The Lovell Bulldogs wrestling squad concluded the 2017-18 season with successful performances at the Class 2A State Wrestling Tournament Friday-Saturday in Casper including a state championship by sophomore Coy Trainor.
Lovell placed seventh in the 21-team 2A field with 113 points, five points behind Southeast and 13 points ahead of Wright.
After placing second last year at State in 195 pounds, Trainor broke through this season and won the state title at 220 pounds. Trainor pinned Jessy Valentine in the first round in 1:02, Peyton Morris of Moorcroft in the quarterfinals in 1:22, Steven Monson of Wright in the semifinals in 1:23 and Luke Sullivan of Sundance in the championship match in 3:51. Trainor finished the season 40-8.
“It’s always impressive to have an athlete make it to the finals in back-to-back years, especially as a freshman and sophomore,” coach Nick DeWitt said. “We came up just short last year so it was really nice to see him bring home the gold in dominating fashion.
“He’s had the mindset of a champion since the first day of practice his freshman year. The growth and progression that I saw in him gave me the belief that there wasn’t anybody that should have been able to stop him.”
Sophomore Quinton Hecker took second at 113 pounds. Hecker stuck his teammate, Kyler Marchant, in the first round in 41 seconds and beat Mica Herrera of Moorcroft 7-1 in the quarterfinals. Hecker then beat Preston Seamands of Wright 6-3 in the semifinals before falling to Tate Stoddard of Glenrock in the championship match in 2:22.
“Quinton had another outstanding state tournament,” DeWitt said. “He moved up a place from last year. He dominated kids in his bracket this year that he sometimes struggled with last year.”
Junior Alex Nicholson placed third at 120 pounds. Nicholson pinned Zach Cudney of Burns/Pine Bluffs in the first round in 4:44 and Dustin Simmons of Glenrock in the quarterfinals in 5:22 before falling to eventual state champion Dawson Schramm of Kemmerer in the semifinals in 1:21. Nicholson bounced back from the loss in dominating fashion by crushing Jaxon King of Saratoga 15-0 in the consolation semifinals and James Knigge of Shoshoni 17-1 in the third-place match.
“Alex, like all of our other guys, showed maturity over the last year,” DeWitt said. “After meeting the eventual state champion in the semifinals, he came back with determination and dominated his next two opponents that were ranked in the top six.”
Freshman Cardon Mickelson took fifth at 106 pounds. Mickelson stuck Tyzer Isenberger in the first round in 3:56 before falling to Greg Logsdon of Southeast in the quarterfinals in 1:21. Mickelson then beat Arie Kranendonk of Big Piney in the consolation second round in 48 seconds and James Cushman of Niobrara County in 2:10 before falling to Deonte Taylor of Hulett in the consolation semifinals in 2:07. Mickelson then defeated Sean Buckmiller of Moorcroft in the fifth-place match in 2:57.
Freshman Asher Nicholson placed sixth at 126 pounds. Nicholson pinned Robbie Marta of H.E.M. in the first round in 1:02 and fell to Dax Yeradi of Wright in the quarterfinals in 3:58. Like Mickelson, Nicholson battled his way back to the placing rounds by sticking Braxton Varela of Big Piney in 35 seconds and Gaven Niles of Lingle-Ft. Laramie in 2:46 before falling to Tonka Lytle of Rocky Mountain in the consolation semifinals in 2:53. Nicholson then fell to Hunter Garoutte of Moorcroft 9-7 in the fifth-place match.
“Those two freshmen showed up to their first high school state tournament and excelled,” DeWitt said. “I think some of that credit should go to their experience from USA Wrestling where they were able to get experience and better accustomed to large scale tournaments.”
Junior Jack Steed placed sixth at 145 pounds. Steed stuck Brady Johnson of Big Piney in the first round in 4:15 and fell to Zane Moore of Glenrock 15-5 in the quarterfinals. Like Mickelson and Nicholson, Steed fought hard in the consolation bracket by beating Syler Fleck of Glenrock 4-0 and Tate Kelly 8-2 before falling to Josh Thatcher 4-2 in the consolation semifinals. Steed then fell to Garrett Strohschein of Wright 11-5 in the fifth-place match.
“Jack came on this year with a completely different attitude and was determined to see success,” DeWitt said. “He had a couple of close matches that could have gone either way. Unfortunately, we were unable to come out on top in those.”
Junior Kerry Powell went 2-2 at 182 pounds, beating Logan Husted of Moorcroft 11-9 in the first round and Ethan Zancanella of Wright 7-1 in the consolation second round for his two wins.
Other Bulldog wrestlers that competed at State were senior Logan Nunn at 145 pounds, Junior Kelly Powell at 195 pounds and freshman Kyler Marchant at 113 pounds.
“Overall, it was a giant improvement between the two years,” DeWitt said.
The state wrestling tournament was the last contest for Nunn.
“Logan was our lone senior on our team that made it to State,” DeWitt said. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get a win, but his determination in every match showed there was no quit in him. Logan is going to be a big loss to our team next year. His attitude and work ethic in the practice room is an attribute that I wish I could instill in my wrestlers.”
DeWitt gave thanks to the Lovell community for their support at State.
“We want to thank all the help and support from the businesses, community members, family and friends through the entire year,” DeWitt said. “Without them behind us, it would have made it much more difficult to gain the success we were able to.”
Going into the off-season, the Lovell wrestlers will now participate in a Wyoming Amateur Wresting Association Junior State Tournament this Saturday and Sunday in Moorcroft.
“The idea in the off-season is to continue to keep our wrestling family together and to grow in numbers,” DeWitt said. “We also want to get as much mat time as we can, whether that is additional tournaments, open mats and camps.”
By Sam Smith