Wrestlers rise to the challenge
by nathan oster
Greybull-Riverside wrestlers made the most of their only appearance of the season at Buff Gym, beating Wright in dual action Friday night and then chalking up a third-place finish in their annual Greybull Memorial Invitational on Saturday.
With only 11 teams in attendance, it was a relatively small meet — at least compared to what the Buffs will see this weekend at the Ron Thon Invitational in Riverton. But Coach Mark Sanford still liked what he saw.
“As a whole, I’d say we made some nice gains,” Sanford said. “Individually, some nice things happened. But at the same time, there were also some things that didn’t happen that should have, and need to (in the future).”
The Buffs opened the weekend with a 51-26 win over Wright. Among the Buffs who posted impressive wins were Cole Hill, a 5-2 winner; Luke Zeller, who got a pin; and Tommy Bernstein, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by scoring a pin when he trailed 4-0.
Marshall Gibbs and Jarrod Johnson also won exhibition matches for the Buffs.
The Moorcroft dual was more of an exhibition because the Wolves were up against their event limit for the season. But several Buffs notched wins or were impressive in defeat.
The winners for G-R included Zeller, a tech fall winner at 160; Rob Nuttall, who scored a second-period pin in his return to the mat; Spencer Redland, who notched an overtime decision over the No. 2 ranked 195-pounder in 2A; Jesus Burgos, and Herme Mendez, who won with a first-period pin.
Sanford credited Marshall Gibbs and Cole Hill for wrestling well in defeat.
As for the tournament, Moorcroft, one of the teams to beat in 2A this season, nearly doubled up its closest pursuer, finishing with 255.5 points. Lovell was second with 128 points, followed by G-R with 100. The Powell JV took fourth with 98 points. Shoshoni rounded out the top five with 95.5 points.
The Buffs had no individual champions, as Burgos, Zeller and Redland all lost their finals matches and placed second.
At 120, Gibbs went 1-2, losing to the eventual champion, Ryan Bradshaw of Thermopolis, in the quarterfinals, and did not place. In his other matchups, he beat Jordan Arnold of Rocky and lost to Justin Theiault of Powell.
Ryan Peoples had a weekend to remember. The first-year 126-pounder won his first high school match, beating Hudson Jones of Wright in the first round of wrestlebacks. He did it in dramatic fashion, coming from behind in the final period before eventually pinning Jones with just two seconds left to go. The win was sandwiched between two losses, so from a placing standpoint, it was a dry run for Peoples. “But still really good for him to get a win,” Sanford said. “Hopefully he’ll realize he can do it. He just has to improve on running moves and technique.”
Ryan’s brother, Chase Peoples, got the start at 132. He went two and out, but showed promise in his first match by scoring the first takedown.
Burgos went in as the No. 2 seed — and that’s where he finished. He opened with a sub-minute pin and then added an 11-2 win over Wind River’s Dalton Perkins, a wrestler he had lost to earlier in the season.
In the final, Burgos faced Tom Reynolds of Moorcroft. While he came up on the short end of a 2-1 decision, Burgos “had a good tournament,” Sanford said, noting that Reynolds scored one of his points on a stalling call that went against Burgos and that Burgos nearly scored a takedown in the final seconds that would have given him the win.
The Buffs didn’t get the outing they needed from their freshman, Cole Hill, at 145. He won his first match and was up 10-0 on Anthony Estes of Rocky Mountain when Estes reversed him and put him on his back for a pin. Hill never recovered, losing his next match to Alex Fergus of Wright, 5-1.
Anthony Eibert went 1-2 and did not place at 152, but Sanford credited him for the way he kept battling in his opener against Daniel Managa of Wright, taking the match into the third period. Eibert’s weekend did include a pin of Cody’s Carl Pate.
Zeller breezed into the final with a second-period pin of Jared Wantulok of Powell and a 13-3 win over Kodiak French of Wright. In the championship, he faced Lovell’s Nathan Grant for the fourth time. This time, it was Grant who came out on top, winning 5-3 to even the season ledger at two wins apiece. Sanford said a second-period takedown keyed Grant’s win, as it left Zeller in a position of having to come from behind.
Tom Bernstein went 2-2 but did not place at 170. He got pinned in his first match by Dakota Ray of Moorcroft, but battled his way back, pinning Matt Cormaney of Wright in 1:58 and then decisioning Tanyon Gray of Moorcroft 5-4 before getting stuck by Alex Minge of Shoshoni, who went on to place third.
Jarrod Johnson also wrestled at 170, but went 0-2 and did not place.
Three Buffs were entered at 182. While Luke Young and Herme Mendez each went two and out, Matt Brown made it all the way to the placing round, finishing fourth. Brown had a good day. Brown faced Bradley Hess of Wright for the second time in as many days — and while he didn’t win, he closed the gap. After beating Mendez to stay alive, Brown topped Clayton Svalina of Moorcroft 5-2 in what was “his best match of the tournament.” Brown nearly rode that win to a third-place finish, but came up short 8-6 despite erasing a 5-1 deficit, against Hess.
Redland took the mat for the first time in the semis, where he beat the tough Tel West of Moorcroft 5-2 to earn yet another matchup with Sterling Baker of Dubois. In the final, Baker again got the better of Redland, 15-2.
Zane Edeler went 1-2 at 220, but with just five wrestlers in the weight class, that was good enough for a fourth-place finish. Edeler did win his one match by fall, pinning Marc Stroud of Cody. But he also lost to the eventual champion in Cody Flynn of Dubois.
Tanner Bernstein rounded out the scoring for G-R, placing fourth in the heavyweight division. Bernstein is a light heavyweight, but Sanford thought his style would be effective against the big guys — and he was right. Bernstein opened with a pin, but may have been more impressive in his next match, a gritty 4-0 loss to the top-ranked heavyweight in the state, Tanner Allison of Moorcroft. “We really wrestled him tough,” said Sanford. Bernstein followed that up with a pin over Wes Homewood of Rocky Mountain before bowing out to Rowdy Gard of Powell, 13-10, in the third-place match. “Very proud of Tanner,” said Sanford. “He did things this weekend that I knew he was capable of doing. Hopefully now he realizes it too.”
The Buffs will travel to Riverton this week for the Ron Thon Invitational.