After a dominating 57-18 win over visiting Laurel on Thursday, the Powell High School wrestling team battled their way to a second-place finish over the weekend in the 16-team Lander Invitational.
A talented Star Valley team took the team title in Lander with 261.5 points, followed by Powell with 204 points and Douglas with 161.5 points. Worland and Pinedale rounded out the top five with 121 points and 117.5 points, respectively.
“It wasn’t a bad weekend. We did pretty well,” said Powell head coach Nate Urbach. “That Star Valley team is loaded, and there was some strong competition.”
Three Panthers finished in the top spot in their respective weight classes in Lander, with Reese Karst at 138 pounds, Brody Karhu at 152 pounds and Bo Dearcorn at 182 pounds all winning the championship. In all, 10 Panthers placed in the crowded 16-team field.
“All three of those guys [Karst, Karhu, Dearcorn] all wrestled really well,” said Powell head coach Nate Urbach.
At 138 pounds Karst finished 5-0, taking first in Lander for the second time in his career.
“Reese [Karst] looked really good,” Urbach said, adding, “He came through and led the team as a senior should. He was impressive throughout his matches.”
Karst won his final three matches by first-round pin, sticking Mountain View’s Swade Bindl in 1:02 in the quarterfinals and Wheatland’s Ethan Read at the 1:09 mark. In the championship match, Karst pinned Lander’s Nathan Redman in 45 seconds.
Brody Karhu was 4-0 at 152 pounds, winning the title with two pins and two decisions.
“Brody [Karhu] is back and finally getting into his groove a little bit,” Urbach said. “It was kind of hard coming back from Missoula for him, but he was real dominant here. You can see some of the rust is coming off. He looked very good.”
In the semifinals, Karhu defeated Seth Dewitt of Wheatland by major decision, 9-1. In the championship match, Karhu blanked Lander’s Jack Sweeney 7-0 to claim the title.
Dearcorn was also 4-0 at 182 pounds, pinning all four of his opponents en route to the title.
“Bo [Dearcorn] wrestled real steady for us. He’s tough on top,” Urbach said. “He took advantage of his opportunities and wrestled really well.”
Dearcorn’s longest match of the tournament was in the semifinals against Wind River’s Colton Befus — and he pinned Befus at the 2:41 mark. Dearcorn won the championship match in less than a minute, pinning Worland’s Isaac Goncalves at the 42-second mark.
As for the Panthers’ other placers, perhaps the biggest surprise was the second-place finish by senior Sawyer Mauthe at 285 pounds. A first-year wrestler, Mauthe pinned his first three opponents to earn a spot in the championship match. He lost the title to Star Valley’s Parker Merritt, finishing 3-1 for the tournament.
Urbach said his second-string heavyweight “wrestled really well.”
“He’s a first-year kid, got a lot of heart and determination, and he made the most of it,” the coach said of Mauthe.
Wrestling at 106 pounds, Powell’s Emma Karhu finished 3-2, taking fifth place. In the fifth-place match, Karhu pinned Lander’s Cesar Weed at the 2:51 mark.
Seth Horton finished fourth at 160 pounds, compiling a 4-2 record.
“Seth [Horton] lost a couple of close matches that hopefully we can reverse later on in the year,” Urbach said.
After losing a close 6-3 decision to Torrington’s Jacob Polkowske in the semifinals, Horton beat Mountain View’s Mark Walker 9-0 in the consolation semis. Wrestling for third, Horton lost another close match, this time to Douglas’ Christian Coffman 8-6.
At 170 pounds, senior Cameron Schmidt finished 4-2 and placed fifth. After losing a 9-3 decision to Burns/Pine Bluffs’ Boe Clayson in the consolation semis, Schmidt pinned Big Piney’s Justin Seeman in the fifth-place match at the 1:45 mark.
The coach said Schmidt “wrestled really well” and “just had a really good tournament.”
“He’s getting solid, working hard, doing all the right things,” Urbach said. “It’s good to see him reap the rewards.”
Matthew Seckman was sixth at 195 with a 2-3 record. Seckman won his first two matches over Star Valley’s Bryan Ray and Thermopolis’ Chance Watt. Watt came back to beat Seckman in the fifth-place match, 10-3.
Carsen Olsen was also sixth at 220 pounds, finishing 3-3. After losing his opening round match, Olsen rattled off three straight wins to reach the consolation semis. He lost to Thermopolis’ Logan Cole in that match, then fell to Star Valley’s Brennan Harris in the fifth-place match.
“Carsen [Olsen] really took some big steps this weekend, so that was good to see,” Urbach said.
Powell’s other 285-pounder, Duy Hoang, finished fourth, recording a 4-2 record. Hoang decisioned Pinedale’s Carson Cantu 9-6 in the consolation semis before losing a 3-0 decision to Torrington’s Brandon Bennick in the third-place match.
Other Panther wrestlers who competed at the Lander Invite included Cole Davis (4-2 at 145 pounds), Riley Bennett (2-2 at 132 pounds), Corey Linebaugh (2-2 at 145 pounds), Michael Maddox (2-2 at 126 pounds), Colt Nicholson (2-2 at 106 pounds), Brent Childers (1-2 at 113 pounds) and Trevor Feller (1-2 at 120 pounds).
The Panthers are back on the mat today (Tuesday) in a dual meet against Lovell. The team heads to Riverton Friday for the annual Ron Thon Memorial Tournament, considered to be the premier tournament of its kind in the state.
“We have Ron Thon this weekend, so we’re working towards that,” Urbach said. “We’re looking forward to that, it’s always a fun event. Everybody in the state is there, so the kids are excited, I’m excited. It’ll be fun.”