The Panthers won four individual titles even as their streak of four straight team titles was snapped. They scored 206.5 points and finished second to Star Valley (263.5) at the Class 3A Wrestling Championships in Casper over the weekend.
Seniors Chance Karst (138 pounds), Kye Catlin (145), Nic Urbach (152) — called “The Big Three” by PHS head coach Nate Urbach — and Tucker Darrah (160) dominated the middle portion of the final bouts with four straight Panther title victories.
“The big three, they’re the only teammates in history that were all four-time finalists,” Nate Ubach said. “That’s pretty darn good. I’ve been awful spoiled.”
Catlin completed a career sweep with his fourth straight state title. Karst claimed his third title, Nic Urbach won his second and Darrah capped his high school career with his first individual title.
The Panthers’ depth included a second-place finish by junior Zach Easum, who went 3-1 and was pinned by Jackson’s Dillon Hartranft in the 195-pound title bout.
Senior Teagan Cordes (170 pounds) and junior Ty Dearcorn (182) both finished fourth in their respective weight classes with 3-2 records. Freshman Reese Karst (126 pounds) went 4-2 to take fifth place and juniors Marshall Wittick (132) and Eli Briggs (220) each placed sixth with 3-3 records.
“Teagan, he was a very average wrestler last year, and he became a very good wrestler this year,” Nate Urbach said.
Powell was 8-6 in head-to-head bouts with the Braves, who took home their first wrestling title since 2007.
Chance Karst and Catlin each defeated a Star Valley opponent in the finals. Chance Karst won a 15-4 major decision over Brandon Claye to finish the tournament 4-0 and his senior season 45-1.
“He’s only lost two matches in two years. He’s definitely been the most dominant kid I’ve had,” Nate Urbach said.
Chance Karst will wrestle for Chadron State (Division II) in the fall.
Catlin beat Brigg Hoopes 9-3 to go 4-0 at state and overcome season-long injuries to win his third straight title at 145 pounds. He won at 138 pounds his freshman season.
Like Chance Karst, there are few equals in PHS history to Catlin.
“You have to put him and Auston Carter together, because they’re both fourth timers,” Nate Urbach said.
Carter won titles every year from 2007-2010.
Injuries to his knee and shoulder — he had four surgeries in 14 months — threatened to knock Catlin off in both his junior and senior years, but he was able to finish both abbreviated seasons atop the podium.
“He’s a tough-minded kid and thank God he came back and finished where he deserved to finish,” Nate Urbach said.
Making dad proud
Nic Urbach pinned Wheatland’s Tel Parmely to bounce back from last season’s loss to Claye in the 138-pound finals and add a 152-pound championship to the one he earned at 126 pounds as a sophomore. Nic Urbach was 4-0 at state, 40-4 on the year and finished his career with approximately 140 pins and technical falls.
Nate Urbach said he was proud to see his son, Nic, finish his career the way Nate was unable to. Coach Urbach won a state title as a junior but finished second his senior season.
“I told him at the beginning, ‘You have my senior year that I wanted,’” Nate Urbach said.
The coach said watching his son was never easy.
“It’s tough, especially in those big finals situations,” Nate Urbach said. “I’ve really enjoyed it, now I’m glad it’s over.”
Darrah makes senior leap
Darrah’s ascension to a title was won during Powell’s most entertaining final bout. An escape with about 15 seconds left in the third period scored Darrah the title-winning point of the 5-4 decision over Worland’s JD Nelson.
“I was just patient there at the end, and when the opportunity came I just got out of there,” Darrah said. “For a while there I thought it was going to go into overtime.
“Anything can happen in overtime. It’s sudden death. If he takes me down I’m done, if I take him down he’s done. I was tired, I didn’t want go into overtime and have to worry about that.”
With the final second ticking off the clock, Darrah raised his arms in victory even as Nelson tried a desperation shot and briefly brought Darrah to his knees.
“He shot in on me, and I was able to hold him off, and the time went off and I was able to win the match,” Darrah said.
Darrah took a mental and competitive leap after finishing sixth as a junior.
“I just had a goal in my mind that I was going to be state champ,” Darrah said. “It was my final meet, my final season, and I just wanted to go out on top.”
Star Valley won only one individual title, but won the team competition with their unmatched depth and balance.
Four Braves were the runners-up in their weight classes, while five finished third, four placed fifth and two took sixth.
“The bad news is they’re going to be better next year,” Nate Urbach said.
Worland (third place) and Glenrock (fourth) each won three individual titles.
The end of Powell’s streak didn’t turn the Panthers bitter. Coach Urbach said most of the kids reached their potential and the wrestlers exhibited a lot of improvement over the course of the season.
“Overall I was really proud of these kids,” Nate Urbach said. “I thought they wrestled real well at state. We medaled 10 kids, four champs, and I thought they wrestled about as good as they could have.”
Coach Urbach expressed his gratitude for his assistant coaches, Zach Coombs, Nick Fulton and Tim Jordan, and the Powell community.
“Powell is the best place in the world to coach wrestling,” he said.