The Lovell Bulldogs placed a strong third place at the State Wrestling Tournament over the weekend in Casper, and while that placing is one step below their finish of a year ago, the silver lining, well, maybe the gold lining, is that the Bulldogs brought home three individual champions.
Seniors Nathan Grant, Jacob Beck and Dino Collins tore through their respective brackets to win titles at 160, 170 and 182 pounds, respectively. Senior Jacob Asay placed third at heavyweight, sophomore Jaccob Mickelson fourth at 120 and junior Hyrum Hopkin sixth at 145.
As a team the Bulldogs placed third with 147.5 points. Moorcroft/Hulett won the title with 263 points, followed by Cokeville with 170. Greybull/Riverside was fourth with 126.5 points, Shoshoni fifth with 95 points and Wright sixth with 85.
“We did pretty well,” Coach Daniel Robertson said. “We did exactly as well as we were supposed to. I’ve wanted to worry about things individually. It’s a team sport, but wrestling is about the individual. That’s how I view it.
“Last year it seemed like the season was shot when we finished second, but that’s so wrong.”
Collins perfect again
Dino Collins went 4-0 at 182 pounds to win the state title for the second consecutive year. In fact, he completed his second straight undefeated season, the only Wyoming wrestler to do that, going 33-0 last year and 39-0 this season for a two-year record of 72-0.
Collins pinned Dustin Grande of Moorcroft in 22 seconds and Zane Hladky of Lusk in 37 seconds to reach the semifinals. He then met eventual third-place finisher Wyatt Somsen of Southeast and pinned the junior in 3:48.
Robertson said the rumor around the mats was that Somsen moved down a weight class to “avenge” Collins’ win over Cheyenne East’s Tevis Bartlett – Bartlett’s only loss of the season – apparently being a friend of Bartlett’s.
“The kid actually gave him a little bit of a run and reversed him a couple of times,” Robertson said. “Dino had to adapt.”
In the finals Collins met 36-10 Tel West of Moorcroft and had no trouble. He put the junior in a cradle and pinned him in 1:36.
Robertson said Collins leaves “quite an impressive legacy” as he ends his career.
“He’s so good, but he’s receptive to coaching,” the coach said. “If there’s a kid who doesn’t need to listen to anybody it’s Dino, but he does.”
Nathan Grant ran his season record to 46-3 with a 4-0 run at the state tournament to win the 160-pound title. Grant made quick work of Wright’s Hunter Quick, pinning him in 22 seconds, then pinned 34-16 Julian Preston of Southeast in 5:28. He dominated Brad Wagner of Moorcroft with a 46-second pin, setting of the finale against his old rival, Greybull/Riverside’s Luke Zeller. Grant pinned Zeller in 5:49, capping an outstanding season and tournament.
“Nathan was on a mission,” Robertson said. “He was not about to be denied. He only got in trouble once the whole tournament. He was very dominant.
“Against Zeller he never even looked like he was going to get taken down. I was never worried.”
It was Grant’s first title after finishing third last year.
“I had no doubt he was going to win,” Robertson said. “I never had to say anything when he came off the mat. He did everything right. He looked so good.”
Beck beats nemesis
Senior Jacob Beck finished the year 39-3 after his 4-0 run at State to win the championship at 170 pounds. He pinned Tommy Bernstein of Greybull/Riverside in 55 seconds, pinned Johnathan Burrows of Thermopolis in 1:44 and defeated 38-11 senior Dakota Ray of Moorcroft 10-4. He met his nemesis, Cokeville senior Colter Linford, 47-8, for the title and beat Linford 10-7.
“That match was kind of scary,” Robertson said. “I was never too incredibly worried except once, when Jacob got out of position and got rolled through and onto his back. He fought off of it, but Linford is scary because he’s really long and his style is opposite of Jacob’s.”
Robertson said the match was a battle of wills.
“Linford does a lot of reversals and rolls through with his hips so well,” he said. “Jacob is a grinder. He just overpowers you. He stays in good position and overpowers you. He scores a little bit at a time. The other kid scores points in big chunks. You can’t get behind a kid like that. Jacob scores his points two at a time, but he stayed ahead of him.”
Beck works extremely hard, Robertson noted.
“He’s earned everything he got,” he said.
Lovell Athletic Director Joe Koritnik said his research indicates that Beck and Grant are the 38th and 39th individuals to win state wrestling championships in Lovell school history since 1974 when Wyoming High School Activities Association archives begin. (Collins won last year, as well.)
The final member of Lovell’s senior fearsome foursome is heavyweight Jacob Asay, who placed third with a 3-1 record, finishing the season 28-16.
“He did a great job,” Robertson said. “He looked so good. In the semifinal match he actually wrestled Allison as tough as he ever has. He went out to beat him.”
“He set our heavyweight tech record with one,” Robertson chuckled. “Heavyweights don’t tech people (win by a technical fall). That’s not supposed to happen.”
After a first-round bye, Asay crushed David Baker of Southeast via the aforementioned technical fall, 16-0, and was then pinned by eventual champion Tanner Allison, 44-3, in 40 seconds. He came back to pin Galen LaGois of Shoshoni in 47 seconds, then pinned Charles Oldman of Wind River in 4:42 to place third.
“He was agile and hostile,” Robertson said. “He was ready to go. I was pleased. Against Allison he got a takedown but got reversed to his back.
“Oldman did a good job not getting pinned. Jacob did really, really well. He’s come so far.”
Sophomore Jaccob Mickelson placed fourth at 120 pounds, going 3-2 to finish the season 27-23.
Mickelson pinned Andy Heffner of Big Piney in 3:53 and crushed Hunter Mason of Saratoga 15-6 to reach the semifinals. He fell to eventual champion Ryan Bradshaw 19-2, then edged Colt Larson of Cokeville in overtime, 10-8. He fell to senior Kenny Sisson of Moorcroft in the third-place match, 7-2.
“Jaccob wrestled incredibly well,” Robertson said. “His quarterfinal match was really good, and his win over Larson, I was excited about. Larson’s a ripped kid. All Cokeville kids are good.
“Jaccob was pretty focused. He just kind of assumed he got to medal this year. There wasn’t even a question. He wrestled so well. He stepped up. He got under those lights and wrestled better than he ever has.”
Junior Hyrum Hopkin wrestled to a 3-3 record and a sixth-place finish at 145 pounds. He pinned Dylan Kelly of Burns/Pine Bluffs in 1:09, fell to Wyatt Hageman of Lingle-Ft. Laramie 13-0, rebounded to pin Caleb Sipe of Thermopolis in 50 seconds and Chase Cushman of Southeast in 2:46 to reach placing rounds. He fell to Cole Hill of Greybull/Riverside 17-2 and Alex Ferguson of Wright 7-3 to finish sixth.
“Hyrum had a real good season. I was glad to see him medal,” Robertson said. “He’s good.”
Hopkin finished the season 30-22 and will be a senior leader next season.
Three Bulldogs won at least one match at State. Freshman Joey Bassett went 2-2 at 126 pounds. He pinned Chris Kimzey of Big Piney in 2:52, was pinned by Tyrell Lawrence of Moorcroft in 21 seconds, pinned Ryan Peoples of G/R in 4:17 and was pinned by Sundance senior Trent Bush in 2:16.
“Joey was one match out of placing,” Robertson said. “He ran into a full-grown man in Bush. The kid has muscles growing out of his muscles.”
Sophomore Trey Smith went 1-2 at 113 pounds. After a bye, he fell to Tyler Pohlman of Burns/Pine Bluffs in 3:37, pinned Eric MacDonald of B/PB in 1:46 and was pinned by Nathan Martinez of Wright in 2:26.
“Trey was one match out (of placing),” Robertson said. “That broke my heart that he didn’t get a medal. I feel bad. Trey wrestled so much better than it looks. He wrestled really well.”
Sophomore Nash Jolley went 1-2 at 195. He fought hard before falling to Greybull/Riverside’s Spencer Redland in 5:24, came back to pin Sean Larson of Cokeville in 3:53 and fell to Clayton Svalina of Moorcroft 9-7.
“Nash had Spencer Redland all but pinned,” Robertson said. “He took it to Redland. He wrestled pretty dang good, and he barely loses to Svalina.. That was an exciting one. It was tragic.”
Both freshman Merrill Beck and sophomore Richard Walker went 0-2 at 132 and 138, respectively.
“I’m excited those two got to come – get under the lights and feel it,” Robertson said. “They wrestled like they belong there.”
By David Peck