by nathan oster
Greybull-Riverside got wins from all five of its varsity wrestlers and finished in the middle of the pack in the most competitive tournament on the team’s 2013-14 schedule.
The Ron Thon Invitational in Riverton attracted all but two of the state’s wrestling teams and featured no pool wrestling, but rather single brackets for both varsity and junior varsity in each weight class.
For 2A teams like G-R, the tournament provides an opportunity to see how they stack up against the top wrestlers from 4A and 3A.
Powell, a 3A team, won the tournament, scoring 203 points. Sheridan was second with 153, followed by Gillette with 146 and Green River with 128.
Moorcroft led all 2A teams with 107.5 points, good for ninth overall. Cokeville placed 13th with 63. Greybull-Riverside was in the middle of the pack, taking 23rd with 41 points, one spot behind Thermopolis, which had 42.
“Not bad, but I think we could have done even better,” said Coach Mark Sanford, who entered the majority of his team in the junior varsity competition.
Redland, who goes at 220, was the only Buff who placed, earning a fourth place in a class won for the second week in a row by Sterling Baker of Dubois.
Redland didn’t face Baker in Riverton. Redland was on the opposite side of the bracket — and his bid for the title ended in the quarterfinals when he dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to Riley Stringer of Powell. It was the second epic matchup in as many weeks between Redland and Stringer. Redland had won the encounter at Buff Gym in overtime. Their matchup in Riverton wasn’t decided until after the second overtime.
Before facing Stringer, Redland had opened the tournament with a pin of Sean Larson of Cokeville. The RHS senior, after being bounced by Stringer, then went on a three-match win streak, beating Pat Forster of Shoshoni, Steven Swainson of Cheyenne South and Tory Music of Sheridan. All three were by decision.
That put Redland in the third-place match. A slow start cost him in that one. Brendon MacKearney of Gillette took it to Redland early, building 6-0 lead before Redland rallied in the third. Showing tremendous “will and heart,” Redland took MacKearney down four times in the period and was within a point, 9-8, when the buzzer sounded.
“We just ran out of time,” said Sanford. “It was a great effort by Spencer. He just needs to realize that he can wrestle with anybody on his feet; he’s only been taken down five times all year. He just needs to be a little bit more aggressive.”
Redland finished 4-2 for the weekend.
His teammates matched his intensity, according to Sanford.
Cole Hill, at 138, Jesus Burgos, at 152, Zane Edeler, at 195, and Tanner Bernstein, at 285, all wrestled hard and did good things on the mat, according to Sanford.
Hill, who didn’t have enough criteria to get seeded, had to open with the No. 3 seed, Andrew Von Rein of Lander. Hill was up to the challenge, especially early. At one point, Hill led 3-0 before a mistake cost him.
“We were walking into him and as we were reaching for him he hit a fireman’s on us,” said Sanford. Hill found himself on his back — and suddenly trailing 5-3. He never recovered, losing 7-4.
That left him with a big mountain to climb to reach the placing rounds. Hill almost did it, reeling off three straight wins — two by decision over wrestlers from Cheyenne East and Green River and one by pin over a Wheatland wrestler — before encountering Toby Reynolds of Moorcroft in the fourth round of the wrestlebacks.
That match followed similar script as his first one. Hill was up 4-0 and in control when he again got caught in a “fireman’s,” which “changed the complexion of the match” and led to his 5-4 demise.
Sanford said it was still a great tournament for Hill, noting that his wins were quality ones and that he proved he can wrestle with Reynolds, who he could see down the road at state.
Burgos was on track to win his opening-round match with Cody Ellison of Lyman. Burgos was up 15-6 when he “got rolled to his back and couldn’t wiggle out of it.”
The pin came with just 3 seconds left in the match, and with it, came the end of Burgos’ bid to go the entire season without getting pinned.
To his credit, Burgos didn’t wallow in the loss. He responded with a pin over Alex Machupa of Jackson before reaching the end of the line against Colton Hopkins of Green River. Hopkins won it 14-1.
“He didn’t look like ‘Zeus’ in that match,” said Sanford.
Still, the GHS senior got a win — and wrestled well overall.
Edeler shook off an illness to win a match at 195, beating Jordan Tucker of Green River by fall. Edeler “wrestles like a different animal when he’s mad” and it showed against Tucker, as the GHS senior overpowered him in 1:03.
Edeler couldn’t build on it, though, as he lost his next two by fall, to Zack Thompson of Powell and Jared McDaniel of Kelly Walsh. While Thompson got the better of him, Edeler was up on McDaniel at the time of the pin.
“That was a match we could have won,” said Sanford.
But like the others, Edeler was credited for “wrestling tough.”
Bernstein, meanwhile, continued to put up a good fight at 285. Badly outweighed in nearly all of his matches, Bernstein managed to record three pins en route to a 3-2 finish.
His only losses were to 3A wrestlers Woodrow Davidson of Rawlins and, in his tourney finale, Dane Chambers of Sheridan.
Sanford called it a great effort by Bernstein, noting that his wins over Andrew Lee of Rock Springs and Kegan Wells of Lander were impressive.
The JV division doesn’t get as much fanfare at the Ron Thon, but Sanford was quick to point out a number of success stories, headed by the arrival of 106-pounder Luis Burgos.
In his first competition of the season, Burgos went 6-1 and finished third in his weight class. “He was a little unsure of himself, but Luis was doing some really good things,” said Sanford. “Good for him, placing down there.”
Jorge Carmona and Tre Nelson also placed, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, at 113 pounds. Carmona went 5-2, Nelson 3-3. The two faced off in the fifth-place match, with Carmona winning 3-0.
Wrestlers who competed but didn’t place in JV included Marshall Gibbs, 1-2 at 126; Dylan Roberts, 1-2 at 132; Nick Schlattmann, 0-2 at 138; Ashton Wollam, 0-2 at 138; Chase Peoples, 1-2 at 145; Anthony Eibert, 1-2 at 170; and Billy Jones, 1-2 at 220.
Several achieved breakthroughs, including Schlattmann, who refused to get pinned in his two matches, and Jones, who recorded his first pin.
G-R will close the regular season with a dual tonight in Cody starting at 6 p.m. Then the focus shifts to the regional tournament, which is Feb. 22 in Lovell.