A lackluster Saturday hurt the Panthers as they finished second to Star Valley by 76.5 points, 280.5-204, at the Class 3A West Regionals in Pinedale over the weekend.
“We just lost some matches that we shouldn’t have, and I felt that we were a little flat on Saturday,” PHS head coach Nate Urbach said. “And you can’t be flat at the end of the year. You have to be excited.”
Powell gets a second chance — the only one that really matters — for excitement on Friday and Saturday at the Class 3A State Wrestling Tournament in Casper.
“Everybody gets excited at state. We need to get revved up as well. I think we just kind of went through the motions a little bit Saturday, and that’s just not acceptable. At the end of the year we need to get after them.”
The Panthers still won four individual region championships, and placed four more in the top three, at Pinedale.
Seniors Chance Karst (138 pounds), Kye Catlin (145), Nic Urbach (152) and Tucker Darrah (160) all won their respective brackets.
Juniors Ty Dearcorn (182 pounds) and Zach Easum (195) were each the runner-up in their respective brackets while junior Eli Briggs (220) and freshman Reese Karst (126) finished third.
Star Valley won the war at regionals, but Powell earned victories in some pretty big battles.
Chance Karst, Catlin and Nic Urbach each bested a Brave in their respective title bouts. Chance Karst won a 6-5 decision over Star Valley’s Brandon Claye, Catlin beat the Braves’ Brigg Hoopes 3-1 and Nic Urbach pinned Star Valley’s Trevor LaRose in 1:28.
Darrah pinned Star Valley’s Matt Hunting at 3:25 of their quarterfinal bout, and Easum advanced to the finals with a 3-1 semifinal win over Star Valley’s Erickson Vicente.
Briggs won by fall at 0:58 of the third-place match against Star Valley’s Hunter Cranney.
Reese Karst beat a pair of Braves on the way to third place. He first pinned Alec Erickson at 1:20 of the quarterfinals and then pinned Jaden Clark 10 seconds into the third-place match.
Dearcorn was second only to Star Valley’s Jason Walker, who won 9-4 in the title bout.
Star Valley is so deep this season, however, that Powell couldn’t rely on head-to-head match-ups alone.
“I knew it would be an uphill battle, especially in a small tournament,” Urbach said. “They wrestled well and we wrestled very average for us.”
The Panthers have their group of usual suspects who are expected to finish at, or near, the top, but it will take a total team effort to keep pace with the Braves, who are built to win from top to bottom.
“Everybody needs to step up, and we haven’t won a match yet. That’s how I look at it,” Nate Urbach said. “We’ve scored zero points. We need to take it one match at a time and everybody needs to do what they can to set us up for success.”
Tuesday afternoon’s practice finished on a note of toughness. The Panthers, halved into two groups, took turns running lines in the wrestling room at the school. At first, just one down-and-back, to represent the first minute of a bout’s opening round. As the fictional bout wore on, and the Panthers needed to come back from a 4-1 third-period deficit, the amount of down-and-backs increased. By the end of it, when coach Urbach’s hypothetical match reached it’s conclusion in overtime, the Panthers were gasping for air as they finished their eighth down-and-back.
“You need to look inward,” Nate Urbach said. “Win or lose … you want to look back and say I gave everything I could.”
The coach planned to ease off the throttle following Tuesday’s physical challenge, but the ensuing tasks wouldn’t be any less intense or important.
“I try to rest them as much as I can, and we do a lot of visualization,” Nate Urbach said. “To make sure they visualize tough situations, things that don’t work right. You gave up a takedown when you normally don’t, you’re down in the third period.
“When you daydream you do it from the comfort of your own home, and everything’s perfect. But that’s not reality. Reality is you might be hurt. I always have them visualize imperfect scenarios. That way, anything that happens is a happy surprise.”
Coach Urbach believes that by focusing on themselves, rather than worrying about the weekend’s opposition, the Panthers will be in a position to go after another title.
So long as they go after it, and don’t wait for it to come to them.
“We’ve got the ammunition, we just need to pull the trigger,” Nate Urbach said. “We’ve got kids that just didn’t take enough risks. You can’t be conservative. That’s the easiest way to let someone who doesn’t belong in a match beat you.”