Big Piney grapplers crush the competition

Chrissy Sanchez photo Senior Thomas Howard begins a match at the Don Runner Memorial Tournament in Wind River. Howard won the championship in his weight class.

PAVILLION – Demonstrating they are a force to be reckoned with this season, the Big Piney Puncher girls’ and boys’ wrestling teams destroyed the competition at the 2023 Don Runner Memorial Tournament hosted by Wind River High School on Jan. 13-14.

The Punchers seized first place by a wide margin, tallying 211 points. The host school came in a distant second at 169 points. Big Piney beat 11 other teams, most of them conference rivals the team will square off against in the postseason.

The Don Runner Memorial opened with pool action in a duel format. The bracket-style tournament began on Friday evening.

The Punchers “got off to a great start” in pool wrestling on Friday, said Head Coach Cole Clifford, and Big Piney outmaneuvered their opponents in “every statistical category.”

“I really liked how much better we were this week in engaging our opponents on our feet,” Clifford said. “We got into our hands fighting early and were physical in fighting for ties to get into our offense. This was the first week that we had more first points scored and more takedowns than our opponents.”

The Punchers opened the bracket-style tournament with a “solid start,” Clifford remarked.

“We were able to get six wrestlers in the finals,” he said. “It was a great week and a great time to see a couple of teams we have not seen yet this year.”

On Thursday, Jan. 12, the Big Piney girls’ wrestling team competed at the Evanston Invitational. Full results were not available at press time. The five athletes representing Big Piney – seniors Enna Coote, Esther Van Grol and Brynne Hoffman, sophomore Charleigh Smith and freshman Catie Langlois – each performed well at the tournament, said Clifford.

“It was fun to watch all the young ladies compete and work hard that day,” he added. “Our five really bonded and were so supportive of each other. I love to see the improvement they have made and they have come so far in such a short amount of time.”

Don Runner girls’ tournament

Smith snagged the championship in the 170-pound division. She defeated Shoshoni’s Abrianne Kiser by fall at 1 minute, 35 seconds in the quarterfinals. Advancing to the semifinals, Smith took down Lovell’s Maecie Joy with 1:38 remaining in the first period.

Smith dueled teammate and Van Grol in the finals. The match came down to the wire and the contestants fought through three intense periods. Smith scored the win by a 12-10 decision.

Van Grol earned silver in the bracket. She pinned Avery Layne of Lovell to proceed to the semifinals where Van Grol defeated Abrianna Kiser of Shoshoni in the first period.

Hoffman, Coote and Langlois placed third in their respective weight divisions.

Don Runner boys’ tournament

Senior Thomas Howard captured the championship in the 195-pound bracket. He pinned Parker Devries of Riverton in the third period of the quarterfinal bout. Moving up to the semifinals, Howard defeated Erik Rosales of Greybull-Riverside by fall in 22 seconds.

In the first-place match, Howard took down Saratoga’s Quade Jordan with 21 seconds left in the third period.

Sophomore Caden Clifford snagged gold in the 145-pound division. In the quarterfinals, Clifford pinned Jared Nelsen of Hanna-Elk Mountain 11 seconds into the second period.

Proceeding to the semifinals, Clifford beat Caiden Sorenson of Greybull-Riverside by a 9-3 decision.

Clifford battled Riverton’s Talon Thoman through three periods in the first-place match to win by a 12-4 major decision.

Sophomore Dominic Sanchez won the championship in the 113-pound bracket. The quarterfinals pitted Sanchez against Lovell’s Zayden Stahl. Sanchez pinned Stahl at 3:59.

Sanchez defeated Shoshoni’s Ethan Tarango by a 12-0 major decision in the semifinals.

Sanchez squared off against teammate and junior Jackie Meador in the first-place match. The bout came down to the wire, with Sanchez pulling ahead by a 4-3 decision following three neck-and-neck periods.

Meador took second place in the 113-pound bracket. He pinned Kolton Martinez of Wind River in the quarterfinals. Facing off against Saratoga’s Josiah Stockwell in the semifinals, Meador won by a 4-0 decision.

Senior Brandon Jones bagged silver in the 160-pound bracket. Making quick work of his opponent Juan Herrera of Lander in the quarterfinals, Jones won by fall 25 seconds into the match. Jones went on to beat Wind River’s Isaac Gardner by a 13-0 major decision in the semifinals.

Sophomore Caleb Brown picked up second place in the 106-pound division. Brown beat Lovell’s Tyler Wilkerson by fall 30 seconds into the quarterfinals. He took down Sammie Cyrus of Dubois in the first period of the semifinals.

Junior David Farrington and freshman Canyon Schell earned bronze in the 152-pound and 120-pound brackets, respectively.

Junior Zack Murphy placed fourth in the 220-pound bracket and freshman Nate Brown came in fourth place in the 120-pound division.

The Big Piney wrestling teams host the Puncher Duels on Tuesday, Jan. 21. Weigh-ins are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.