Wrestlers face tough tests

by nathan oster

If there’s a silver lining to be found in week that featured a dual against Powell and a trip to the Ron Thon Invitational, it might be that the worst of the schedule is now behind the Greybull-Riverside matmen.

With only a dual against Cody remaining Friday at 4 p.m., G-R is already thinking about getting ready, and healthy, for the postseason, which begins at the Class 2A West Regional Saturday, Feb. 20 in Cowley.

Coach Mark Sanford said his team came through the busy and difficult stretch in pretty good shape. Powell is the 3A gold standard, a perennial power that is always in the mix for the state title, while the Ron Thon considered by many the most difficult tournament in the state.

G-R lost to the Panthers, 60-10, Feb. 2 in Basin, getting only a forfeit win by Marshall Gibbs and a 13-0 triumph by Jorge Carmona.

Every other match went in Powell’s column, including a showdown at 152 pounds between Nic Urbach and Cole Hill.   Urbach entered as the No. 1 ranked 3A wrestler at that weight, Hill as the No. 2 ranked 2A wrestler.

Sanford described it as a tight match, one that Hill led 2-1 going into the third. Urbach tied it at 2 apiece when Hill was whistled for fleeing the mat, then won it when he got Hill in a cradle and ripped him to his back for a pin with less than 30 seconds to go.

Sanford called it a great match, and added that several other G-R wrestlers turned in nice performances as well, albeit in losing efforts. Among them were 138-pounder Alex Schlattmann, who went the distance with Chance Karst (No. 1 in 3A); Ryan Peoples, who lost a 5-2 decision to Marshall Wittick; and Gibbs, who won an exhibition matchup against Dalton McMillan, who had beaten him at the Greybull Memorial Invitational.

“As a whole, I thought we battled them pretty well,” said Sanford. “We didn’t say, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Powell, we give up.’ That’s what you have to do. They are relentless. They keep coming, no matter what. It’s an idea that we need to understand and apply ourselves.

The Ron Thon in Riverton is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to wrestling.

Forty teams hailing from all three divisions scored points.

Green River, the No. 1 ranked team in 3A, won it with 181 points, followed by Powell with 154 and Gillette with 152. Moorcroft, with 61 points, was the top 2A finisher, followed by Cokeville in 17th with 52 points, Lyman in 23rd with 44 points and Saratoga in 26th with 40.5 points.

G-R, which was missing Luis Burgos, Tre’ Nelson and Lane Nielsen, came in 30th with 29 points. Six G-R wrestlers competed in the varsity, and of the six, only three — Alex Schlattmann at 138, Cole Hill at 152, and Jose Carmona at 160 — contributed points.

Jorge Carmona went 0-2 at 120 pounds, losing to Brodie Douglas of Lyman and Cole Seymour of Rock Springs. Sanford said Carmona was in his match with Seymour when it ended on a pin.

Marshall Gibbs also went 0-2, losing to Trey Fischbach of Moorcroft by a 10-4 decision and then going down to Nennon Parks of Newcastle/Upton by a 6-5 decision. Even though he didn’t win either match, Sanford said he saw improvement out of the Greybull senior.

Schlattmann posted a win, pinning Casey Britton of Torrington, but lost his other two matchups, succumbing to Dylan Sandstedt of Douglas 9-1 and Ricky Larson of Newcastle/Upton 4-0. Schlattmann has been an emerging force and Sanford likes what he has seen in recent weeks, but emphasized, “We have to be tougher on our feet” moving forward.

Hill was G-R’s only placer, taking second at 152. His path to the final included four straight decisions — the first two of the majority variety, the last two over some top-notched competition in the form of Seth Green of Cheyenne (8-4) and Logan Wagoner of Gillette (4-3). Sanford said the win over Wagoner was “a really good one for us” because Hill scored the winning takedown with just 12 seconds remaining in the match.

In the final, Hill faced Thatcher Spiering of Saratoga, the No. 1 ranked 152-pounder in 2A. Spierling had a tough path of his own to get there, one that included a 4-3 win over Nic Urbach in the semis. When the two squared off in the final, it was the third time this season, with each owning a single win. Spiering took it, winning 3-1 in overtime. Sanford said it was a great effort by Hill and that if the two meet again, Hill must establish a lead early and not fall behind the Saratoga standout.

Jose Carmona won his first match, beating Brayden Gaston of Jackson Hole in a “wild” 19-13 decision, but dropped his next two, losing to Hayden Hastings of Sheridan by fall and Cody Clark of Cheyenne South by 5-1 decision.

Anthony Eibert didn’t place at 170, losing to Zac Rose of Dubois in the opening round and to Andrew Nicholson of Cheyenne Central in the wrestlebacks.

Sanford said his hope was that more than one varsity wrestler would place. “I thought we’d go deeper in the brackets, too,” he said. “But we had some tough draws, too.”

G-R entered the rest of its wrestlers in the JV division, and while none placed, several came away with wins. Ryan Peoples went 2-2 at 138 pounds. Dawson McEwan went 3-2 at 160 pounds. Taven Pharris also went 3-2 at 170 pounds.

This week, there’s just one meet — a dual Friday at 4 p.m. in Cody. Sanford admits that he doesn’t know what his lineup is going to look like. “We want to wrestle and we want to compete, but at the same time, we don’t want guys wrestling hurt or running the risk of getting even more banged up.”