Panther Grapplers win home invite

Off to a strong start with four individual champs

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The Powell High School wrestling team is off to a strong start for the 2018-19 season, finishing first as a team over the weekend at the Powell Invitational with medal winners in each weight class.

Due to an issue with the scoring program used for the event, online results incorrectly listed Natrona County as the winner of the event, with Powell second. But in fact, the Panthers won the tournament for the second straight year.

Seven Panthers advanced to the championship match in their respective weight class, with four walking off the mat as champions. In all, 16 varsity wrestlers reached the podium, with at least one athlete in each weight class.

“Every weight class, we had someone in the top four,” said PHS head coach Nate Urbach. “I’ve never had that before; it was really unique to have a perfect quarterfinal round. We basically put half of our kids in the finals, and that’s something I wouldn’t have envisioned.”

Individual champions included Reese Karst at 145 pounds, Brody Karhu at 152 pounds, Seth Horton at 160 pounds and Bo Dearcorn at 182 pounds.

Emma Karhu wrestled her way to a second-place finish at 113 pounds, as did Cameron Schmidt at 170 pounds and Duy Hoang at 285 pounds.

“Overall, I thought we were aggressive. We went after people. We showed some leadership,” Urbach said of his team. “Obviously there were some mistakes made out there that we’ll have to work on, but the effort and the attitude were good. We had some  really good competition, some good matches.”

At 106 pounds, Powell’s Colt Nicholson finished with a 3-3 record, pinning Cody’s Matt Strobe in the quarterfinals, before losing to Gillette’s Colt Welsh in the semis. Nicholson lost to Natrona County’s Kael Johnson in the third place match, finishing fourth overall.

A pair of Panthers placed in the 113-pound class, with Emma Karhu (6-1) finishing as runner-up and teammate Brent Childers (4-3) taking fifth.

“I was really impressed with Childers, my backup 113-pounder. He really did well,” Urbach said. “He’s a go-getter; he gets after people. I was really impressed with him as far as my young guys.”

Emma Karhu decisioned Lander’s Paxton Rees 7-2 to advance to the championship match, where she was pinned by Natrona County’s Billy Brenton for the title.

“Emma is tough; she’s gotten better,” Urbach said. “Last year, I think everyone was kind of shocked at how good she was, and I worried that she wouldn’t continue to improve. But she has gotten better — she was able to handle that extra weight at 113, and she looked good this weekend. She lost to Brenton from Natrona, he’s a real good kid. But Emma did a great job.”

Trevor Feller finished fourth at 120 pounds, compiling a 3-4 record. Feller’s 6-0 decision over Cade Goblet of Livingston put him in the semifinals, where he fell 6-0 to Wright’s Preston Seaman. Feller lost the third- place match by pin to Lovell’s Alex Nicholson.

Michael Maddox (3-2) and Riley Bennett (4-2) both earned fourth-place finishes, at 126 and 132 pounds, respectively. Maddox pinned Wyatt McDermott of Thermopolis in the quarterfinals, but lost to Lovell’s Quinton Hecker in the semis. Bennett advanced to the semis with a 12-8 decision over Thermopolis’ Blake Williams, before losing the third-place match to Lovell’s Asher Nicholson.

Corey Linebaugh finished fourth at 138 pounds, going 3-4 for the tournament. Linebaugh decisioned Rocky Mountain’s Trent Lytle 5-2 in the quarterfinals, avenging an earlier loss to Lytle in the tournament’s second round. Linebaugh lost the third-place match to Cody’s Zain Fitzgerald 15-3.

Karst was a perfect 7-0 for the tournament at 145 pounds, winning six matches by pin and one by technical fall. Teammate Cole Davis also did well at 145, placing sixth with a 3-3 record. The defending state champion at 138 pounds, Karst pinned Riverton’s Ridge Briggs at 1:20 of the first round of the 145-pound title match.

“Reese looked really good at this tournament. I don’t think he got out of the first period,” Urbach said. “In the finals, he pinned a returning state champion: Briggs was a state champion as a freshman and finished third as a sophomore. He’s a really legitimate wrestler, a really good kid.”

Also perfect at 5-0 on the tournament was Brody Karhu at 152 pounds. The defending state champion breezed through Friday’s matches with three first-round pins, receiving a bye in the quarterfinals. Karhu decisioned Buffalo’s Clay Reiner 7-0 in the semis on Saturday, then pinned Gillette’s Dawson Hayden in 25 seconds in the championship match.

“Brody was real steady for us throughout the weekend. He looked really good,” Urbach said. “I think he pinned everybody but the one kid he beat 7-0, so he was pretty dominant.”

At 160 pounds, Powell’s Seth Horton finished 6-0, defeating Lander’s Jack Sweeney 3-1 for the championship. The two wrestlers share a history, with Sweeney beating Horton at regionals last season.

“It was a good match for him [Horton] to be able to get after Sweeney like that,” Urbach said. “They’re buddies, but they have a good rivalry going. They’re both really good competitors, and Jack [Sweeney] has been getting Seth lately, so it was nice for him to come out with a win there.”

Cameron Schmidt had a strong tournament at 170 pounds, compiling a 5-1 record to finish second. Schmidt pinned Gillette’s Joseph Serrano in the semifinals, before losing to Jon Harvey of Thermopolis in the championship match.

“Cameron wrestled really well; he had a great tournament. That was the best I’d ever seen him wrestle,” Urbach said. “He’s really improved since last season. We have to have guys like him step up down the road, and he has so far, so that’s great to see.”

At 182 pounds, Bo Dearcorn was a perfect 7-0 for the tournament, highlighted by a pin in the finals of Cody’s Charlie Beaudrie, last year’s state champion in the weight class.

“Bo wrestled awesome,” Urbach said. “That’s a big rivalry with the kid from Cody — he’s a tough kid, returning state champion. Bo was third last year, so that was kind of the matchup we were waiting for. Bo just went out there and wrestled really, really well. It was fun, it was an exciting match. Rivalries always are.”

The Panthers had a pair of third-place finishers in Matthew Seckman at 195 pounds and Carson Olsen at 220 pounds. Seckman finished 4-3 for the tournament, pinning Greybull’s Tate Clutter at the 3:03 mark of the third-place match. Olsen compiled a 5-2 record, decisioning Wind River’s Owen McAdams 6-4 for bronze.

Powell heavyweight Duy Hoang was the seventh finalist for the Panthers, finishing with a 6-1 record at 285 pounds. Hoang blanked Thunder Basin’s Zachary Ship 4-0 in the semifinals before getting pinned by Natrona’s Trevon Smith in the title match.

“Duy had a good tournament; he beat the number one kid in 3A earlier,” Urbach said. “He’s really done well for us, and he’s gotten a lot better from last year. But that kid from Natrona [Smith] is just very good. He’s a returning 4A state champ who moves really well. It was a good match, but Duy was just a little outgunned. He needs a little more experience throughout the year.”

The Panthers head to Worland this weekend for the Battle of the Bighorns, and Urbach said he expects to see a lot of talented teams make the trip.

“We’ll see Douglas, who is definitely one of the top contenders in 3A,” he said. “We’ll see Worland, who’s also really tough. We’ll see Sheridan [and] a bunch of other good schools. We’re looking forward to going down there and seeing what we can do. It will be a tough one.”

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