by nathan oster
With five wrestlers reaching finals and two more vying for third, Greybull-Riverside was in a position to challenge for the team title in Saturday’s Greybull Memorial Invitational at Buff Gym before a medal-round shutout left the team in third place.
“We just did not finish,” said G-R Coach Mark Sanford. “Never in my coaching career have I had a round like that — where we had that many kids in the medal rounds and not a single one of them won.”
Lovell, with three finalists and two who went on to claim titles, won the tournament with 145 points. Shoshoni, with two champs among their five finalists, followed with 132 points. Greybull-Riverside finished with 108.5 points, nipping Powell’s mix of varsity and JV wrestlers who tallied 92.5.
While it was a disappointing final round for the hosts, the silver lining is that they were even in that position. Only Shoshoni had as many finalists as G-R. “It was good that some of our kids got where they did — they had to wrestle well in order for that to happen,” said Sanford.
The five G-R finalists, all of whom finished second, included 138-pounder Cole Hill, 152-pounder Jesus Burgos, 195-pounder Zane Edeler, 220-pounder Spencer Redland and heavyweight Tanner Bernstein.
Finishing in third for G-R were 145-pounder Chase Peoples and 170-pounder Anthony Eibert.
Hill, who had been going at 145, dropped down a class. Sanford said the idea was to give Hill a better opportunity to place at state. One problem: Zack Larson of Thermopolis, who had been ranked second at 145, had the same idea. The two met in the 138-pound final. Larson won by the slimmest of margins, 1-0. To reach the final, Hill had to beat a quality foe in Rocky Mountain’s Tyler Lindquist, the No. 2 ranked 138-pounder. Hill won that one, 3-2. Overall, he went 2-1 in the tournament.
Burgos byed into the semifinals, where he beat a “stout hombre” in Wind River’s Dylan Lookingbill, 13-2. The win catapulted the GHS senior into the finals, where he met Alex Ferguson of Wright, a wrestler he decisioned 8-5 on Friday night. Ferguson got the better of Burgos in the rematch, however, winning 3-1 to claim the title. Sanford said the difference in the two matches is that Burgos wrestled aggressively early in Friday’s match, built a lead, and kept adding to it as Ferguson scrambled to catch up. The final was a different story. Each wrestler had only an escape to their credit until Ferguson recorded the match’s only takedown with 30 seconds remaining.
Edeler won his first match by technical fall and his second by pin to advance to the finals for a matchup against Zeke Collins of Lovell. Edeler had beaten Collins previously, and was up 8-3 at one point in Saturday’s match before it began to unravel on him. Collins scored an escape, then a takedown … and moments later, caught Edeler for a pin to snatch the victory. Sanford called it “a match we shouldn’t have lost,” adding that Edeler needs to learn that it’s OK to win by decision and doesn’t always need to go for the pin.
Redland found himself in a top-heavy 220-pound class. Joining him were Powell’s Riley Stringer and Sterling Baker of Dubois. Redland, who byed into the semis, got past Stringer, winning 3-1 in overtime. But Baker continued to be his kryptonite. A reigning state champ and the top-ranked 185-pounder in the state, Baker has had Redland’s number. The RHS senior wrestled him better than he has in the past. In fact, it was 2-1 entering the third. Baker eventually held on to win 3-1 — although Sanford liked what he saw from Redland, who was just a split second away from scoring a late takedown to knot the match.
Bernstein, the No. 1 ranked 285-pounder in the state, won his first two matches by pin to earn a date with Galen LaGois of Shoshoni in the final. Bernstein had beaten LaGois twice previously — and was wrestling well again Saturday when he got put on his back and pinned in the second period. Tanner “needs to wrestle his match” and not put himself in bad positions, according to Sanford.
Peoples had a good tournament for G-R. After drawing and losing by tech fall to the No. 1 seed in his first match, Peoples pinned teammate Tyler Wollam to advance to the third-place match. In it, he lost by fall to Shay Bond of Rocky Mountain. Sanford said he is confident Peoples can fare better against Bond in future matchups.
Eibert, at 170, led the team in drama. After beating Tyler Strobl of Wright in his opener and then losing to the eventual champ Ben Flickinger of Cody in the semis, Eibert snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when he pinned Cody McFarland of Thermopolis. At the time, he was trailing 15-9. The win propelled Eibert into the third-place match, where the tables were turned on him. Eibert was beating Ty Dearcorn of Powell 12-3 when he got reversed and pinned early in the third period. “One of the matches we definitely should have won,” said Sanford.
Other Buffs who competed on Saturday but did not place included:
• Jorge Carmona, who went 1-2 at 113 pounds.
• Marshall Gibbs, who “wrestled tough” at 126 pounds. Sanford said Gibbs came from behind to beat a wrestler from Wright and refused to get pinned in his two losses, both of which came to ranked opponents. Gibbs “hasn’t been giving up his back … which is a good step for Marshall,” said Sanford.
• Ashton Wollam, who went 1-2 at 132, but like Gibbs, “keeps showing improvement,” according to Sanford.
• Nick Schlattmann, who lost both of his matches at 138;
• Tyler Wollam, who went 1-2; and
• Billy Jones, who went 0-2 at 220 pounds.
The weekend began with a 45-22 dual win over Wright. It was Senior Night, as the Buffs honored Edeler, Redland, Burgos, Bernstein and manager Kara Michelena.
Take away the forfeits and the dual was much closer than the 45-22 final suggests.
Burgos had one of the biggest wins of the night for G-R, beating Ferguson 8-5 at 152. Ferguson entered the match ranked higher than Burgos, who wrestled an aggressive, smart match, according to Sanford.
Also recording pins for G-R were Cole Hill and Anthony Eibert, and while they didn’t win, Sanford was very pleased with the efforts of Marshall Gibbs, who lost 9-5 to Nathan Martinez (the No. 5 ranked 126-pounder in 2A); and Dylan Roberts, who was competitive in a 4-1 loss at 132.
“Marshall is improving. He’s learning that the longer you stay in a match, the better your chances of doing something,” said Sanford. As for Roberts, Sanford said he battled all six minutes, refusing to give up the pin.
Speaking of the weekend as a whole, Sanford said, “We stepped forward, but we didn’t step through. We have to kick the door down. Period. We are getting closer. We are doing good things in matches … but we still do silly things. We could have won (the tournament).”
G-R will head to Riverton this week for the annual Ron Thon Invitational. Typically it’s the toughest tournament on the schedule. Sanford said he anticipates entering most of his wrestlers in the JV division, with the exceptions being the five kids who made finals last weekend.
“When we hit this thing, those guys have to be wrestling at their peak, doing some real moving and shaking, because there are no slouches at this tournament. Guys have to be wrestling six minutes. Same with the JV kids. We want them moving forward, too.”