Dec 6, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorA strong junior class headlines the Lander Valley High School Tigers wrestling team this year.
Coach Nick Fulton is putting his Tigers through early-morning practices and after-school workouts for the grueling season ahead.
The Tigers have completed two weeks of practice.
"We have a fairly young team," Fulton said. "We have some guys that are new to wrestling and guys who are second-year guys."
The Tigers open the season Friday and Saturday in Powell.
"We will see where we sit with our older guys after this weekend," Fulton said. "Those young guys have made jumps in the first two weeks."
Lander heavyweight Kegan Wells is the only senior out for the team.
"We are putting a lot of load on Kegan's shoulders," Fulton said.
Wells has started for the past two years for the Tigers.
"He is as athletic a heavyweight as we have out there," Fulton said. "We have really high hopes for Kegan this year."
Fulton won't have any trouble finding wrestlers fill in the lower and middle weights.
"A lot of our numbers are from 106 pounds to 152 pounds," Fulton said.
As the season progresses, the Tigers will have to spread out their wrestlers across the weight classes.
"We will really have to have some guys emerge and wrestle up a little bit," Fulton said.
The three returning medalists for the Tigers are Andrew Von Rein, Ben McKinney and Kyle Carey.
Von Rein was a state champion as a freshman and placed third in the state as a sophomore.
Fulton is expecting Von Rein to wrestle at 138 pounds in the season-opening tournament.
McKinney was fourth at 113 pounds as a sophomore.
"He wrestled all over for us last year," Fulton said. "He was from 132 pounds to 113 pounds. He wrestled a lot of different weights."
Fulton said Carey had an amazing state tournament after getting fourth in the state.
"Kyle wrestled a lot this summer," Fulton said."We look for those three medalist to kind of be the core."
The juniors have some varsity experience.
"The junior class can kind of fill in some gaps for us," Fulton said.
"And I'm pretty excited about some of these freshman. They have fantastic attitude.
"If we can keep those three classes together, then we can expect some success in the future. We just have to get better every week."
Early rounds start on Friday morning at the Powell tournament.
The championship rounds are slated for Saturday afternoon.
"You will end up some with some weights in Powell that are very tough," Fulton said.
Powell and Worland are the early title contenders in Class 3-A.
Casper Natrona, Casper Kelly Walsh and Sheridan are Class 4-A teams in the field this weekend.
"We are excited to see how the kids do," Fulton said.
After the Powell tournament, the Tigers will compete in a dual on Thursday, Dec. 12, in Jackson.
The Brave Brawl tournament is Dec. 13-14 in Star Valley.
"That is usually a pretty good dual tournament for us," Fulton said.
Lander wrestles Worland on Thursday, Dec. 19, in a road dual.
"They are pretty high on Worland this year," Fulton said. "They have a lot of seniors this year."
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