Wrestlers take fourth at state
February 28, 2019
When the Western Regional champion Bobcats headed to Casper for the state tournament Thursday, it was in a procession of several service vehicles with warning sirens sounding the pride of the Thermopolis community added to by nearly twenty more individual vehicles augmenting that sound with their own horns.
When action concluded on Friday, the Bobcats with a winning record of 29-12 in individual matches had qualified eleven wrestlers to see action on Saturday, five in the winners bracket and six in the consolation bracket; the Bobcats were still in the hunt for one of the top two places in class 2A. Saturday morning told the story of the tournament. Moorcroft and Kemmerer had separated themselves from the rest of the 2A field, Moorcroft through its depth and Kemmerer through the four top wrestlers that would eventually be state champions.
That left Glenrock, Cokeville and Thermopolis to battle it out for the next three positions with trophies for the two of three that finished the highest. The top four finishers: Moorcroft (195), Kemmerer (181) Glenrock (155) and Thermopolis (146), earned the trophies. Only the 2008 edition of Thermopolis wrestling finished higher in the state tournament, but had fewer contributors to that outcome.
The list of Bobcat wrestlers earning place and points at the state tournament follows: Logan Cole (1st, 26 team points), Remington Ferree (2nd, 20), Wyatt McDermott (second, 20), Austin Ireland (third place, 20), Riley Shaffer (fourth, 17), Jeff VanAntwerp (fifth, 15), Blake Williams (sixth, 11), Jon Harvey (7), Chance Watt (5), Jon Hagen (3) and Cole Christianson (2).
As with all tournaments, there were highs and lows, but with this Bobcat team, the highs were in a great majority starting with Ireland's comeback from a narrow 8-6 loss to capture third place and finish a career that started as a two-win season when he was a freshman.
As a freshman starting his high school career, McDermott, for the second week in a row wrestled his best match of the season winning in the last few seconds again with the last ounce of energy he could muster over Shoshoni's James Knigge in the semifinals, 7-5.
Senior VanAtwerp realized a long- time goal of placing in the state tournament by scoring three pins, including the last match of his high school career, on his way to a fifth-place finish.
Shaffer lost to one of the best wrestlers in the state, Cokeville's Brayden Johnson, and then came-back to wrestle for third or fourth losing in a match much closer than the score, 9-4, to Big Piney's Justin Seeman.
Cole breezed through the tournament with a bye and two pins to meet up with Wright's Phoenix Buske who had defeated Cole earlier in the year. The Bobcat was cruising along with a 5-2 lead when a strong move by the Wright wrestler reversed him to his back for a 6-5 lead going into the last period. Unable to tilt Buske, Cole released him giving up a point to trail 7-5, but with less than 15 seconds left in the match, Cole scored a takedown to tie the score and send the match into overtime.
Quickly shooting for a takedown and sudden victory, Cole appeared to have scored the winning two points. After a lengthy discussion the two officials in charge of the match decided that the move had caused a dangerous condition off the mat and disallowed the points. Upon the restart, Cole once again shot a take down for what appeared again to end the match, but again it was ruled to take place out of bounds before control was established. Finally, on the third restart, there was no discussion as Cole completed a clear in-bounds takedown of his opponent for the tournament championship.
The boys' strong finish at the state tournament wasn't the only cause for celebration this weekend, as Cole, Ferree and McDermott were selected by the Wyoming Coaches Association as 2019 All-State in wrestling.
Coach Travis McDermott expressed some disappointment about not breaking into the top three, but added, "I am encouraged about what this team has done for the program." McDermott had positive comments about the individual accomplishments, but was particularly pleased that newly crowned state champion Logan Cole had "...engaged with his heart" as well as his physical abilities to gain the championship.
Not resting on the laurels of this season, McDermott is already planning the program for 2019-20, and looking forward to the challenges a new team will face.