The Powell High School wrestling team squared off against the best Wyoming has to offer over the weekend, placing fifth as a team at the annual Ron Thon Memorial Invitational in Riverton.
Considered by many to be the premiere wrestling tournament in the state, the Ron Thon featured 43 teams from across the state in a best-of-the-best style tournament. Four Panther wrestlers made the podium, with Brody Karhu winning the title at 152 pounds and Reese Karst placing second at 138 pounds. Seth Horton was fourth at 160 pounds and Bo Dearcorn wrestled to a fifth-place finish at 182 pounds.
4A Kelly Walsh took home the team title with 217.5 points, followed by Green River with 181 and Thunder Basin with 152. Star Valley was the top 3A finisher, landing in fourth place with 138 points, followed closely by Powell with 136.5.
“It was a good weekend. I thought we wrestled well,” said Powell head coach Nate Urbach. “We were within a point-and-a-half of Star Valley, which is a heck of an accomplishment. It’s a showcase tournament for the state — basically, every team in the state is there. It was good to see how we stacked up against bigger schools, and being fifth out of 43 or 44 teams, that’s a pretty good accomplishment.”
Every Powell wrestler who competed won at least one match — something Urbach said is key in terms of team points.
“In a team race, you need everybody to be scoring points,” he said. “That’s super-important in an event like this.”
Karhu posted a 5-0 record en route to the title, three of them by pins. In the championship match, the junior squared off against Kelly Walsh’s Josh Kraus, winning a 6-3 decision. Kraus placed fourth in the state in 4A last year at 132 pounds.
“Brody Karhu had a great tournament. He wrestled real steady,” Urbach said. “He had a real tough kid in the finals — I think he may have been down or it was tied — and he came back and got a takedown at the end when he needed to. Just a real good, veteran response. It was good to see.”
After pinning his first two opponents, Karhu faced Wheatland’s Seth DeWitt in the quarterfinals, taking a 10-5 decision. He then pinned Cheyenne East’s Jackson Hesford — last year’s third-place finisher in 4A at 138 pounds — in the semifinals.
At 138 pounds, Karst finished 4-1 to place second. The senior pinned three of his four opponents (the fourth he won by technical fall) en route to the championship match. There he faced Rock Springs’ Cameron Metcalf, the two-time defending 4A state champion at 132 pounds. Karst lost a hard-fought decision, 7-3.
“The match really could have gone either way,” Urbach said. “Reese [Karst] got into a hole late, but he battled back. Time was running out and he tried to get a move going. It really could have gone either way, and I thought Reese wrestled really well the entire tournament.”
At 160 pounds, Powell’s Seth Horton finished 5-2, taking fourth.
“Seth [Horton] has just been steady, doing great as a sophomore,” Urbach said. “For him to get fourth in this tournament is just a huge accomplishment. He beat some really tough kids, I was really proud of him. I think that’s as good as I’ve ever seen him wrestle.”
Horton won his first two matches over 4A opponents, pinning Sheridan’s Brenden Clem and Campbell County’s Joseph Serrano. He lost in the quarterfinals to Torrington’s Jacob Polkowske, but rebounded in the consolation rounds, winning his next two matches. Horton decisioned Rock Springs’ Tristan Profaizer 5-1 in the consolation semis, but lost the third-place match against Polkowske 7-2.
Dearcorn also posted a 5-2 record at 182 pounds, finishing fifth for the tournament.
“Bo [Dearcorn] had a couple of close matches where he showed some good heart,” Urbach said. “I was proud of him; I thought he had a great tournament. Anytime you place at Ron Thon, it’s a great job, it’s a tough tournament to place in.”
After losing a quarterfinal match to Cokeville’s Bentley Johnson, Dearcorn won two matches to advance to the consolation semis. Against familiar foe Charlie Beaudrie of Cody in the consolation semis, Dearcorn lost an 8-2 decision, but rebounded in the fifth-place match, pinning Rocky Mountain’s Nathan Hatch.
Among the Panthers’ other wrestlers: Emma Karhu posted a 2-2 record at 106 pounds; Michael Maddox finished 2-2 at 126 pounds; Corey Linebaugh went 3-2 at 132 pounds; Cole Davis posted a 2-2 record at 145 pounds; Cameron Schmidt finished 4-2 at 170 pounds; Carson Olsen went 3-2 at 220 pounds; Duy Hoang posted a 3-2 record at 285 pounds and Sawyer Mauthe also went 3-2 at 285 pounds.
“I thought Cameron Schmidt wrestled really well,” Urbach said. “Carson Olsen also wrestled really well — he’s come a long way. In a lot of ways, he’s kind of a first-year wrestler, and he’s just a sponge. He’s getting better every day, and that’s awesome to watch.”
The Panthers are back on the mat Friday for a dual at Lander, followed by a dual at Cody next Tuesday. Urbach said the team will continue to fine tune the little things they need to work on, and he’d like to see some more consistency out of the lower weight classes.
“We still have some things to work on down there,” Urbach said. “We’re a little too inconsistent; we gotta work on bottom a little more. It’s hard to win matches if you can’t get off bottom, so we’re going to work on that this week.”