It was a solid showing for the Powell High School wrestling team at the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic over the weekend, as the squad finished seventh in the 33-team event.
Reese Karst won the championship at 138 pounds, only the second Panther wrestler to ever win a title at the Jug Beck in Missoula, Montana.
Three other Panthers placed at the event, with Brody Karhu sixth at 152 pounds, Seth Horton fourth at 160 pounds and Bo Dearcorn fourth at 182 pounds.
“It was a good weekend for us — we wrestled well,” said Panther head coach Nate Urbach. “We ended up seventh against some tough competition. There were teams from Washington, a bunch of Idaho schools, bunch of Montana schools. And one Wyoming school, represented by us.”
Karst posted a 5-0 record en route to the title, four of them by pins. In the championship match, the senior squared off against Missoula Sentinel’s Reece Eckley, pinning him in 51 seconds.
The other Panther to take a title at the Jug Beck? Karst’s older brother Chance, who finished first in 2016, also at 138 pounds. Though having two brothers win the event is impressive, Urbach said the younger Karst might have bragging rights over his sibling.
“Reese pinned his guy [in the championship final], where Chance didn’t, so I think Reese is ahead,” the coach said.
At a tournament the size of the Jug Beck, Urbach said the competition is tough and experienced; to win a title in a field of over 30 kids, a wrestler has to be at the top of his or her game.
“Once you get to the quarters, you’re up against kids who are multiple state placers, sometimes multiple state champs, so you have to be ready to go,” Urbach said. “You have to put together four or five really good matches. For Reese [Karst] to win was a huge accomplishment.”
At 152 pounds, Karhu finished 3-3 to place sixth.
“The thing with Brody [Karhu] is he hasn’t had a lot of practices since we’ve been back from break, so he’s a little rusty,” Urbach said. “And that’s a tough tournament to go into with a little rust on you. He should be better this next weekend.”
Still recovering from an injury that kept him out of the Bozeman Invitational the previous weekend, Karhu won a pair of decisions against Nampa, Idaho’s Caleb Leach and Kyler Anstrom of University High to reach the semifinals. Against Bozeman’s Chance McLane in the semis, Karhu lost his first match of the season by a 6-0 decision. In the consolation semis, the junior lost to Bridger Wenzel from Polson, then to Caiden Hilliard from Great Falls in the fifth-place match.
At 160 pounds, Powell’s Seth Horton finished 4-2, taking fourth.
“Seth [Horton] has really been wrestling well,” Urbach said. “He’s getting better every week and with every match. That’s what we’re looking for out of him.”
Horton won his first three matches, including a major decision in the quarterfinals against Ferris’ Chris Homen 9-0. He lost in the semifinals to Bozeman’s Coy Cohenour, but rebounded in the consolation semis, decisioning Lewistown’s Duane Otto 7-4. Horton lost a close 5-3 decision to Missoula Big Sky’s Jett Rebish in the third-place match.
Bo Dearcorn posted a 4-2 record at 182 pounds, also finishing fourth for the tournament.
“Bo did well, but he didn’t have a very good quarterfinal,” Urbach said. “But he really went on a tear on the back side. He did a good job and showed a lot of heart to wrestle back through.”
After losing a quarterfinal match to Nampa’s Liam Shannon 11-5, Dearcorn won his next three matches by pin over Garrett Terrill (Mead), Trey Green (Superior) and Paxton Boyce (Flathead) to advance to the third-place match. In a rematch against Shannon of Nampa, Dearcorn lost by pin.
Other Panther wrestlers of note were Colt Nicholson, who posted a 3-2 record at 103 pounds; Emma Karhu, who finished 2-2 at 113 pounds; Cole Davis, who finished 2-2 at 145 pounds; and Cameron Schmidt, who posted a 3-2 record at 170 pounds.
Riley Bennett was 1-2 at 132 pounds and Duy Hoang was 3-2 at 285 pounds.
“Everybody won a match, which I think is super-important at that level,” Urbach said. “Every wrestler had over 30 guys in their bracket, so it was competitive.”
The Panthers are back on the mat tonight (Thursday), hosting a dual meet against Laurel at Panther Gym. This weekend, the team will head south to the Lander Invitational, a meet where the Panthers will get a good look at their in-state competition.
“The Lander meet is basically a 3A state tournament, so we need to be ready for that,” Urbach said. “It’s going to be a good indicator of where we’re at against everyone else.”