Feb 7, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorElite, passion, gladiators and packed gym are five words that come to my mind when thinking about the Ron Thon Memorial Invitational.
This weekend draws the best Wyoming high school wrestlers the state has to offer.
The double-elimination tournament started Friday morning and continues into Saturday afternoon.
The emotions at Wolverine Gym are incredible during the Ron Thon. There are many highs and lows, depending on a wrestler's success.
This is a chance for a Class 2-A wrestler to knock off a Class 4-A opponent, and it's going to be fun to see how far Dubois senior wrestler Sterling Baker goes in the 220-pound bracket against the best of the big schools.
Baker has a state 2-A title to his resume, but he is missing a Ron Thon championship. Two weeks ago, Baker entered the Lander Invitational just to compete against mainly Class 3-A competitors. He did just fine, winning the 195-pound bracket.
Fremont County fans need to go watch Baker and see what he can do vs. the mighty 4-A schools.
Shoshoni coach Tony Truempler has his team rolling right along in the Class 2-A ranks.
He doesn't have any lofty expectations for Shoshoni this weekend in the team race, but he would love to see one of his wrestlers place in the top six in any weight class.
I'm thinking Shoshoni will get at least two placers and finish in the middle of the pack in the team standings.
You can never count out the Riverton Wolverines and the Lander Tigers.
RHS coach Jay Galey and Lander coach Nick Fulton will have their wrestlers mentally prepared for the tough weekend ahead.
The Wolverines had a good, solid victory over Laramie on Thursday night in a dual at Wolverine Gym.
Riverton seniors Tyler Allen, Chris Holcomb and Gavin Wilson know this is the last chance to shine in front of the home fans.
Lander has been solid in the lower weights all year, and I look for that to continue this weekend.
One of the best wrestlers in Class 3-A is Worland's Justin Lewton.
The senior has won three straight 3-A titles, but he has to be hungry to reach the top of the medal stand.
Class 4-A Cheyenne East's Tevis Bartlett had a super football season as a quarterback.
He comes into the Ron Thon as a heavy favorite to claim the 195-pound weight bracket. He won't face Baker, who is wrestling at 225 points at the Ron Thon.
Bartlett is just one of many of the elite athletes to be in Riverton this weekend.
When I was interviewing Riverton High School activities director Jeremy Hill earlier for our Ron Thon preview, I asked how the crowds at the wrestling tournament compare to the huge crowds of a Riverton-Lander basketball doubleheader or the Class 2-A West regional basketball tournament at Wolverine Gym.
He said the finals of the Ron Thon may be the biggest crowds other than Riverton High School graduation because of all the teams and fans in town for the tournament.
Give credit to the Riverton High School officials and many volunteers who make the Ron Thon the top tournament in the state.
And the best thing is that it's in our back yard.
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