WYOMING – A busy week for the Big Piney High School boys’ and girls’ wrestling teams kicked off with a significant 51-21 victory against Lyman at the first home duel of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 17.
Three days later, the Punchers boarded the bus to battle at the Lander Valley Invitational on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20-21. The meet consisted of bracket-style competition for both the girls’ and boys’ divisions.
The Lady Punchers placed 12th out of 24 teams at Lander, posting 21 points. The boys’ team came in 16th place in a pool of 25 teams with 39 points.
Lander also featured a Second Chance Meet for grapplers that did not make it to the finals on Saturday.
Lander provided an opportunity for the team to regroup and focus on areas for growth as Big Piney prepares for the postseason, said Head Coach Cole Clifford.
“After two very successful weeks of wrestling, we really needed to push ourselves at Lander and see where we are,” he added. “The Lander Invitational had several top-ranked teams in 3A and 2A. We found out that we can compete with those teams, but there are still things that we need to work on. This was a great start for two more weeks of wrestling and some strong competition.”
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams were “able to rise up to the challenges (they) faced” at Lander, Clifford continued.
“We earned several key head-to-head wins in both varsity and junior varsity against conference opponents,” he said. “That will help us going forward. I felt we improved on our bottom wrestling versus last week. I like how much that improved in a short amount of time.”
Senior Braunsn Smith scored the first win for Big Piney in the 160-pound bracket. He pinned Daniel Watson 1 minute, 9 seconds into the first period.
In the 170-pound division, senior Brandon Jones defeated Levi Trees by fall in the first period. Senior Thomas Howard (195 pounds) pinned Max Gregory 44 seconds into the second period.
Freshman Canyon Schell defeated Cash Platts by fall with 1:30 remaining in the first period of the 120-pound match. Junior Jackie Meador (126 pounds) beat Kasen Hill by an 11-3 major decision.
Sophomore Caden Clifford scored a 15-6 major decision against Timber VanGiesen in the 145-pound division.
Junior Zack Murpy (220 pounds), sophomore Travis Reed (285 pounds) and sophomore Dominic Sanchez (113 pounds) each won by open forfeit.
Lander girls’ tournament
Sophomore Charleigh Smith earned second place in the 155-pound weight classification. Smith pinned Pinedale’s Morgan Grossman in the opening round and defeated Joslyn Hockenberger of Cheyenne South by fall 35 seconds into the semifinals.
Senior Esther Van Grol bagged silver in the 170-pound division. She took down ReggiLee Conley-Hellman of Rawlins in the first period of the semifinals.
Senior Brynne Hoffman contributed 3 points to the girls’ score, pinning Naomi Johnson of Dubois in the second consolation round of the 1301-135-pound bracket.
Lander boys’ tournament
Jones battled through the 160-pound bracket to place fifth. He beat Tyler Waters of Green River in the fifth-place match.
Sanchez snagged sixth place in the 113-pound division after pinning Adrian Trujillo of Rawlins in the quarterfinals.
Lander Second Chance results
Schell captured first place in the 120-pound “B” division. He pinned Beckett Cassel of Burns-Pine Bluffs 34 seconds into the final round.
Freshman Nate Brown secured second place in the 120-pound “A” classification, defeating Kemmerer’s Bryce Brown by fall in the first period of the semifinals.
Senior D.J. Varela snagged third place in the 182-pound bracket. Freshman Joziah Sevenski earned third place in the 113-pound division.
Clifford, Reed and freshmen Saki Meador and Zef Zuniga came in fourth place in their respective brackets. Braunsn Smith, senior James McCormick and freshman Kian Pelham all posted fifth-place finishes.
Junior David Farrington and freshman Robert French both took sixth place in their weight classifications.
The Puncher wrestlers travel to Pinedale for a duel against their cross-county rival on Tuesday, Jan. 24, at 5 p.m. On Friday and Saturday, Jan. 27-28, the team competes in what Coach Clifford called the “ultimate tournament in the state” – the Ron Thon Invitational in Riverton with over 1,000 athletes competing from across Wyoming.
“We look forward to that challenge and the possibility to develop,” Clifford said.