There’s always lots of room for improvement following the first wrestling tournament of the season, but for Lovell coach Daniel Robertson, the Bulldogs’ fifth-place finish at the Powell Invitational Friday and Saturday — a tournament filled with much larger schools — was a solid start to the season.
“The tournament was a little different than in years past,” Robertson said. “With the late start this year the tournament was up against a Rapid City tournament, so a couple of teams just sent their JVs. There was also a big tournament in Forsyth (Montana).
“We did as well or better than I anticipated. We’ve never had this many kids make it to the second day. That was pretty cool. We wrestled pretty darn well, especially considering the fact that we didn’t have enough practice days. We didn’t have time to get in the stuff we usually have for the first meet.”
Host Powell won the meet with 290 points followed by Lander with 226 points, Casper Natrona 213, Cody 203.5 and Lovell 152. Lovell finished ahead of Buffalo (130.5), Gillette, Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain, Thermopolis, Sheridan, Dubois, Greybull/Riverside, Worland, Wind River, Livingston, Mont., and Wyoming Indian.
Collins a champion
Senior Zeke Collins won the championship at 195 pounds, beating Aguallo of Gillette on a pin in 26 seconds, Goncalves of Worland in 4:04, Rusch of Rocky Mountain 18-0 and Easum of Powell in 3:29 to go 4-0 in pool wrestling. On Saturday he pinned Rusch in 2:56 and Goncalves of Worland again, this time in 2:45.
“He really wasn’t even tested,” Robertson said. “It will be interesting to see what happens later. Against Goncalves, he started getting ridden, then he just stopped and finished it. He picked bottom to start the second period, reversed him and put him on his back.”
“Little” brother Jaret Collins placed second at heavyweight (285) with a 5-1 record. The sophomore went 3-0 in pool wrestling, pinning Yager of Sheridan in 36 seconds, beating Lemmon of Cody 14-2 and pinning Stroud of Cody in 1:20. In Saturday’s bracket wrestling he pinned teammate RJ Davila in 37 seconds, then stuck Yager in 5:43. In the title match he fell to LaGois of Shoshoni on a pin in 2:59.
“Jaret started off really hot (in the tournament),” Robertson said. “He was much more aggressive than I’ve seen him before on his feet. He took the match to people. He had LaGois pinned for a long time (but didn’t get the call).”
Davila went 0-6 in his first tournament but gained a lot of experience, Robertson said.
“He got himself an education,” the coach said. “He got better in every match.”
Senior Nash Jolley placed fifth at 220 pounds. Jolley went 2-1 in pool wrestling, then 2-1 in the bracket Saturday for a 4-2 record. Friday, Jolley was pinned by eventual champion Taylor of Gillette in 2:25 but rallied to pin Vezain of Rocky Mountain in 1:28 and beat Tigner of Worland 7-3. Saturday, he lost to Vezain on a pin in 3:58, pinned Rico of Buffalo in 3:42 and stuck Tigner in 1:20 for fifth place.
“He lost Saturday then remembered he’s Nash Jolley and won two matches,” Robertson said. “He should have placed differently, but it’s early. He’s got to work out some of the little bugs you always have to work out.”
Three place fourth
Lovell had three fourth-place finishers in Powell.
Senior Jaccob Mickelson went 3-1 in pool wrestling at 132 pounds after a first-round loss to eventual champion Karst of Powell, picking up three pins in the process. He beat Elmlinger of Buffalo 10-0 in the bracket tournament Saturday, then fell to Reiner of Buffalo and Carey of Lander to place fourth.
“Karst is nasty and tough. That was a tough opener,” Robertson said. “We’ve got some work to with with Jaccob on defense.”
Wrestling way up in weight was junior Joey Bassett, who placed fourth at 145 pounds, Robertson said.
Bassett went 3-1 in pool wrestling Friday, then pinned Jaeger of Shoshoni in the first round Saturday. He fell to Beaudrie of Cody and Skogen of Natrona County to place fourth.
“Joey wrestled up a weight or two from where he’ll end up,” Robertson said. “He volunteered to go to 145. This week we’ll have a wrestle-off.
“It’s just a strong year at 145. But Joey goes out and fights. It’s obvious how outmatched we (as a team) are physically. The new weight room is step one in being able to compete.”
Junior Merrill Beck wrestled to a 3-1 record Friday, then beat Brenton of Natrona County 12-6 Saturday before falling to VonRein of Lander and Hill of Greybull/Riverside to place fourth.
“We need to work on defense, especially leg riding,” Robertson said. “A good leg rider is hard to beat.”
Freshman Jared Wilkerson went 0-4 at 113 pounds, seeing his first action. Robertson said it was unfortunate that the 113 weight class had to all be varsity competition due to low numbers and that Wilkerson would have benefited from wrestling junior varsity.
“It was a rough go. His learning curve is really steep,” Robertson said. “But he did well. He earned an escape – and he earned it – from a defending state champion (Pfisterer of Wind River).”
Wilkerson will eventually move to 106 pounds.
Sophomore Joe Murnion made it to the second day at Powell but went 0-6 overall at 120 pounds.
“He dropped a few that he probably shouldn’t have, but he was wrestling outside of his weight class due to weight management rules. He’s really a ’13 pounder.”
Senior Trey Smith went 1-3 in pool wrestling at 126 pounds, but two of the matches were close, hard-fought matches. He went 0-2 in the bracket Saturday.
“He does stuff well and you don’t know he’s losing until you look at the scoreboard,” Robertson said. “He lost two matches in the closing seconds. He wrestled well. Every year it’s the same deal. He starts off finding himself then gets it figured out again.”
Sophomore Joey Mickelson went 1-3 in pool wrestling at 138 pounds, then 0-2 in the bracket, though he was competitive in several matches.
“He’s going to have to adjust to the violence of 138 pounds,” Robertson said. “They’re going to be more physical. Bradshaw (eventual champion) is brutal.”
Senior Rego Moreno went 0-4 in pool wrestling Friday and did not advance.
“He’s got to add to his tool bag,” Robertson said. “He has about three things he does well, but he needs to expand his skill set to be more competitive.”
Junior Kenneth Powell battled to a 2-2 record in pool wrestling Friday, then went 0-2 in the bracket Saturday at 182 pounds.
“He did pretty well,” Powell said. “I’m still trying to learn how to coach him. We’re still incorporating styles he learned out of state (Idaho).”
By David Peck