Twenty qualify for state wrestling

Dees earns second regional title

Posted 2/20/24

Over two busy days at Riverton High School the Powell Panther wrestling team battled for state qualification spots, as 20 boys and girls qualified for the state championships in Casper this weekend …

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Twenty qualify for state wrestling

Dees earns second regional title


Over two busy days at Riverton High School the Powell Panther wrestling team battled for state qualification spots, as 20 boys and girls qualified for the state championships in Casper this weekend and Jimmy Dees brought home his second straight regional title.

Those qualifications included five finalists for the Panthers, four boys and one girl, with Dees leading the way as the lone victor at 215 pounds.

Dees earned a bye before pinning his quarterfinal opponent in 28 seconds and his semifinal opponent in 42 seconds to set up a Ron Thon title rematch with Riverton’s Ryan Watson that Dees won two weeks prior.

This time around he fell behind early, but escaped before using a strong second period to help separate himself from Watson.

Dees rode out the final period, earning a 10-6 decision to claim a regional title for the second straight year after winning at 195 pounds the year prior.

“Jimmy actually got kind of caught right away in the first period,” coach Nick Fulton said. “He had a lot of heart, cleared bottom, chose top in the second period and dominated the second period. He looked good and showed a lot of courage and determination to win. Mentally that’s a big step moving forward for Jimmy.”

Two more finalists came at the lighter weights for the Panther boys, as Wyatt Nicholson placed second at 106 pounds going 2-1 but fell via pin (3:05) in the championship, as well as Gabriel Whiting at 113 pounds who also went 2-1 and lost via pin (2:41) in the final.

“Gabriel beat a returning state champion in the semifinals. He was kind of in control the whole match so that was a good win,” Fulton said. “Wyatt wrestled really well — had a tough Green River kid in the finals.”

Doug Bettger was the final boys’ finalist at 285 pounds, going 3-1 including two close decisions in the quarterfinals and semifinals before losing via pin (3:29) in the championship.

“Doug had a great tournament,” Fulton said. “He wrestled well in the finals, came up a little short there but set up well. A couple things we can work on and see if we can close that gap in a week.”

On the girls’ side the lone finalist was Allison LeBlanc, who advanced to the final after two pins and a 7-4 decision in the semifinal before losing a close 3-2 decision in the final.

“She wrestled a little tight all weekend,” Fulton said. “She was just a little tight and we have to get her to open up a little bit.”

The Powell boys also got a host of other top finishes, including Chevy Hill who placed third (3-1) at 113 pounds; Talon Nuss placed fourth at 106 pounds (2-2); Patrick Haney placed fourth at 144 pounds (4-2); McKale Foley placed fourth at 165 pounds (2-2); Jacob Eaton placed fourth at 215 pounds (3-2) and Jonathan Harms placed fourth at 285 pounds (3-2).

Other qualifiers for the Panther boys included Cody Seifert who placed fifth at 144 pounds (2-2); Tyler Wenzel placed seventh at 126 pounds (3-2); Jeremy Harms placed seventh at 150 pounds (2-2); Mitchel Wainscott placed seventh at 157 pounds (2-2); Wyatt Heffington placed eighth at 138 pounds (3-2) and Dusty Carter placed eighth at 175 pounds (3-2).

That gives the boys 16 qualifiers for the state tournament this weekend after placing fourth as a team in Riverton with 145 points, just ahead of Evanston with 143 and just behind Cody with 156 points in third.

“I’m happy with where we are. Certainly a couple things to clean up this week and then it’s go time,” Fulton said.

Other Panthers competing included Kash Brazelton at 138 pounds (1-2); Braxton Batt at 120 pounds (0-2); Troy Cheatham at 126 pounds (0-2); David Yates at 132 pounds (0-2); Broc Frank at 132 pounds (0-2); Reese Lowe at 150 pounds (0-2); Chase Visocky at 157 pounds (0-2); Ricky Gonzalez at 165 pounds (0-2) and Denton Wainscott at 190 pounds (0-2).

Three more Panther girls qualified for the state tournament, as a large field all-around saw Kaprina Haney finish fifth (1-2) at 135 pounds, Eleasah Horsley place fifth at 115 pounds (2-2) and Abigail LeBlanc place seventh at 115 pounds (1-2).

Other girls competing included Nalani Jordan going 2-2 at 130 pounds, River James going 1-2 at 120 pounds and Caydee Eden going 0-2 at 100 pounds.

“It’s such a big tournament with 26 teams and that’s different,” Fulton said. “They all wrestled really well, but it was so big and tough.”



All 20 Panthers will head down to Casper this weekend, taking part in the state tournament set to take place Thursday through Saturday at the Ford Wyoming Center.

Thursday will kick off with first round matchups at noon, Friday will kick off with quarterfinals at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday will kick off with consolation semifinals at 10:30 a.m. with championship matches scheduled for a 2:15 p.m. start.

Heading to state the girls are looking for a strong finish individually to the season, with the Panthers unlikely to compete for a team trophy with other teams around the state being vastly larger in the second year of official competition.

“There’s several teams that are fielding 14 girls. Right now our girls are talented and tough, but team wise we are looking at them as individuals for sure,” Fulton said.

For the boys the Panthers will be looking to move into a trophy placement this year, knowing it will be a battle between a host of teams including the top five in the west in addition to 3A East champion Rawlins.

“I have a lot of confidence in my guys,” Fulton said. “It’s one match at a time, my guys are gritty … It’s going to be a back and forth battle at state. Green River will be pretty hard to topple. Second through sixth is kind of wide open.”