Jan 31, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe state's biggest high school wrestling tournament starts Friday at Wolverine Gym inR00;Riverton.
Riverton High School enters the Ron Thon Invitational wrestling tournament with experience on its side.
The Wolverines are stacked with seniors this week preparing for their final Ron Thon tournament.
RHS officials are expecting 40 teams in town from the Class 4-A, 3-A and 2-A ranks.
The varsity division starts at 10 a.m. Friday at Wolverine Gym with early round matches. The junior varsity matches will be held at the Riverton Middle School.
The tournament has a double-elimination format. The quarterfinals will take place Friday night.
The semifinals will go at 9 a.m. Saturday. The championship finals are slated for around noon Saturday.
Ticket prices for two-day passes to the tournament are $15 for adults and $8 for students. Single-day passes for adults are $10, $5 for students. Saturday finals passes are $4 for adults and $3 for students.
"This is the most experienced crew that we have had at the Ron Thon in years," RHS coach Jay Galey said. "I think that our guys are up for it."
Riverton's top senior wresters are Ahren Wempen, Beau and Rudy Batista, T.J. Galey and Dawson Steeds.
The top junior for the Wolverines is Gavin Wilson.
"They are pretty focused," Galey said.
Wempen has a No. 2 ranking in Class 4-A at 132 pounds. He didn't wrestle Saturday during the conference duals with an injured knee, but he is expected to compete for a Ron Thon title.
The No. 1 wrestler in Wempen's weight class is Bryce Meredith from Cheyenne Central.
At 152 pounds, Beau Batista is ranked No. 2 in his class.
Rudy Batista sits at No. 4 in the 160-pound class.
"To get to the finals, it's one match at a time," Galey said. "That is all I want them guys to worry about."
T.J. Galey is ranked No. 4 in the 170-pound class.
"In a tournament like this, if you start to look ahead somebody is going to step up and beat you that shouldn't beat you," coach Galey said. "The places and finals will take care of yourself if we take one match at a time."
Steeds is No. 4 in the heavyweight position. Wilson has a No. 3 position at 120 pounds.
"The thing about the seniors is that I want them to go out and compete, but I don't want to put too much pressure on themselves," Galey said. "I want them to go out relaxed and have fun. They are good enough kids. If they do that, then I think that they will be happy with the end results."
The weekend of wrestling for Riverton started at 6 p.m. Thursday in a non-conference dual against Laramie at Wolverine Gym.
"We always look forward to the Ron Thon," Cokeville wrestling coach Martin Linford said. "It gives us a chance to see how we stack up against the big boys in the state."
Cokeville comes to the the Ron Thon as the No. 1 team in Class 2-A. Douglas sits in the top-ranked position in Class 3-A. Gillette has the No. 1 ranking in 4-A and Cheyenne East is No. 2. All the teams will be in Riverton.
'We have a handful of kids that are wrestling really well right now," Linford said. "We have had a number of finals in the past in the Ron Thon. We have never had any champions before. We sure would like to get a champion or two out of it."
Linford said Cokeville wrestlers James Teichert at 120 pounds, Brigham Teichert in the 138-pound class and Colter Linford at 160 pounds should be in position to go far into the Ron Thon.
James Teichert is a sophomore. The other two are seniors for the Panthers.
"The two seniors have placed before at the Ron Thon," coach Lindford said. "We want to see if we can get over the hump and get them into the finals."
James Teichert is ranked No. 1 in the finals at 120 pounds in 2-A. His brother, Brigham Teichert, stands No. 1 at 138 pounds. Linford is No. 3 in the 160-pound class.
Gillette won the Ron Thon team title last year with 221.5 points. Cheyenne Central captured the team championship in 2010.
Before Central's win, Gillette had won four straight team titles, starting in 2006.
Field for the Ron Thon Invitational
Big Piney, Buffalo, Gillette, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Cody, Cokeville, Douglas, Dubois, Evanston, Glenrock, Green River, Greybull/Riverside, Hulett, Jackson Hole, Kelly Walsh, Lander Valley High School, Lovell, Lyman, Moorcroft, Mountain View, Casper Natrona, Pinedale, Powell, Rawlins, Riverton, Rock Springs, Rocky Mountain, Sheridan, Shoshoni, Southeast, Star Valley, Thermopolis, Torrington, Wheatland, Wind River, Worland, Wright and Wyoming Indian.
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