The Powell High School wrestling team opened 2019 on the road last weekend, competing at the Tom LeProwse Invitational in Bozeman, Montana.
The Panthers finished a respectable 12th out of 29 teams, scoring 88 points and placing four wrestlers — Reese Karst, Seth Horton, Bo Dearcorn and Emma Karhu — in the top eight. Schools from all over Montana competed in the event, with Powell and Cody the only two schools representing Wyoming.
“We did well. It’s a tough tournament, so you have to be ready to go,” said Powell head coach Nate Urbach. “We’re not quite used to that [talent] level — we haven’t had that level of competition yet. It’s kind of like meeting a pitcher that throws 90 miles per hour; it’s a different deal. But it’s good for us and I thought, for the most part, we did pretty well.”
The Panthers were without Brody Karhu at 152 pounds, who was sidelined with an injury. The top-ranked wrestler in the state in his weight class, Karhu is expected to be ready for this weekend’s Missoula Invitational.
“That hurt us, having one of our team leaders out,” Urbach said. “But this is the time of year if you’re going to have injuries, rather than at regionals or state.”
Reese Karst was the top finisher for the Panthers, taking third at 138 pounds.
“Reese [Karst] did well, but he had a tough semifinal match,” Urbach said. “But he came back like a champ and finished third.”
After pinning his first three opponents, Karst lost a 9-6 decision to Great Falls’ Carter Carroll in the championship semifinals. He bounced back in the consolation semis, pinning Billings Skyview’s Cameron Savaria at the one-minute mark. The defending 3A state champion at 138 then pinned Laurel’s Keagan Campbell for third place. Karst finished 5-1 for the tournament, with five pins.
At 160 pounds, Powell’s Seth Horton finished 5-2, taking fourth in perhaps the most talent-laden weight class of the tournament.
“I think probably the best overall performance was Seth Horton,” Urbach said. “He ended up fourth in a loaded weight class. For a sophomore to be fourth at 160, that’s a heck of an accomplishment. He did really well.”
After losing a close quarterfinal match by a point to Colstrip’s Ty Bradley 3-2, Horton won his next three matches over Wyatt Shinn (Missoula Big Sky), Tristyn Gilliam (Helena Capital) and Coy Cohenour (Bozeman) to advance to the third-place match. Against Jett Rebish of Missoula Big Sky, Horton lost a 7-1 decision, finishing fourth.
Bo Dearcorn posted a 4-2 record at 182 pounds, finishing fifth for the tournament.
“Bo [Dearcorn] had a pretty good tournament; he had a couple of matches that could have gone the other way,” Urbach said. “But all in all, he did pretty well.”
Dearcorn pinned Billings West’s Jaydn Hoff to advance to the championship round semifinals, where he lost a 7-2 decision to Laurel’s Cameron Younger. In the consolation semis, Dearcorn matched up against his Park County rival, Charlie Beaudrie of Cody. Looking to avenge a loss to Dearcorn earlier this season at the Powell Invitational, Beaudrie came out on top this time around, pinning Dearcorn at the 1:56 mark. Dearcorn rebounded in the fifth-place match, pinning his quarterfinal opponent Hoff in just 19 seconds — his second pin of Hoff in the tournament.
Emma Karhu continued to impress at 113 pounds, posting a 3-3 record and finishing eighth for the tournament.
“Emma [Karhu] finished eighth, which is really good, too,” Urbach said. “I thought she had a really good weekend.”
After pinning her first two opponents, Karhu fell to Butte’s Will Queer in the quarterfinals. She rebounded with a 5-3 win over Laurel’s Ivan Lee in the consolation round before losing her final two matches against Easton Shupe (Great Falls) and Dawson Powers (Whitehall).
Other Panther wrestlers of note were Michael Maddox, who posted a 2-2 record at 126 pounds; Matthew Seckman, who finished 2-2 at 205 pounds; and Duy Hoang and Sawyer Mauthe, both 2-2 at 285 pounds.
The Panthers are back on the mat this weekend, once again heading north to Big Sky country for the Missoula Invitational. Though he liked what he saw from the team in Bozeman, Urbach said there’s always work to be done, and the Missoula meet will go a long way toward illustrating what needs to be fixed.
“I’m certainly not satisfied — we have a lot of room to grow — but it is what it is,” the coach said. “It’s all practice until state anyway. We’re just going to work on fixing the things that need it.”
Urbach is looking forward to the Missoula tourney.
“You always want to challenge your kids as much as you can and put them against the best kids you can. It never hurts a kid to wrestle at his or her limits,” he said. “There’s really no substitute for tough, hard-nosed competition.”