They may not be as deep as last year’s squad, but the Lovell Bulldogs wrestling team still has some formidable firepower, which they showed off at the Powell Roundtable Invitational Friday and Saturday in Powell.
The wrestlers were divided into varsity and junior varsity divisions and competed in round robin wrestling Friday, which allowed officials to seed them into a bracketed tournament Saturday, coach Daniel Robertson said.
Lovell produced two champions and one additional placer at the large tournament as seniors Jacob Beck and Dino Collins captured individual titles and Jacob Asay placed fourth.
Beck won it all at 170 pounds, going 3-0 on the final day. He started with a pin in 1:33 over Skyler Landerman of Cody, pinned Tyler Patterson of Powell in 1:30 and beat Brecken Biggs of Casper Natrona 5-1 for the championship.
“We discovered some things we can do on the mat to neutralize an opponent,” Robertson said. “We were testing out a new ride that will pay dividends, a cross-body ride. At this point teams didn’t have an answer.
“Jacob wrestled really smart. He’s working hard to fine tune some things that got him into trouble in the past.”
Beck beat the number two (Patterson) and number three (Landerman) wrestlers in Class 3A and the number two wrestler in Class 4A (Biggs) on Saturday.
Collins dominated the competition at 182 pounds, pinning most of his opponents over the weekend. On Saturday he pinned Jackson of Columbus, Mont., in 37 seconds, beat Thomas Myler of Casper Natrona (third ranked in 4A) 12-2 and defeated Sterling Baker of Dubois 6-1 for the title.
“We wrestled him (Baker) seven times last year,” Robertson said. “This was the eighth time in two years. Everywhere they go, they meet. They are the two best 182-pounders in the state.”
Asay beat Smith of Rawlins 7-0 to start Saturday action, then fell in 30 seconds to eventual champion Yates of Colstrip, a defending Montana state champion. In the third/fourth-place match he fell to Stringer of Powell, 5-3.
“I hope this is Jacob’s coming-out party,” Robertson said. “He’s gotten out of a double tie that heavyweights seem to be fond of. It’s completely neutral and there’s nothing you can do from there. This puts him in a better position to defend himself, and now he’s attacking, too. It’s so important to take the initiative and score points, take advantage of opportunities.”
Lovell’s other senior, Nathan Grant, had to withdraw after Friday’s action with a back injury, Robertson said.
“We didn’t wrestle incredibly well,” he said. “We finished eighth in varsity and were open at 106, 113, 126, 138 – and Nathan was hurt. We’re still learning stuff we need to work on, especially the JV kids. We have a lot of JV kids with up side. They just need experience. They’re now finding out what wrestling is about. Drilling with your friends is a lot different than wrestling someone who doesn’t like you.”
Host Powell won the tournament with 341 points, followed by Worland with 291, Natrona with 210 and Casper Kelly Walsh with 207 points. Lovell was the top 2A team with 103 points.
The Bulldogs will be off to Shoshoni this Saturday for the Wrangler Duals – a series of dual matches against mostly Class 2A teams. Extra wrestlers will have the opportunity to fill holes in other teams’ lineups, Robertson said.
Action begins at 9 a.m.
By David Peck