Enjoying some home cooking during the 2A West Regional Wrestling Tournament hosted by Lovell High School Friday and Saturday, the Lovell Bulldogs put together one of their strongest performances of the season, finishing second in the 12-team field.
Cokeville topped the field with 188 points, but Lovell was a strong second with 147 points. Rounding out the top six were Greybull/Riverside with 135 points, Shoshoni 134.5 points, Thermopolis 107.5 points and Rocky Mountain with 75.
Lovell had eight placers by the time the mats were rolled up Saturday – three second-place finishers and five third-place winners. Two others scored points for the team.
“That’s exactly how you do it,” Coach Daniel Robertson said. “We got paid a very high compliment by the Greybull coaching staff, who I hold in really high regard. They said, ‘Your kids finish.’
“We do finish well. We finish pinning combinations, and in placing rounds we finish what we start. Now we just need to start before we finish and make it through the quarterfinals. It’s a young team thing.”
Robertson said winning in the quarterfinals is critical to a high tournament finish.
“If you win in the quarters, you are guaranteed to place,” he said. “The quarterfinals are a man-maker. That’s where championships are won and lost, the quarterfinals and consolation quarterfinals and semifinals.
Joey Mickelson, Joey Bassett and Zeke Collins placed second Saturday, while Trey Smith, Jaccob Mickelson, Merrill Beck, Hyrum Hopkin and Nash Jolley placed third.
Only first- through fourth-place medals were awarded Saturday. Here are the Lovell results by weight class:
106: Freshman Joe Murnion did not place but scored 4 team points. After a first-round bye, Murnion fell to eventual champion Keanan Pfisterer of Wind River by a pin in 1:06, then came back to pin Tayte Payne of Cokeville in 27 seconds. He was eliminated by John Thoman of Wind River by fall in 1:42. Thoman went on to place third.
113: After a first-round bye, freshman Joey Mickelson pinned Tia Hampton of Wind River in 3:27, then beat Luciano Castle of Thermopolis 12-9. Wrestling for the title, he fell to top-seeded Vinchinzo Castle 15-7.
“Joey looked really good,” Robertson said. “It was a pretty empty weight (going in), so it made sense for coaches to send all of their boys into that one.
“Joey wrestled incredibly well against Vinnie in the final match. The score was not indicative of how he wrestled. He gave up five points at the very end.”
120: Sophomore Joey Bassett pinned Kurt Leseberg of Dubois in 1:46 and pinned Justin Winkelman of Big Piney in 58 seconds. He edged Jayson Bowen of Cokeville 6-4 in overtime to reach the finals, where he fell to top-seeded Connor Wilkinson of Shoshoni 7-2 in a very competitive match.
“That was an important win over the Cokeville kid,” Robertson said. “It was very exciting. Connor is a good wrestler. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won it (at State).
“Joey is doing a good job. He’s ready for State, and he’s not in a bad spot (for seeding).”
126: Junior Trey Smith, following a bye, pinned Jason Nelson of Hanna-Elk Mountain-Medicine Bow (HEM) in 1:15, fell to second-seeded Danny Huxtable of Shoshoni 3-0, pinned Brock Baker of Dubois in 2:01 and pinned Michael Bowman of Rocky Mountain in 4:40 for third place.
“Trey wrestled really well against Huxtable,” Robertson said. “He was one technical step from being able to beat him. He should get some quality points this week (at State).”
Robertson said Smith has always been tough but now has more strength and endurance as a junior, adding, “He’s getting to be a better athlete, and he’s very coachable.”
132: Junior Jaccob Mickelson pinned Gavin Julander of Kemmerer in 1:04 and won by forfeit over Justin Smith of Rocky Mountain. He fell in the semifinals to eventual champion and top-ranked James Teichert of Cokeville on a pin in 4:38 but came back to pin Julander again in 22 seconds and Smith of Rocky Mountain in 59 seconds for third.
Robertson said Mickelson gave Teichert a battle in the semifinals and was surprised that Rocky’s Tyler Lindquist wasn’t waiting for him in the third-place match.
145: Sophomore Merrill Beck beat Dylan North of Rocky Mountain 9-1 and edged JD Jaeger of Shoshoni 6-4. He fell to top-ranked and eventual champion Zack Larson of Thermopolis in 3:49 but came back to beat North 3-0 and Tanner Commerer of Big Piney 5-1 for third.
“Merrill wrestled really well,” Robertson said. “The Commerer match was a rematch of an earlier match, and Merrill wrestled way, way better this time. He has a mean single-leg (move).”
152: Senior Hyrum Hopkin defeated Stetson Durand of Rocky Mountain 18-6 and pinned Gavin Miller of Cokeville in 1:52. He fell in the semifinals to Dylan Lookingbill of Wind River on a pin in 3:42 but came back to pin Adolfo Hernandez of Shoshoni in 54 seconds and beat Ellis Toomer of Cokeville 5-1 for third with a last-second reversal after trailing in the match.
160: Sophomore Jacob Winterholler fell to Ian Davidson of Rocky Mountain following a first-round bye, then came back to pin Anthony Eibert of Greybull/Riveride in 4:23. He fell to Choc Maddock of Thermopolis in 2:56.
160: Freshman Kyle Burton fell to eventual champion and top-ranked JJ Crichton of Shoshoni on a pin in 19 seconds, then fell to Maddock in 1:47.
182: Junior Zeke Collins received two byes, then pinned Justis Fisher of Big Piney in 1:18. He fell to top-seeded Jace Petersen of Cokeville in 1:48 in the finale.
“This was Zeke’s third time against Petersen, and he wrestled better this time,” Robertson said. “He had Petersen on his back. He had him dead to rights. But Petersen weaseled out of it.”
220: Junior Nash Jolley pinned Robert Logan of Rocky Mountain after a first-round bye, then fell to second-seeded Patrick Forster of Shoshoni in 1:27. He came back to pin Garrett Vezain of Rocky Mountain in 2:40 and crushed Sean Larson of Cokeville 11-4 to place third.
“Nash wrestled really, really well (against Larson),” Robertson said. “He hates the (protective) mask but wrestles better with it. He was very decisive, very dominant.”
285: Freshman heavyweight Jaret Collins fell to Wes Homewood of Rocky Mountain in 3:18 and fell to Galen LaGois of Shoshoni in 1:32.
The Bulldogs are off to the state wrestling tournament at the Casper Events Center this week. Action begins at 9 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday.
The Bulldogs should be in the mix for a trophy along with Cokeville and Moorcroft from the east.
by David Peck