Feb 27, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe grueling season for Fremont County wrestlers wraps up Friday and Saturday at the state high school tournament in Casper.
The Riverton Wolverines, Lander Tigers, Shoshoni Wranglers, Wind River Cougars, Dubois Rams and Wyoming Indian Chiefs all have qualified wrestlers for the double-elimination tournament.
The first-round matches are from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Casper Events Center.
"This is a time that the kids look forward to," RHS coach Jay Galey said. "They know their whole season is about what happens this weekend. If you can't get excited, then you probably need to find something else to do."
The semifinals are set to start at 7p.m. Friday.
The tournament will conclude Saturday with the championship finals at 7 p.m.
"We are pretty young this year," Galey said. "The expectations from around the state are not very high. It puts us in a nice spot to go down there and try to upset some people and finish the season as strong as we can."
Riverton's Chris Holcomb has the best seed entering the tournament at No. 2 in the 195-pound division.
Koa Rodriguez (160), Reece Prosser (170) and Joey Ladd (113) are all seeded in the No. 3 position in their respective weight classes.
Tyler Allen is No. 4 at 152 pounds.
"We have some guys in some positions who can take care of business in the first and second rounds and then can go a long ways," Galey said. "We have talked about not just rolling over if somebody puts some pressure on you."
Galey has faith that two unseeded wrestlers, Gavin Wilson and T.J. Turner, should get some wins at state.
Turner has a Green River wrestler in the opening round at 145. "That would be a big step for Turner to go out and beat him," Galey said. "If that happens, then I won't be surprised."
Wilson has been bothered by an injured shoulder, but he will be in the state lineup at 120 pounds.
"Gavin is a great wrestler," Galey said. "I feel terrible for him. The thing that I like is that he has done a nice job of handling it. It has not been easy for him. I really feel like he is one of the best wrestlers in the state."
Gillette and Green River are the heavy favorites to battle it out for the state 4-A title.
The lone individual regional title for the Tigers came from Dillon Weil in the 132-pound division.
Weil had a 4-0 record at the 3-A West regional tournament in Star Valley High School last weekend.
"Dillon had a breakout tournament," Lander coach Nick Fulton said.
"He has been working very hard all year, and he improved every week. At regionals, he dominated in all of his matches."
Placing in the runner-up positions were Kyle Carey (120), Palmer Schafer (106), Andrew Von Rein (138) and Kegan Wells (heavyweight).
"We practice all year for this week," Fulton said. "Kids need to be focused and be on top of their game for two days.
"I have high expectations for my athletes, as they do for themselves, for their performances this weekend."
The Wranglers come into the state tournament with a mind set of placing high in the team standings.
The leading team favorites in the Class 2-A ranks are Moorcroft, Cokeville and the Wranglers.
Moorcroft has been the best squad from the East conference all season.
Cokeville is fresh off winning the Class 2-A West conference title, where SHS placed fourth.
Taking No. 1 seeds from the county in Class 2-A are Shoshoni's tandem of Connor Wilkinson at 120 pounds and J.J. Crichton in the 160-pound division.
Wind River's Keanan Pfisterer is No. 1 at 106 pounds.
Sterling Baker of Dubois is the odds-on favorite to win the 195-pound division.
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