and putting him on his back. But by the time the referee got into position, Lantz had worked his way out of it.
Jesus Burgos went at 138 for the Buffs and more than held his own, winning three of his five matches. Burgos beat Hyrum Hopkin of Lovell in the opener round, was pinned by Marty Thoman of Wind River in the semis, then won his next two by pin (over Alex Dayton of Cokeville and Jake McAdams of Big Piney) before being ousted by the eventual third-place finisher in Lovell’s Dimas Patina.
“Jesus did a good job,” Sanford said. “I would have loved getting that last win, but still, a good tournament for him.”
Burgos (16-22) did not get a favorable draw either, as he’ll face Cokeville’s Brock Teichert (32-14 and the No. 1 seed from the West) in the opening round at state.
Stephen Kerr entered as the No. 5 seed, but lost two of his three matches, including a showdown in the opening round with Adam Beck of Lovell and in the consolation round against R.J. Seaman of Hanna. “That last one was the match we needed to have,” Sanford said. It ended 5-3, but the two were tied at 3 all at one point in the third. “We needed to make some things happen on our feet and we just didn’t get it done.”
Kerr (19-16) must face Kemmerer’s Blake Mastrud, 40-4 and the No. 1 seed from the West, in the opening round at state.
Luke Zeller did what he needed to, pinning Zeke Collins of Lovell and eking out a 3-1 decision over Jake Jones of Rocky Mountain in the semifinals. But Nathan Grant again got the better of him in the final, winning 3-1.
Sanford said the top four kids at 152 all hail from the West – and any of them could win it. In addition to Grant, Jones and Zeller, Cokeville dropped its 160-pounder, Bronson Teichert, into the 152-pound class, and he was a fourth-place finisher at regionals.
Heading into state, Zeller (31-7) and Teichert are on one side of the bracket, while Jones and Grant, who waged an “epic battle” at regionals, are on the other.
Nathan Hetzel claimed G-R’s only regional title, as the senior won all three of his matches in Shoshoni. In the final, he won by default, as Thermopolis standout Chris Ryan did not take the mat. Sanford said Hetzel again crossed paths with Lovell’s Jacob Beck — and again, Hetzel came out on top, although it took overtime. The final was 5-3.
Looking ahead to state, Hetzel (28-7) could see Beck again in the semifinals. If he wins that, and Ryan rolls through his side of the bracket, it could be Hetzel and Ryan battling it out in the final.
Spencer Redland was a big contributor at 170 pounds, as the sophomore won three of four and captured third place. His only loss was to Jordan Johnson of Cokeville, who went on to take second.
Redland’s biggest win was over Jesse Hawk of Dubois. His brother Adam, a former state champ for the Buffs, is an assistant coach this year. “(Adam) told him before the match that every time he loses to him, it’s because of a mistake, and he encouraged him to wrestle smart,” said Sanford. Spencer responded to the challenge, wrestling “an outstanding match. He didn’t make any mistakes. He took advantage of his openings.” In the end it was a 6-2 Redland win.
Going into state, Redland (14-8) will be a No. 3 seed and will face Nathan Ballard of Lovell in the opening roud. He’s on the same side of the bracket as Clayton Slavina of Moorcroft (No. 2 from the East) and Lovell’s Tony Rodriguez (No. 1 from the West).
Dylan Brenner lost two of three and did not place at 182. The match he needed to win was his opener against Kyle Benefield of Hanna. Brenner was competitive, trailing just 5-2 going into the third before eventually losing 12-4.
Brenner (11-16) was G-R’s only non-placer at regionals who didn’t draw a No. 1 or No. 2 seed for his state tourney opener. He’ll have a very winnable match against Tanner Wyse, a Southeast freshman who is 4-15. But it’ll get tougher in the quarters, where the opponent could be Sterling Baker, 35-7 and the No. 2 seed from the West.
With returning state finalist Gabe Villegas out due to injury, Sanford moved Rob Nuttall up two weight classes to 195. The Greybull junior battled valiantly before losing 9-2 to Miles Galovich of Thermopolis and 10-5 to Eli Moody of Lovell.
Because he was giving up so much weight, Nuttall “needed to outmaneuver” his heavier opponents and just couldn’t break through, Sanford said.
Nutall (8-7) will face the Riggen McIntosh of Lingle, the No. 1 seed from the East, in the opening round at state. If he wins, a rematch with Moody awaits.
Zane Edeler was another sophomore who had a super weekend, as he won his first two, both by fall, before running into Lovell’s powerhouse, Mark Grant, in the final. Grant again got the better of him — recording the pin in 3:31.
But Sanford said it was a great showing for Edeler, noting that he won the match he needed to win, beating Wyatt Fig Houston of Hanna in the semis.
“Zane ended up putting himself right where he needed to be going into state,” Sanford said.
Edeler (21-16) drew a Shoshoni wrestler who is 5-22 for his opener. If he wins that, he’ll likely face Kemmerer’s Logan Welch, a wrestler he defeated earlier in the season. But if he takes care of business, Edeler could find himself opposite Grant once again in the final. Sanford said he can wrestle with Grant…”he just needs to go for it and not be afraid to make a mistake.”
Trenton Kelly went 1-2 and did not place at regionals. His only win was a pin of Charles Oldman of Wind River. Before and after, he lost matches to Justin Irene of Hanna and Jacob Asay of Lovell.
Kelly has an opening round bye and will likely face Lusk’s Tylen Arnett, the No. 1 seed from the East, in the quarterfinals.
Sanford said the Buffs probably didn’t position themselves well enough to challenge for the state title, but a top four finish remains the goal. “And even that’s going to be tough,” he said, noting that the Buffs would likely need to fend off Wright, Lingle and possibly even Thermopolis.