by nathan oster
Greybull-Riverside went head-to-head with three of its top 2A rivals last week, and while the Buffs lost by the slimmest of margins to Thermopolis in their 2014 debut, they ended the two days of wrestling on a high note, notching wins over Lovell and Rocky Mountain to claim victory in the Big Horn County Dual Championships.
Coach Mark Sanford was pleased by the wins in Lovell, but said he’d have liked adding the Bobcats to their list of conquests as well.
The dual couldn’t possibly have been any closer. When it ended, the two teams were tied 42-42. Each team won seven matches, and all 14 of the matches ended in either a pin or a forfeit. G-R won seven. Thermopolis won seven.
A dual cannot end in a tie, though, so on to a list of tiebreaker criteria the decision went. Still, after seven of those potential tiebreakers, nothing was settled. On the eighth criteria, one taking into account the number of total first points scored in the contested weight classes, the Bobcats finished one takedown up on the Buffs — and for that, they were awarded the win.
The Bobcats came to town with some quality wrestlers, including “a couple who are ranked No. 1 in the state and another one who probably should be,” said Sanford. While second guessing some of his lineup decisions, he said the bottom line is, “This time of year, you want to match up with kids you are going to see down the road.”
Notching wins for G-R were Jesus Burgos (pin), Tanner Bernstein (pin) and Cole Hill, Spencer Redland, Zane Edeler, Jared Chavis and Dylan Roberts. Hill and Edeler also won exhibition matchups for G-R by pin, which factored into the tiebreaker scenarios as well.
Among the match winners for the Bobcats were Vinnie Castle, the No. 2 ranked 113-pounder in the state, who pinned Tre Nelson in the second period; Ryan Bradshaw, the top ranked 126-pounder, who pinned Marshall Gibbs late in the third period; and Zack Larson, the top-ranked 152-pounder, who pinned Tyler Wollam.
G-R went without Ryan Peoples, normally the team’s 132-pounder. Anthony Eibert, the 160-pounder, wrestled, but was ineffective due to an injured hand. He would sit out the team’s duals in Lovell on Friday.
“It was a dual we could have won,” said Sanford. “We talked about it on Friday. Maybe it comes down to being a little tougher, not giving up, just telling yourself you’re not going to get pinned. That was the topic of our meeting before we wrestled Lovell — and the kids responded well.”
G-R beat the Bulldogs 45-32.
Among the highlights of that dual were Dylan Roberts’ effort against Jacob Mickelson, a season wrestler who got fifth at state last year. Mickelson won the match, but Roberts hung in there well, taking the match the distance.
“Dylan’s in his first year of wrestling — and he wouldn’t let that kid pin him. Now he did get tech-falled, but that’s better than a pin. When he walked off the mat, I told, him, ‘Hold your head up high, you battle well and really got after it.’”
Cole Hill added a 16-0 win at 145, giving G-R a big lead going into a pivotal matchup at 152 between Lovell’s Hyrum Hopkin and G-R’s Jesus Burgos. A senior, Hopkin has a lot of mat experience. “Zeus put in a heck of an effort,” said Sanford. After a “cat and mouse” first period, Burgos built a big lead and eventually won 13-2. “It was a nice win for him.”
G-R also got wins by Spencer Redland, who pinned “a stout, strong kid” in Nash Jolley; and Tanner Bernstein, who pinned Jared Collins in the heavyweight matchup.”
Sanford also credited Tyler Wollam for wrestling a tough match at 160 and Jared Chavis, who was pinned in his return to the mat at 106.
Sanford thought Rocky Mountain would be an even tougher dual opponent for his team — but once again, G-R won the key matchups en route to a 48-30 team win.
In addition to giving up points on forfeits, Sanford said he likes this year’s Grizzly squad, noting that “they’ve got a really nice group of kids out, with a few standouts and more kids filling in behind them.”
The match started to shift at 145, when Hill won by pin, and continued at 152 and 160, which were the two key matchups of the dual.
At 152, Tyler Wollam rallied late to win by fall.
At 160, Burgos also won by pin after executing a great “double leg” takedown against “a really strong kid” in Ian Davidson.
“When we got those two wins, it put us in control,” said Sanford. “I knew that if we did what we were supposed to do from there on out, that we’d win it.”
Edeler, Redland, Bernstein and Nelson added to G-R’s point total, all winning by fall.
“Our effort on Friday was much better than it was on Thursday, when we were just coming out of the Christmas break,” said Sanford.
Looking ahead, Sanford said his team will match up better with the Bobcats down the road. Even though they won’t face off again in a dual, the two teams will see each other frequently in tournament settings.
Jorge Carmona, the team’s 120-pounder, is set to return soon, as is Ryan Peoples, the team’s normal 132-pounder — although Sanford noted that Dylan Roberts, who has been going at 132, has been impressive.
G-R will wrestle at the Don Runner Invitational this weekend. In attendance, in addition to a few teams from the 2A East, will be all the 2A teams from the western half of the state — making it a good preview of the regional meet coming up in February.
“We’ll get a lot of important head-to-head matchups that we need to see,” said Sanford. “Hopefully we come out on top in those.”