Feb 2, 2012 - By Bruce Tippets Sports EditorDrew Leach has made the Ron Thon Invitational a focal point since the seventh grade.
Leach and Trevor Allen are the two Riverton High School seniors preparing to do battle Friday and Saturday for the final time at the 42-team Ron Thon Invitational.
"There are probably two or three state champions in each weight class, which is really tough," said Leach, who is set to wrestle in the 160-pound weight class for RHS.
Allen will be making his move at 152 pounds.
Leach placed second when he was a sophomore in the junior varsity division but didn't place last year in the top division.
Leach has been bothered by a hurt shoulder, but he still is ranked No. 7 in the 160-pound weight class statewide.
The Ron Thon tournament for the Wolverines begins on Friday morning.
The tournament will continue on Saturday. The semifinals come first thing Saturday morning, and the finals will finish early Saturday afternoon.
The varsity division will take place at Wolverine Gym, while the junior varsity matches are at nearby Riverton Middle School.
"We will see the very best in the state of Wyoming at the Ron Thon," LVHS coach Nick Fulton said. "We feel very good that some of our guys should be considered in that mix."
Ticket prices for the two-day tournament are $10 for adults and $5 for children. The two-day passes are $15 (adults) and $8 for adults.
"The intensity has to be as high as you can make it, or you are not going to survive," RHS coach Jay Galey said. "You can't go in and make a lot of mistakes, or you are going to get beat. In a lot of weight classes a lot of guys can win the whole thing."
The tournament is named in memory of the longtime Riverton school teacher, counselor, golf and wrestling coach who died of cancer.
"I think for the state it's just huge," Galey said. "I had a few of the coaches say this maybe the toughest Ron Thon that they have seen."
Gillette is the favorite to claim the team title, while Cheyenne East, Riverton, Green River, Natrona, Powell, Douglas and Lander Valley High School should all be in the mix.
"The team chase is interesting," Galey said. "I think there will be some teams that give Gillette everything they want."
RHS starts the weekend on Thursday at 6 p.m. with a non-conference dual against Laramie at Wolverine Gym.
In the varsity division, the Wolverines will go with Gavin Wilson at 113 pounds, Ahren Wempen and Dustin Manor are 126 pounds.
"You have to be the guy that is going to be attacking," Galey said. "You have to be the guy that is one tough individual."
Beau Batista and Tyler Allen will be in the 145-pound weight class, TJ Galey is slated at 170 pounds, Dylan Lewis and Jasper Gurr are in the 182-pound weight class, Jacob Flesher wrestles at 195 pounds, Lane Savage at 220 pounds, and Dawson Steeds at heavyweight.
"There are going to be some matches in the first round that might be a little lopsided," Galey said. "Every one after that is a dogfight."
In the individual rankings, Galey is ranked No. 2 in the 170 pound weight class.
Wempen, Lewis and Rudy Batista are all ranked No. 3 in their weight classes.
Hanson to defend
Lander Valley High School heavyweight Jordan Hanson has the opportunity to win his second straight title at the Ron Thon.
Hanson enters the double-elimination tournament with a 41-5 record.
The Tiger senior has lost three times to Utah wrestlers, once to a Montana wrestler and one time to Evanston's Ty Caladitto. Hanson is 1-1 on the season to Caladitto. Caladitto is ranked No. 1 Class 4-A, and Hanson is ranked No. 1 in Class 3-A.
Hanson has signed a national letter of intent to wrestle at the University of Wyoming next season.
The rest of the varsity lineup for the Tigers include Andrew Von Rein (106 pounds) Ty Alexander (113), Derek Debolt (126), Garrett Maser (145), Jacob Miller (152) and Brodie Schneider (220).
Teams slated for
Ron Thon Invite
Big Piney, Gillette, Casper Natrona, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Cody, Cokeville, Douglas, Dubois, Evanston, Glenrock, Green River, Greybull, Jackson, Kelly Walsh, Kemmerer, Lander Valley High School, Laramie, Lovell, Lyman, Moorcroft, Mountain View, Pinedale, Powell, Rawlins, Riverton, Rock Springs, Rocky Mountain, Saratoga, Sheridan, Shoshoni, Star Valley, Thermopolis, Torrington, Upton, Wheatland, Wind River, Worland, Wright and Wyoming Indian.
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