Punchers grapple with loaded weekend duel slate

SHOSHONI – The Big Piney wrestling team grappled the competition in a series of duels hosted by Shoshoni.

On Friday, Jan. 7, the Punchers took on Shoshoni in a duel, scoring a 42-39 win.

Saturday featured the Robert Parrish Invitational – Shoshoni Wrangler Duels.

Following a loss to Wind River early Saturday, Big Piney rallied and beat a combined Wyoming Indian-Lovell team, defeated Greybull-Riverside and pummeled Dubois to place second in its pool.

The Punchers took out Saratoga in the final duel to take third place overall.

“This was a great week for us to see our regional opponents from the north,” said head coach Cole Clifford. “It is a great opportunity to compare where we sit and what we need to do to improve. It was a great week for us going 5-1 in the duels and earning third place at the tournament.”

Senior Thomas Howard swept the competition, winning all six duels in his weight class. Junior Braunsn Smith also went undefeated with a 4-0 record.

Freshmen Dominic Sanchez, Wyatt Mackey and Jackie Meador all finished out the weekend with 5-1 records.

Junior Brandon Jones, sophomore Zack Murphy and freshmen Caleb Brown and Caden Clifford each went 4-2.

Friday night’s duel against Shoshoni came down to the wire with Big Piney edging out the Wranglers, 42-39.

“We usually have good quality matches with Shoshoni and it was the same this year,” said coach Clifford. “It was a close duel, going back and forth. There were some great competitive matches. It came down to the last match where Zack Murphy came up big with a pin to give us the six points we needed to win. Another key match was Wiley fighting hard to prevent Shoshoni from earning bonus points – his efforts were important to the win.”

The action on Saturday opened with a duel against Wind River. Big Piney fell, 54-30.

“The team came out a little flat and we saw that in our warm-up,” said Clifford. “We are a young team and it is a process learning to come out the second day and compete at a high level.”

Big Piney defeated a combined team consisting of athletes from Wyoming Indian High School and Lovell by a wide margin, 63-18, in the second duel.

“I felt we came out great to start this match,” Clifford said. “Our performance improved as the day went on. We got a lot better in our hand fighting that led to more takedowns and early offense. We also got better at being more physical in our offense and that led to several pins.”

The Punchers went on to trounce Greybull-Riverton, 51-15.

“I was very impressed with how we wrestled Greybull,” Clifford said. “Brandon Jones started us off with a huge key victory against a very strong opponent. I love how Brandon does not allow his opponents a break – he just keeps going after them.”

Big Piney rounded the action out in its pool with a 48-30 victory over Dubois.

In the final duel, the Punchers squared off against Saratoga for third place. Big Piney pulled out the win, 48-36.

“I felt we really stepped it up in this duel. Saratoga is aggressive and I was happy we matched their intensity. Jackie Meador had a huge comeback from behind to win his match. That was a turning point in the duel.”

Clifford added the team was pleased to be back in action after nearly a month without a competition.

“I was impressed with our performance this week,” he said. “I like that all of our team was pushed this week and had challenging matches and the opportunity to learn from those matches. I felt we were really strong on our feet and in our offense.”