Wrestlers make due with small lineup in Lander

WYOMING – Hitting the open road, the Big Piney wrestling team logged in a busy weekend of competition.

On Thursday, Jan. 20, Big Piney traveled to Kemmerer for duels against the host school and Mountain View.

In a close match, Big Piney fell to Kemmerer, 28-18. Results from the Mountain View duel were not posted at press time.

“I really liked the format at Kemmerer where each wrestler got one match against some very strong competition,” said head coach Cole Clifford. “Both of these programs have long histories of being tough programs to compete against, and I felt we did very well.”

Clifford highlighted several matches that came down to the wire.

“Wylie Mackey won a tough match in overtime,” he added. “Wiley Smith had a great win against a very strong opponent. Zack Murphy also came also came up huge with a win against a returning State placer. It was a great way to start off the weekend.”

Additional winners against Kemmerer included Dominic Sanchez. He beat Austin Christen by a 9-4 decision. Caleb Brown pinned Bryce Brown 5 minutes, 5 seconds into the match.

Jackie Meador defeated Austin Ruvalcaba by a 9-1 major decision. Jaron Petty won by fall against Come Gruffat midway through the first period.

Back on the bus early Friday morning, the Punchers headed to the two-day Lander Invite. The meet featured bracket-style competition.

Despite numerous wrestlers out due to illness, coach Clifford was pleased with wrestlers able to make the meet.

“I was happy with how we competed in all of our matches,” he said. “We took on the challenge and I saw some great wrestling. I was happy with the improvements we have been working on in the practice room.”

Sanchez was the only varsity wrestler to place, finishing sixth in the 106-pound weight division.

“Dominic’s last match for fifth and sixth place was an amazing battle that came down to the last seconds,” said Clifford. “We had to get the last takedown and we just missed it. I was impressed by how hard he competed this weekend, and how well he wrestled against some of the best in the state.”

Junior-varsity athletes made strong showings at Lander. Brown won the championship in the 113-pound weight class, pinning Tai McBride of Jackson Hole 8 seconds into the second period.

“Caleb continues to grow and get better each week,” said Clifford.

Mackey placed third in the 106-pound bracket and “had a solid meet,” added Clifford.

Caden Clifford and Wiley Smith advanced through the 145-pound bracket to face each other in the third-place match.

“Caden and Wiley were not able to wrestle their last match against each other because they wrestled the maximum number of matches before they were able to compete against each other,” explained coach Clifford. “So they shared third place.”

Clifford added he was “impressed with the improvement” he saw from Clayton Mullikin in the junior-varsity division.

“I love his attitude and how hard he works in the room each day,” Clifford added. “And you can see that improvement on the mat.”

Braunsn Smith also had a “solid tournament” in the 145-pound junior-varsity division, said Clifford.

Big Piney squares of against Pinedale in a duel on Tuesday, Jan. 25, with weigh-ins scheduled for 5 p.m.

The team then travels to Riverton for the Ron Thon Invitational on Jan. 28-29.

“The Ron Thon is an all-classification meet and is the largest meet held in the state – by far much harder than State,” said Clifford.