Wrestlers square off with some of Montana’s best

by nathan oster

Greybull-Riverside wrestlers held their own last weekend against some of the top wrestlers from Montana, scoring 73 points over the course of the two-day Forsyth Invitational.

Glendive won the tournament with 255 points, followed by host Forsyth with 238 and Choteau with 235.  Cody, with 137, and Sheridan, 89, were the only Wyoming teams that finished ahead of the Buffs.

“It wasn’t quite as big as it was last year … and not as tough either because Belgrade wasn’t there this year,” said Coach Mark Sanford, who saw three of his wrestlers place.

The setup for the tournament did not include any pool wrestling, nor were there separate divisions for varsity and junior varsity competitors.

Instead, it was simply a bracketed tournament — and one that followed the rules of wrestling in Montana, where weight class limits are slightly different.

The Buffs entered 10 wrestlers, and but two of them won matches.

At 112, Luis Burgos went 3-2, finishing fourth.  After an opening-round bye, he dropped his opener. But then he reeled off three straight wins to earn a spot in the fourth-place match, which he lost.

“Luis did a good job, especially considering it was his first time on the mat in high school,” said Sanford. “He’s got some learning to do, but he’s a scrapper and a pretty athletic kid.”

Marshall Gibbs is also coming on strong at 119, as he went 3-2 and bowed out one round out of placing. Sanford said Gibbs is “working well with the tools he’s got,” and that the challenge will be to “keep improving on feel, and on knowing when something is good to use and when it isn’t and he should be going to something else.

“He has a toughness, though, that coaches love to see.”

Jesus Burgos, who has been battling an elbow injury, gave it a go at 145. He won his first match and was up 4-1 when he appeared to aggravate the injury. That was all Sanford needed to see. Burgos wanted to continue, but Sanford scratched him from the rest of the tournament, saying, “We need to get that elbow healed up.”

Anthony Eibert went 2-2 but did not place at 152.  Sanford said Eibert just needs to “do some cleaning up of his moves,” noting that the things he was able to do in middle school won’t work at the high school level.

Cole Hill also competed at 152, and like Eibert, he went 2-2 for the weekend.  Hill was “one round short of placing,” said Sanford, noting that he “should have won his last match.”

Luke Zeller turned in the team’s top finish with a second at 160. His was a 16-team bracket.  Zeller won his first two matches by pin before running into a tough customer, Cole Bilbrey of Glendive, in the final.  “It wasn’t our best match,” said Sanford of the 8-3 defeat, in which Zeller had an early takedown waved off because he didn’t hold it long enough.

The Buffs entered three wrestlers, Matt Brown, Zane Edeler and Spencer Redland, in the 189-pound class. Matt Brown went two-and-out, but both Edeler and Redland picked up wins for the team.

Edeler went 2-2 and finished one win short of the placing round.  While disappointed that Edeler did not place, Sanford said he liked how the Greybull junior performed. “He opened things up and wasn’t as conservative,” said Sanford. “Last week he was kind of tentative.  Now we just need to find a middle ground, knowing when to be explosive, when to be in control.”

Redland went 3-2 for the Buffs, winning each of his first two matches to earn a spot in the semifinals.  In that match, he lost 6-1.  That was followed by another loss, coming by a pin which came with the score tied at 0.

Oscar Gomez went 0-2 at heavyweight.  Effort wasn’t a problem, as Sanford said the Greybull sophomore “came out hard in every match.”  The key for Gomez, Sanford said, will be sticking with it when he falls behind.  “He just needs to keep his mental toughness going from the start of the match to the end.”

So overall, it was a mixed bag for the Buffs.

“The effort was good, but I told the kids on the way home that my expectations for them are higher.  We had a couple who were one round out of place, and a copule who went 0-2.  That’s the kind of stuff we cannot have.  We have to push through some of that, to where we’re getting into that medal round.”

The Buffs will get to see some of the teams from the eastern half of the state this weekend at the Wright Dual Tournament.  Moorcroft, one of the teams to beat in 2A, will be there, as will Wright and Lusk.

The only downside, Sanford said, is that Lingle-Fort Laramie will not attend. “We won’t see them until the state tournament,” he said.