by nathan oster
Lane Nielson and Cole Hill won their weight classes and Greybull-Riverside placed fifth as a team in Saturday’s Greybull Memorial Invitational Tournament at Buff Gym.
Nielson, going a little lighter than usual at 170 pounds, was on the mat for just 1 minute, 35 seconds, making quick work of Milton Peden of Thermopolis and Dylan North of Rocky Mountain to earn his first title with G-R.
Hill was equally impressive, scoring pins over his first two opponents to earn a spot in the 152-pound final opposite Tyler Lindquist of Rocky Mountain.
Lindquist entered the weekend as the No. 2 ranked 152-pounder in 2A, so Hill’s 4-2 victory in Saturday’s final established the Riverside junior as another serious contender for the crown — if he stays at 152. Hill had been wrestling at 160.
Sanford said the landscape at 152 might be more favorable for Hill than the one at 160, where Macen Petersen of Cokeville and Cody Ellison of Lyman occupy the top two spots in the most recent wyowrestling.com rankings.
“Not saying there aren’t solid kids at 152 — because there are,” said Sanford. “They’re still solid, but I think they are kids we can outwrestle.”
On those wyowrestling.com rankings, G-R has moved up to fourth in 2A. When the season began, G-R was nowhere to be found in the rankings.
Given that, the fifth-place finish on Saturday came as a disappointment to Sanford, who was hoping his team would crack the top three.
Rocky Mountain won it with 149 points, followed by 3A Lovell with 124 and Thermopolis with 110. Powell, which primarily brought JV wrestlers, ranked fourth with 96.5, followed by G-R with 87.
“If we’d have placed where I thought we would at a couple of weights, we’d have been right up in there in the mix,” said Sanford.
Greybull-Riverside’s other placers were Marshall Gibbs, who took third at 126, and Matt Romero, who was fourth at 145 pounds.
Gibbs had a good day. He went 3-1, with his only loss coming in the semis to Luciano Castle of Thermopolis. Gibbs was up 2-0 on Castle at one point before getting put on his back and pinned late in the second period.
His win in the third-place match was a come-from-behind effort. At one point, Kurt Leseberg of Dubois had Gibbs wrapped up tight and was on the verge of a pin before Gibbs rallied to score a pin of his own in 1:49.
“Marshall Gibbs has a lot of guts,” said Sanford. “Most guys get put in a body scissor, as tight as the one that guy had on us, and they would give up. But not Marshall. He keeps going and because of that, he keeps himself in matches. It was a great win for him.”
Romero went a combined 3-2, with his only losses to J.D. Jaeger of Shoshoni. Romero lost the first encounter by pin but wrestled him tougher in the third-place match, falling 13-6.
Sanford continues to see progress in Romero’s efforts, as well as those of his other 145-pounder, Nick Schlattmann. Schlattmann won his first match by pin and wrestled Michael Bowman of Rocky Mountain tough in a 5-0 loss before going down to Romero in the consolation semifinals 2-0.
The other G-R wrestlers came up short in their bids to place.
Tre Nelson, G-R’s 113-pounder, didn’t wrestle due to injuries.
Jorge Carmona, also less than 100 percent, was unable to make a run at 120, going 1-2 before bowing out in the consolation semis with a 13-7 loss to James Moore of Powell.
The good news at 132 is that Chris Ogg was back in the lineup after dealing with injuries for the first two months of the season. The bad news is he went 0-2, losing his first match by pin and his second in heartbreaking 5-4 fashion. Ogg will get there, Sanford said, noting that once the Greybull senior is back up to full speed, he’ll be a threat to score points at every meet.
A tough draw hurt G-R’s other 132-pounder, Ryan Peoples, who went 0-2.
Ashton Wollam went 1-2 and didn’t place at 138.
Chase Peoples, another 138-pounder, had an even tougher draw, losing major decisions to Joey Mickelson of Lovell and Shay Bond of Rocky Mountain.
Taven Pharris, a freshman, went 0-2 at 160 pounds.
Billy Jones also went 0-2, losing both of his matches at 285 pounds. Sanford said Jones was showing good things in his first match against R.J. Davila of Lovell and was up 7-2 before Davila turned the tables for a 9-7 win.
On Friday night, G-R routed Wright, 42-22. While a number of their wins came via forfeit, the team did get noteworthy wins from Cole Hill, Matt Romero and Billy Jones.
And even though they lost, Chris Ogg and Nick Schlattmann turned in nice efforts. Ogg was within four points of the No. 1 ranked 132-pounder in the state, Trenton Smith, heading into the final period before running out of gas and getting pinned.
Schlattmann lost a sqeaker, 3-2, and “is so close to making good things for happen for us.”
Sanford will be looking for improvement from all of his wrestlers this weekend, but because of the nature of the Ron Thon Tournament, it might now reveal itself in winning efforts.
Tournament don’t come any tougher than the Ron Thon.
“Most of our kids will be in JV,” said Sanford. “What we need most is mat experience, and for most of them, going two and out against 3A and 4A kids isn’t going to be beneficial for them. Hopefully we can battle a little bit and get some good efforts.”