The Powell High School wrestling team continued its fast start to the 2018-19 season last weekend, winning the annual Battle in the Big Horns duals tournament in Worland.
The Panthers finished 5-1 in dual competitions, beating Lovell and Worland on Friday and Pinedale, Wheatland and Sheridan Saturday. Powell’s only loss came against Sheridan Friday in pool play; the dual was actually a tie, but Powell was designated the loser by criteria. The Panthers avenged that loss Saturday, beating the Broncs 46-27 in the first-place match of the Gold Bracket.
“We didn’t really wrestle very well against Sheridan [on Friday], and I told the kids that if we did the right things, there was a good chance we would meet them again,” said Panther head coach Nate Urbach. “I was really proud of how the kids responded. Overall, the whole team did pretty darn well. We knew we would have a shot at winning it, and now we can go into Christmas feeling good and ready to go.”
The Panthers opened pool play Friday with a 58-21 win over Lovell, taking 10 of 14 matches. That was followed by the 38-37 loss to Sheridan — with the dual awarded to Sheridan by virtue of the most pins. Powell shook off the loss to defeat the host team Worland 66-12 in the final dual of pool play.
In Saturday’s Gold Bracket quarterfinal, the Panthers beat “a very tough Pinedale team” 51-24, followed by a 59-19 win over Wheatland in the semifinals. That set up a rematch against Sheridan in the first-place match, with the outcome decidedly different — a 46-27 win for the Panthers.
“It was really good to see; we reversed a lot of matches that we lost the day before,” Urbach said. “Even the matches we didn’t win, they were much closer than they were [the day before]. It was good — the kids really responded well.”
The Panthers were led on the weekend by Reese Karst at 145 pounds, Brody Karhu at 152 pounds, Bo Dearcorn at 182 pounds and Matthew Seckman at 195 pounds. All four Powell wrestlers posted 6-0 records.
Brody Karhu won all of his matches by pins in under a minute. The defending state champion at 152 pounds, Brody Karhu pinned Wheatland’s Kye Hicks in 35 seconds in the semifinals of the Gold Bracket. He followed that with an 18-second pin over Sheridan’s Brock Steel in the first-place match.
“Brody Karhu really looked good this weekend,” Urbach said. “I don’t think any of his matches went over a minute. He hasn’t had an offensive point scored on him yet this season.”
Karst — who was the state champion at 138 pounds last season — beat Wheatland’s Drake Amundson by a 15-0 technical fall in the semifinals and pinned Sheridan’s Hayden Crow in 1:54 in the first-place match.
Dearcorn pinned Sheridan’s Quinton Mangus in 36 seconds in the first-place match, while Seckman won by a 10-2 major decision over Sheridan’s Camden McArthur.
Cameron Schmidt continued to make strides at 170 pounds, finishing 4-2 for the tournament, including pins over Cross Hernandez of Wheatland and Skyler Erickson of Pinedale.
“I thought Cameron [Schmidt] wrestled really well. He’s really coming along and doing the things we want him to do,” Urbach said. “If we’re going to challenge for a team title, we have to have guys like that step up. He’s been doing that, and that’s really good to see.”
Seth Horton posted a 5-1 record at 160 pounds, and was able to avenge his lone loss of the tournament, a first-round pin at the hands of Sheridan’s Quinn Heyneman. The two wrestlers met again in the Gold Bracket title match, with Horton gutting out an 8-4 win.
“Seth Horton is another wrestler who had a great tournament,” Urbach said. “He got pinned by the Sheridan kid in our first dual, then came back and beat him in a really exciting match. That was excellent. He’s taking the right steps and getting things figured out, which is great.”
Powell heavyweight Duy Hoang was also the beneficiary of a revenge match. After getting pinned by Sheridan’s Justin Vela on Friday, Hoang earned a 7-4 decision in the rematch Saturday, giving him a 3-2 record on the weekend. Teammate and fellow heavyweight Sawyer Mauthe also wrestled well, posting a 3-0 record with three pins.
Colt Nicholson and Emma Karhu both went 3-3 at 106 pounds and 113 pounds, respectively. Evan Habeck was 1-5 at 120 pounds, Michael Maddox was 2-3 at 126 pounds and Michael Timmons was 1-0, also at 126 pounds.
Riley Bennett was 3-3 at 132 pounds, Corey Linebaugh was 1-5 at 138 pounds and Carson Olsen went 2-4 at 220 pounds.
The Panthers also had Karst, Brody Karhu, Horton and Seckman make the best of the best, which takes the four best wrestlers from each weight class to battle it out on the mat for tournament bragging rights. Brody Karhu finished first, while his three teammates placed second.
Urbach said the team battled through some adversity from a health standpoint last week, and for the wrestlers to perform as well as they did is a testament to their hard work and dedication to the program.
“I couldn’t be prouder of those kids. I’ve been as proud of other teams, but never been more proud,” Urbach said. “They just stepped up and showed a lot of heart. It’s easy to perform when you feel good and everything’s right. It takes something special to do it when you’re not feeling 100 percent. It always makes a coach proud to see that.”
The Panthers have a break for the holidays, and will be back in action Jan. 4 at the Bozeman Invitational. Urbach said the team will take some time off to enjoy the holidays with their families, but will still find time for practice.
“I’m happy for the break, because it will give everybody the chance to get healthy,” he said. “We just have to make Christmas practices meaningful. I always like Christmas practices; the pressure is off a little bit. I always like this time of year.”