Greybull-Riverside dropped its opening dual to Worland and finished well off the pace of the leaders in the high-powered Powell Roundtable Invitational, but in the grand scheme, it was still a very productive three days on the mats for the Buffs.
Coach Mark Sanford said he saw some good things from his young team, which is breaking in a slew of new wrestlers this season while at the same time already dealing with some pretty significant injuries.
In their season-opening dual Thursday in Basin, the Buffs couldn’t overcome five forfeits.
“We knew Worland was a solid 3A squad and that it was going to be tough, and of course, we started off giving them 30 points,” Sanford said, noting that wrestlers were held out of the lineup for a variety of reasons, including illnesses and injuries.
The final was 57-16, so take away the 30 forfeit points, and the two teams were closer than the final score indicated.
Three Buffs were victorious on the night.
Luke Zeller notched an 11-2 win at 160 pounds and Matt Brown, at 182, and Oscar Gomez, at 285, followed with pins to account for Greybull’s 16 points. Several other Buffs wrestled well in defeat.
Sanford mentioned three in particular: Jesus Burgos, who wrestles at 145; Cole Hill, at 152, and Spencer Redland, at 195.
Burgos “wrestled a tough match” before eventually going down 6-4, said Sanford.
Hill, a freshman who comes in with a solid USA and middle school mat background, “found out a little bit about high school wrestling,” said Sanford. “Most notably, that some of the stuff that he was able to do in junior high, he’s not going to be able to do in high school. So cleaning up the technique will be a big key for him.”
The showdown between Redland and Colby Wartman at 195 may have been the match of the night. Redland opened well, building a 5-1 lead. But it was Wartman who dominated the last half of the match, winning 12-7. Sanford said the match changed when Wartman got Redland in a headlock toward the end of the second period. Redland never overcame it, but Sanford believes the experience will make him a better wrestler.
Sanford also credited Herme Mendez and Anthony Eibert for their efforts in exhibition match losses, as well as Tanner Bernstein, who won by fall in his return to the mat, also in an exhibition match.
“Overall, we wrestled fairly well,” said Sanford. “A lot of times it just came down to making a key mistake here or there. Against a decent kid, those can cost you the match.”
The Buffs entered 12 wrestlers in the Powell Roundtable, which featured an opening round of pool wrestling followed by a bracketed tournament. Of those 12, however, just five went in the varsity division.
As usual, the meet was a tough one, as host Powell, a traditional 3A power, was joined in the field by one of its rivals, Worland, as well as a number of 4A squads, including Kelly Walsh, Natrona County and Gillette.
Powell won the tournament with 341 points, followed by Worland with 291, Natrona 210, Kelly Walsh 207 and Sheridan 171.5. Greybull-Riverside finished well back in 14th, with 58 team points. Lovell, with 103, and Thermopolis, with 76, were the only 2A teams that outranked the Buffs.
Zeller, Hill, Burgos, Redland and Edeler represented the Buffs in the varsity division.
Zeller was the only placer, capturing second at 160 pounds.
“Luke wrestled a really good tournament,” said Sanford. “As it went on, he just got better.”
Zeller won all four of his pool matches to earn a No. 1 seed for the bracketed tournament.
En route to the final, he beat two wrestlers he had beaten in the pool — and in each, he won even more convincingly.
In the final, Zeller fell to Fischer of Gillette by a 3-1 decision. Sanford described it as a matchup of two fundamentally sound mat technicians. Only one takedown was scored in the match — and it proved to be the difference.
Burgos, entered at 138, went 2-2 but was held out of the bracketed tournament due to an injury. One of the highlights for Burgos came in a loss, as he scored a takedown and was up 2-0 on the reigning 4A champ before eventually losing. His weekend also featured wins over wrestlers from Natrona and Gillette.
Hill also went 2-2 at 152.
Edeler, who didn’t wrestle in the dual against Lovell, made his debut at 220 in Powell. He finished 1-3 in pool wrestling, but hit some really tough competition, according to Sanford.
Redland bounced back with a nice effort at 195. He went 3-1 in the pools and in his tourney opener, he dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 decision to a wrestler from Sheridan. The match went to ultimate overtime — and Music, the wrester from Sheridan, went on to finish third.
“It was probably a match we should have won,” said Sanford.
Redland also wrestled well in his next match against a Kelly Walsh opponent, but lost it as well, 5-4, and was eliminated.
The Buffs entered seven wrestlers in the junior varsity division: Marshall Gibbs (120), Colton Davis (126), Tristian McMillan (138), Anthony Eibert (145), Matt Brown (182), Tanner Bernstein (195) and Oscar Gomez (heavyweight).
Gibbs “did a lot of things right,” said Sanford, noting that he went 2-2 in the pools before losing to the eventual champ in the opening round of the tournament.
Davis picked up a win, but lost three times and didn’t make the bracket.
McMillan “was in the same boat as Gibbs,” said Sanford. He went 2-2 in the pools and also lost his tourney opener to the eventual champ.
Eibert went 2-2 in the pools, won his tourney opener, but lost his second match, also to the eventual champion. Eibert went on to finish third, beating a kid in his final match who had pinned him earlier in the tournament.
Brown placed second at 182. He went 4-0 in the pools and won his first two tournament matches before losing in the final. Sanford said Brown is typically able to outmuscle opponents, but ran into a foe in the final who excelled in the areas of positioning and hip control.
Bernstein won his weight class, pinning all six of his opponents. “It’s good to have Tanner back on the mat,” said Sanford. “He’s a junior, and I put him down there (in JV) to do just what he did, which was to get a lot of mat time.”
Gomez closed it out with a fourth-place finish at heavyweight. He went 3-1 in the pools but lost in the semifinals — and then took an 8-6 loss on the chin in the third-place match, in which “his inxperience and frustration came out” in four points that were awarded to his opponent.
The Buffs will see some new faces this weekend when they venture north for the Matador Invitational in Forsyth, Mont. It will be a big tournament, said Sanford. There is no pool wrestling, nor is there a junior varsity division. Just straight brackets … “a lose two and you’re out,” type of tournament, he said.