Punchers, Lady Punchers leave it all on the mat at State

From Head Coach Cole Clifford
Posted 2/29/24

The Punchers started off the tournament strong, winning 8 in the boys and 1 in the girls.

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Punchers, Lady Punchers leave it all on the mat at State


CASPER — The Punchers started off the tournament strong, winning 8 in the boys and 1 in the girls. That was huge to get off to such a great start in which nerves can get the best of you especially if it is your first time there. I just loved how well we competed on day 1. Even in the matches we lost we did very well. 

At the end of day 1 we still had 11 boys in the tournament and all 3 girls. The boys team was sitting fourth after day one. The top 5 teams really did a great job of separating themselves from the field right off the start and it created some excitement as the tournament went on. 

Day 2 for the girls was a great day. Even though they all suffered a defeat, Charleigh Smith lost to the eventual state champion but was able to come back and win two big matches. One was defeating an opponent who beat her at regions to allow her to wrestle on day 3. Kristine Young had an amazing tournament as well and an outstanding day 2. Kristine was able to beat an opponent as well who defeated her last week but also come back with two huge wins to earn a chance to wrestle on day 3.

For the boys we had some difficult challenges in both the quarters and semi finals. At the end of day 2 we had 2 in the finals. Those that lost in the quarter finals all came back through and won two matches and qualified them for day 3 of wrestling. Caden Clifford, Zavier Clifford, Zach Murphy, Zef Zuniga each had to claw their way back by winning two more matches on day 2 to earn a spot in day 3 of competition.  I was impressed how well each of them did and how hard they had to fight to earn that spot. 

At the end of the day the team was in 5th place 28 points behind Lingle and 30 points behind Thermopolis. 

I did not think we had a chance to place in the top four after day 2. It was just too large of a lead to come back from. But coming out on Day 3 Dominick Sanchez got us off to the hot start. He defeated his opponent to advance to the consolation finals. Then Jackie Meador pinned his opponent. Then Zavier Clifford pinned a returning all-state wrestler, that was followed by a victory by Caden Clifford, and finally Zach Murphy pinned his opponent from Thermopolis, That run right there put us in reach of Thermop. Going into the medal rounds we were just 12 points back. We need to get some wins and have some help to catch Thermop. We had 3 victories from Dominic, Jackie and Zef Zuniga in the medal rounds. 

On the Girls side Charleigh Smith defeated the regional champion and then lost a back and forth match to earn 4th place.  Kristine Young again wrestled lights out but was injured and could not continue and placed 6th.

Going into the finals on the boys side the Puncher were in 5th place 1 point behind Thermop.  We had two in the finals and Thermop had 4.  The finals started off with a huge 1st period pinn by Caleb Brown. Caleb just had an amazing season when it all came together this week.  We did have a couple scares in the Semifinals but he overcame that to become the 2A state champion at 106.  Caleb's pinn put us 5 points up on Thermop.  Thermop then lost two very close matches before David Farrington wrestled. David had a very close match in the finals losgin by 1 point. He had a huge run and the end of the year and it all paid off for him placing 2nd and earning all state. At the end of David's match the team was still up 5 and Themrop had wrestlers in the next two weight classes. Thermop was able to win their last match but did not earn any bonus points for the victory and that kept us 1 point up on Thermop. It was a huge come back for us and one that took all of the kids to help out in this achievement. 

Big Piney High School, Punchers, Lady Punchers, wrestling, sports, 2024 Wyoming State Wrestling Championships