Each year I ask Spencer Condie, the closest thing to the Wyoming State Wrestling Historian that I know, to preview the big event.

Greetings Wyoming wrestling fans, it is that time of year again to bring you up to speed on what to look for at the Wyoming State Wrestling tournament, being held this weekend at the Casper Events Center.

John Gabrielsen asked if I wanted to submit another article this year and give you a historical perspective of things that I personally am looking for when all is said and done Saturday evening after the championships have taken place. If he didn’t want a historical perspective then he asked the wrong guy because I am a bit of a history buff when it comes to this event, so that’s the angle I am going to take, so I hope you enjoy it.

The end all be all of Wyoming high school wrestling is absolutely the possibility of become one of those individuals that are seeking to get individual title #4, and this year there are two gentlemen in the hunt for this prestigious club. Justin Lewton from Worland will be seeking his fourth championship in the 132 pound class in Class 3A. This would make him Wyoming’s 15th 4 time champion.  Lanny Schneider, who will be wearing the stripes down on the mats,  was the first from Worland, and 4th in the state to do so.

Bryce Meredith from Cheyenne Central is competing at 138 pounds in the 4A class, and will attempt to become #16 as he will compete at next highest weight class than Justin. As a side not, Bryce would also become the second 4 time champion for Cheyenne Central high school, that honor of being Cheyenne’s first belongs to one of Wyoming’s best all time in Mr. Ray Sanchez. These two have had a very good season thus far, and have left many opponents unable to figure out how to beat them. I am Looking forward to seeing what they bring come Friday morning as well as Saturday night.

Next tier down from that is another club, this time, of those seeking title #3. This year’s group includes a pair of teammates. From Cokeville, Senior Brock Teichert already has 2, and Junior James Teichert is also seeking his third title, for him in as many years. They could join a couple of other Panthers as Cokeville’s list of 3 time champions would include only those with the same last name, Brock’s brother Rodney was the first, and cousin Brigham joined that club last season. Across the state in the East of Cheyenne, Brody Cress, a senior will try to end his career as only the second Thunderbird in school history to accomplish the “3-peat” joining Casey Bartels. He will be competing at 132 pounds in his final weekend of wrestling as he is set to begin his collegiate Rodeo career next fall. He may only get to enjoy his time on the list for a short while before Tevis Bartlett plans to join him after the 220 pound finals are over. Tevis has established himself as one of the most dominant wrestlers in our state as he heads into competition with an unblemished record, all while seeing competitors from Nebraska, Utah, California, Nevada Colorado, (I’m sure I’m missing others) during this his junior season.

Of course what comes next is rather predictable, those who have tasted victory at the top of the stand once already and are hungry for at least one more, and there is quite a list of those this year as well. Let’s start in the 2A where something special could happen in just the second championship match of the final round. We need to back up 2 years ago to set this one up. Thermopolis and Moorcroft each had a freshman make it into the finals at 106 pounds in Vinchinzo Castle from Thermopolis and Dallas Taylor from Moorcroft. Mr. Castle came away with the title that year, and the two met up again at the same weight class in 2013 where Mr. Taylor was victorious over Mr. Castle. The pair seemed destined to make it to the finals again this year although each has finally grown a bit, and they could possibly meet in the finals of the 113 pound weight class, and each will be seeking their third straight finals appearance and each attempting to gain their second state title. Incidentally this would be only the second time in our 67 year history of state tournament wrestling that a pair of athletes were to meet in the finals for a third year. Spencer Jolley of Lovell, and Shawn Dowdy of Moorcroft met in the heavyweight finals in 1995, 1996, and again in 1997.

Other Juniors looking to add title number 2 to their resumes include: Ryan Bradshaw from Thermopolis, (either he or Castle would be the first Thermopolis Bobcat in team history to have earned multiple titles by the way) Jordan Fischer from Gillette, Kole Schell from Moorcroft, Hunter Haman from Douglas, Kyle Burton from Sheridan and Andrew Von Rein from Lander.

Three sophomores who are returning champions will be looking to make 2 titles in 2 years as returning champs, and they are: Kye Catlin from Powell, Taylor Jeffries of Gillette, and Glenrock’s Taylor Jackson. The other freshman champion from 2013 has just completed his season for his new team from back east where he (Trent Olson) was the national runner up. Congratulations to Trent and his family for that placing.

Now, those seniors that will look to end their careers with a second title in hopes of making something “Twice” as nice as the first one are:

Sterling Baker, Dubois. Tannar Galey, Kelly Walsh. Alex Lacasse Gillette. Jordan Pingrey, Douglas. Zach Thompson of Powell. Kodiak French from Wright. And Luke Lovett from Moorcroft.

There are 6 other seniors besides the ones already mentioned that have 1 2 or 3 championships. I keep track of those seniors that have been able to find a place on the podium every year of their high school career, and the remaining 6 who have yet to win a state championship to their 3 other state placings are:

Batista Covolo, Evanston, he has finished 4th, 3rd, and 2nd, in his previous 3 years of competition.

Wyatt Hageman, Lingle, his finishes have been 6th, 4th, and 2nd.

Zack Larson, Thermopolis. He has a 5th, 3rd, and 2nd already.

Lance Lucas, Wheatland. 6th, 4th, and 4th.

Kaden Mcelhinny, Worland. 5th, 5th, and 4th.

Wyatt Somsen, Southeast. 6th, 3rd, and 3rd.

Kris Miller, Gillette  6th, 4th, and 2nd.

I wouldn't bet against any of these guys to finish at the top of their weight classes. Lucas, and Mcelhinny are going to be competing in the same bracket. As well as Hageman and Larson. Don't be surprised to see all four of those wrestlers in the finals against each other, should make for an exciting finish as they are ranked 1, and 2 in that bracket.

Some other things that you may or may not find interesting to be looking for are these:

For the first time in 50 years, there will not be a place winner from the Upton Bobcats, they have had to combine their team with Newcastle to form a 3A team this year, and much like Hulett’s team had to combine with Moorcroft last year, (they have their own team again this year) their streak of placing at least one competitor in the top 6, from 1965 to 2013, will sadly come to a close. I don’t say that to pick on Upton, but it is rather sad to me that the streak has had to come to an end in the way that it did.

Should Natrona come away with at least one place winner it will keep the longest streak of all time active and counting at 59 years. Dating back to 1956, that is older than most of us that will be in attendance at the tournament I would think. Lusk is in the same situation if they are able to place one athlete, then their streak will be at 56 years, which is second best of all time.

Other streaks of note are:

Dating back to 1969, Green River has managed to have at least one of their athletes make it to the championship finals in every tournament from then til 2013, a streak of 45 years. Star Valley joined that club a couple years later and has done the same since 1972. Douglas is only behind them by one year. Greybull so far has the longest such streak among 1a/2a teams dating back to 1994, which is good for a 20 year streak.

When it comes to individual championships, Douglas now leads the state by having at least one individual champion for 18 years running going back to 1996, Cokeville leads the small class with 12 straight years since 2002, and Gillette leads the larger classes with 10 straight years having at least one champion.

Gillette also looks to extend their team streak of 11 years winning the team championship which means, if we take this year’s senior class, those seniors were in Kindergarten the last time Gillette did not win a team championship. Now that is simply amazing. Green River with 15 and Star Valley , 18, still have more team titles total, however another Gillette team title would bring their schools total equal to Green Rivers total of 15.

Should I stir the pot for a moment and risk upsetting my friends from Star Valley? Yeah, I think I will. It seems to be a tradition for those folks from the Valley of the Star, to print T-shirts to wear at the state tournament with the years of each of their titles printed in big bold letters, and without fail they include 1981 on those shirts every single year. I can’t say as I blame them, as they did have 5 champions out of the 12 total weight classes that year. But ask anyone from any other 3a town where the championship trophy from 1981 is, and I think most could tell you that the trophy from is sitting in the trophy case at Evanston High School. So, just as a little experiment, see if you can get a good look at the T-shirts that some of the Star Valley faithful will be wearing this weekend, and try to find the year 1981 listed among those titles. If you find it, ask one of them where that trophy is, and then ask them why they still continue to print it among their 18 other titles, just to see what they tell you. Were they the best team in 3A that year? It’s hard to argue against that. But did they bring home the trophy? No, they did not.

So there you have at least something to make this weekend perhaps a bit more interesting for you, maybe you are all hyped up to watch the tournament or watch your son or cousin, or brother anyway. Those are just some of the things I’ll be watching for as well as doing a little coaching from the corner as well. (Go Bulldogs!)

Hope you have a safe trip, and a very enjoyable time in Casper and if you have any further questions or just want to send me a text to let me know of something I may have missed, feel free to do so at 307-202-0142, I’d be glad to respond. And if you are from Star Valley, and would like to give me a hard time about 1981, I would enjoy a good natured shove into that pool as well.

 

See you there,

 

Spencer