Wrestlers roar into winter season

Sandy Wanfalt photo The Lady Wranglers wrestling team secured its first win at the Evanston Invitational on Dec. 9. Pictured, from left, are Katyana Dexter, Sarah Helm, Rhonda Auradou, Maddox Gehlhausen, Morgan Grossman, McKinzie Mortensen, Alexis Thompson, Malari Craig and Mya Swain.

EVANSTON – The Pinedale High School boys’ and girls’ wrestling teams attacked the opening week of competition with grit and zeal.

The Lady Wranglers blazed a trail at the Evanston Invitational on Friday, Dec. 9, winning gold in their first competition as a team, tallying 69 points across nine brackets. The boys’ team beat nine schools from Wyoming and Utah to earn second place with 151 points.

On Saturday, Dec. 10, the combined varsity wrestling team battled Duschesne, Utah, and the host school at the Evanston Duels. Pinedale defeated Duchesne, Utah, 48-30, before falling to Evanston, 55-21.

Trouncing each of his opponents over the weekend, junior Jake Hammer earned the Outstanding Varsity Wrestler Award for both the Evanston Invitational and Duels.

Evanston Invitational – girls’ team

Senior Rhonda Auradou scooped up first place in the 115-120-pound bracket. Auradou pinned Sidney Liechty of Evanston 1 minute, 42 seconds into the match to take on teammate and senior Maddox Gehlhausen in the finals.

Advancing through the 115-120-pound division, Gehlhausen defeated Big Piney’s Catie Langlois and Liechty before falling to Auradou to secure silver.

Junior Katyana Dexter picked up first place in the 285-pound weight bracket. She beat Ryleigh Cole of Lyman only 24 seconds into the first period of the semifinal round and went on to pin Evanston’s Aaliyah Martin 50 seconds into the finals.

In the 100-105-pound division, freshman McKinzie Mortensen snagged gold. Pinning Braxton Burgener of Lyman 1:49 into the first period of the semifinals, Mortensen advanced to the final round where she defeated Vanessa Gonzales by fall at 31 seconds.

Sophomore Mya Swain took second place after pinning Lyman’s Clara France with 15 seconds to spare in the first period of the semifinals.

Senior Morgan Grossman, sophomore Sarah Helm and freshman Malari Craig each picked up bronze in their respective brackets. Sophomore Alexis Thompson placed fourth in the 125-pound bracket.

Evanston Invitational – boys’ team

Hammer captured gold in the 132-pound bracket. He pinned Rock Springs’ Axel Householder in the second period of the quarterfinals and defeated Ty Hawkes of Bear River, Utah, by fall in the third period of the semifinals.

Advancing to the championship round, Hammer made quick work of Jackson Hole’s Logan Ward, pinning his opponent 24 seconds into the bout.

Senior Ethan Kemp won the championship in the 145-pound division. Pinning Bear River’s Zeb Mitchell 1:25 into the quarterfinals, Kemp went on to defeat Riley Kohler of Evanston by a 10-6 decision.

In the finals, Kemp grappled teammate and junior Dustin Larsen through three close periods before securing the win by a 13-3 major decision.

Larsen took down Quincy Gerber of Spring Creek, Utah, in the second period of the quarterfinals. Proceeding to the semifinals, Larsen pinned Evanston’s Gideon Stahl 56 seconds into the match to lock in second place in the 145-pound division.

Sophomore Ryan Nutt achieved gold in the 120-pound bracket. He beat Evanston’s Luke Benton by fall with 6 seconds remaining in the first period of the quarterfinals.

Progressing to the semifinals, Nutt pinned Cristian Garcia of Rock Springs 3:55 into the bout. Squaring off against Evanston’s Ryder Wilson in the championship round, Nutt pinned his opponent in 1:32.

In the 152-pound bracket, sophomore Garrett Haley scored silver. He defeated Bear River’s Jaron Nelson by a 14-6 major decision in the semifinals.

Junior Fisher Vance, sophomore Garrett Madole and freshman Landon Fornstrom each secured bronze in their respective brackets.

Senior Tucker Kelly placed fourth in the 170-pound bracket and sophomore Cash McCann took fifth place in the 285-pound division.

Evanston Duels

Members of both the Pinedale girls’ and boys’ wrestling team came together to defeat the team from Duchesne High School in Utah in the first duel, 48-30.

Hammer, Larsen, Haley, Kelly, junior Jamison Snell, McCann, McKinzie Mortensen and Nutt each defeated their opponents.

Evanston proved to be a tougher adversary. Larsen, Haley, Nutt and Hammer scored wins before Pinedale eventually fell to the Red Devils, 55-21.

The Pinedale wrestling teams travel to Worland on Dec. 16-17 for the Battle of the Bighorns.

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