2021 was a memorable year in Puncher sports


BIG PINEY – High school sports are never dull, and 2021 was no exception. The year flew by quickly, filled with amazing highs and heartbreaking lows.

Regardless of the final tally on the scoreboard, the Big Piney Punchers showed up week after week with grit, integrity, class and a few surprises up their sleeves.

Each calendar year is packed to capacity with sports happenings, and keeping track of it all can sometimes be a challenge. Printed below is a recap of memorable Puncher moments from the 2021 season.

Winter 2020-21

The boys’ swim team dove into the New Year and won the Big Piney Triangular on Jan. 7 and the Cody Invitational on Jan. 8. Big Piney sophomore Hampton Jones came in first in diving at Big Piney. Junior J.T. Day took first place in diving at the Kemmerer Duel on Jan. 16.

Day came in under time in the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke at the Pinedale Invite, qualifying for State in all eight individual events and earning the Adam Denton Award.

Conference play began in earnest for Puncher basketball on Jan. 22. The Puncher girls trounced Wind River, 58-30, while the boys wrapped the night up with a 77-54 victory.

Big Piney cheerleaders placed fourth in the 2A Game Day division and sixth in the All-Girl Cheer category at the State Spirit

Competition in Casper on Jan. 28. Puncher wrestlers ramped up the intensity at the Pinedale Invitational and defeated 4A opponent Jackson, 42-24, on Jan. 30.

The Puncher girls came within a possession of toppling basketball powerhouses Lyman and Mountain View on Feb. 2 and 5.

Senior Kaden Raza received notification he was selected to the prestigious Shrine Bowl roster in early February.

The boys’ basketball team remained undefeated in conference play following an epic 58-56 win against Wind River in double-overtime before the home crowd on Feb. 12.

The Puncher girls crushed Wind River the same night, 46-18, scoring their second conference win.

Big Piney hosted the 2A Southwest Conference Wrestling Tournament on Feb. 18, qualifying 11 wrestlers for State.

Sophomore Thomas Howard won the Regional Championship in his weight division. Junior Robert Hunt and freshman Jackie Meador earned silvers while senior Braxton Smith, sophomore Brandon Jones and junior Jaron Petty each took bronzes.

Sublette swimmers traveled to the State Meet in Gillette on Feb. 19-20. Day, Hampton Jones, senior Conner King and sophomore Owen Nielson represented BPHS.

Making history at the 2A Regional Basketball Tournament in Big Piney, the Puncher girls secured a ticket to State for the first time in nearly two decades after overwhelming Wind River, 55-19, in the opening round on Feb. 25.

The boys’ basketball team took silver at Regionals, beating St. Stephens, 64-33, in the all-or-nothing State-qualifying game.

Wrestlers made a mark at the State Tournament in Casper on Feb. 25. How- ard earned silver and 2A All-State honors. Smith made the podium in fourth place and Brandon Jones took fifth.

At the 2021 State Basketball Tourna- ment in Casper, the girls fell to Lusk in the quarterfinals, dropping to the consolation semifinals to play Moorcroft.

Big Piney fought Moorcroft to a 47-47 tie in regulation. The stalemate continued through the first overtime period and into the second. Junior Hanna Hansen scored four of four free throws, followed by a layup from junior Ceci Sambrano to clinch a 63-59 victory.

The boys fought Big Horn neck-and-neck in the quarterfinals at State, pulling out a 37-34 win. Advancing to the semifinals, the Punchers squared off against Sundance. The match tied up with seconds remaining on the clock. Senior Edwin Gonzalez sunk a 3-pointer and the Punchers handed Sundance its second loss of the season, 64-61.

Gonzalez and seniors Cassidy Espenscheid, Raza and Carlos Munoz received 2A All-State and 2A West All-Conference basketball honors. Gonzalez was named 2A West Conference Player of the Year.

Hansen, senior Jakobi Hibbert, senior Ryker Goodman and junior Ethan Whiterock made the All-Conference basketball list.

Spring

Poor weather conditions delayed the start of the 2021 track and field season. The snow eventually stopped flying and athletes laced up their running and jumping shoes.

The Punchers took fourth at the season opener in Green River on March 24. Senior Muriel Jones won the 3200-meter run and Hansen scored a win in girls’ discus.

Jones, senior Torry Taylor, sophomore Shelby Guest and freshman Morgan Brown took first in the 1600-meter sprint medley relay.

On March 31, Big Piney competed at Mountain View. Muriel Jones won both the 3200-meter run and 400-meter dash. Jones, sophomore Renee Buttema, Guest and Brown took first in the 1600-sprint medley relay.

The boys’ 4x800 relay team – Day, junior Brayden Hymas, Howard and Hampton Jones – took first.

Punchers found success at the Kemmerer Invite on April 24. Senior Nathan Maxfield won boys’ shot put and Howard placed first in boys’ discus. Freshman Karsyn Gurr took first place in the 400-meter dash. Sophomore Hunter Fisher beat the competition in the boys’ 300-meter hurdles and Jakobi Hibbert took first in the girls’ pole vault.

Big Piney hosted the Puncher Invite on May 3. Guest won the girls’ 300-meter hurdles and helped Taylor, Hibbert and Muriel Jones sweep the 1600 sprint medley relay.

Jones came in first in the 3200-meter and Fisher swept the competition in the long jump, 110-meter hurdles and 300- meter hurdles.

Gurr took first in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Gurr, junior Thomas Barron, senior Luis Zuniga and Petty sailed into first place in the boys’ 4x100-meter relay.

The Punchers ended the spring season with a bang at the State Track and Field Meet in Casper on May 20-22.

Demonstrating endurance, speed and stamina, Muriel Jones broke four school records at State in the 3200-, 1600-, 800- and 400-meter runs. She took gold in the 3200- and 1600-meters and silver in the 400-meter dash and 800-meter run.

Petty, Gurr, Fisher and Munoz broke the school record in the 1600 sprint medley relay by four-hundredths of a second.

Fisher snapped up silver in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and Munoz took second place in the 800-meter run.

Jones, Munoz and Fisher each earned All-State track and field honors.

Fall

The Lady Puncher volleyball team scored its first conference win, 3-0, against St. Stephens on Sept. 3, setting the tone with an 18-point lead in the first set.

The Puncher football team took down the Evanston Red Devils, 26-6, in the season opener on Sept. 2.

The volleyball team won its second conference game against Wyoming Indian High School, 3-1, on Sept. 11.

Junior Blade Hibbert qualified for the State Golf Meet at the 3A West Conference Championships hosted by Pinedale.

Fellow junior and swimmer Rayne Wheeler punched her ticket to State in the 200 individual medley at the Lyman Invite.

The Punchers dominated Homecoming Week. On the gridiron, Big Piney overwhelmed Pinedale, 28-0, keeping the county trophy in Puncher territory for a fifth year.

The Lady Punchers won an epic five-set heater against Wind River. In swimming, Wheeler helped the 200 freestyle relay team to gold.

Big Piney football faced off against Mountain View on Oct. 8. When the final buzzer sounded, the Punchers led, 27-7, their first victory against the Buffaloes since 2009.

After trailing Cokeville in the first half, the Puncher football team recovered in an explosive second half, pulling off a series of gutsy plays for a 28-21 win.

The girls’ swim team won the Big Piney Meet on Oct. 14. Wheeler took silver in the 200 individual medley.

The Lady Punchers finished the regular season with an undefeated conference record following a clean sweep against Wyoming Indian on Oct. 15.

Wheeler made the podium at the 3A West Conference Swim Meet in Pinedale on Oct. 22-23, placing fifth in the 200 individual medley.

The Puncher football team took down Thermopolis, 27-6, on Oct. 19. Days later, the Punchers hit the gridiron again to beat Kemmerer, 37-20.

The Lady Punchers made a strong showing at the Regional Tournament in Lander. Big Piney won the quarterfinals against Shoshoni, 3-1, before falling to Rocky Mountain in a neck-and-neck, five-set battle that went past 10 p.m. Dropping to the consolation semifinals, Big Piney scored a 3-2 victory against Wyoming Indian, earning a spot at the State Tournament.
The team went on to beat Shoshoni in a 3-0 sweep to take bronze at the tournament. At the State Swim Meet in Gillette, senior Adriaunna Myers earned silver in the
50 freestyle.

Wrapping up a successful volleyball season, senior Jocie Banks made the 2A All-State roster, along with 2A West All- Conference honors and 2A West Player of the Year.

Four Lady Punchers made the All-Conference list – Banks, Hansen, senior Sierra Keiter and junior Hannah Runyan. Football postseason awards were announced after Thanksgiving. Seniors Dalton Bell, Jaspur Brower and Koy Walton received All-State and All-Conference honors. Barron, Hymas, Petty and Seth Stoutenburg earned All-Conference awards.

Now a new season of winter sports is underway, with competition picking back up the second weekend of January.

Here’s to a successful and exciting 2022!

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