EVANSTON — The Star Valley High School wrestling team proved most recently it can compete with some of the best teams in the state, regardless of Class size, at the Ron Thon Memorial Tournament in late January.
The Braves, the two-time defending state champions in Class 3A, and the No. 1-ranked team by Wyowrestling.com since Week 0, proved it again in a dual match on Thursday at Evanston.
Star Valley, which has at least one wrestler represented in each weight class in the Week 6 rankings, claimed a 55-18 win over the Red Devils on Senior Night.
“Anytime you can wrestle someone good, it’s going to make you better,” Evanston coach Larry Wagstaff said. “There’s a saying out there, ‘to understand greatness, you have to compete against greatness.”
The Braves have a total of 17 wrestlers in the top-seven for Class 3A in the latest Rankings. Six of those wrestlers are ranked No. 1.
“Any tough matches helps us,” Evanston junior Saige Synan said. “Coach (Wagstaff) always wants us to beat better kids. In order to get better, we’ve got to push ourselves harder and compete against better kids and stronger kids.”
At the Ron Thon Memorial, the Braves took second took second place with a team score of 156. Thunder Basin, the top-ranked team in Class 4A since Week 1, took first with 170 points.
Star Valley placed higher than Kelly Walsh (No. 2 Class 4A), Cheyenne East (No. 3 Class 4A), Rock Springs (No. 4 Class 4A), Natrona County (No. 5 Class 4A) and Sheridan (No. 6 Class 4A).
Could they be one of the toughest matchups in the state?
“They’ve got to be up there,” Evanston junior Pablo Escalante said. “They’re a tough team to beat.”
On Thursday, Star Valley jumped out to a 16-0 lead after three matches and the Braves never looked back. Josh Dawson won by fall (1:39) over Evanston Senior Blake Overy at 220 pounds. Hunter Cranney also won by fall (3:32) against Eric Orozio at 285, and Haze Child claimed an 11-0 decision against Brandon VanGieson at 106.
The Red Devils got on the board when Nena Sowers won by decision (9-4) at 113, but Evanston would lose its next five matches.
Tristan Hicks won by fall (4:47) against Isaac Saavadra at 120 and Gavin Patterson claimed a 12-0 major decision win against Kendell Cummings at 126. Star Valley’s Carson Vandeburg won by forfeit at 132, while Ren King won by fall (1:06) against Nick Child at 138 and Trevor Clark earned a technical fall (18-2, 3:48) against Stetson Roundy at 145.
Saige Synan got Evanston back on the board with an 8-4 decision against Kodi Burk at 152. Koa DeLong and Trent Clark both won by fall against Gabe Morris and Rylie Griggs and 160 and 170. Pablo Escalante won by fall (4:46) against Brennan Harris, and Gavin Simmons won by forfeit to wrap up the evening at 195 pounds.
“The key to my victory was a result of listening to my coaches,” Synan, the No. 2-ranked wrester in Class 4A at 152 pounds, said. What they were telling me to do was probably the best thing to do on the mat.”
Prior to the match, Evanston recognized seniors Joseph Williams, Overy, Simmons and Roundy.
“They’ve been at it for four years,” Wagstaff said. “They’ve put a lot of time into it, a lot of dedication. They’re good kids that will be successful in life.”
Added Escalante: “I’ve wrestled with them since my freshman year. They’ve pushed me and have shown me how to get better.”
Evanston will be back in action next Friday and Saturday (Feb. 16-17) when the Red Devils host a regional tournament.
106: Haze Child (Star Valley) over Brandon VanGieson (Evanston) – major decision, 11-0
113: Nena Sowers (Evanston) over Brayden Andrews (Star Valley) – decision, 9-4
120: Tristan Hicks (Star Valley) over Isaac Saavadra (Evanston) – fall, 4:47
126: Gavin Patterson (Star Valley) over Kendell Cummings (Evanston) – major decision 12-0
132: Carson Vandeburg (Star Valley) – winner by forfeit
138: Ren King (Star Valley) over Nick Child (Evanston) – fall, 1:06
145: Trevor Clark (Star Valley) over Stetson Roundy (Evanston) – technical fall, 18-2, 3:48
152: Saige Synan (Evanston) over Kodi Burk – decision, 8-4
160: Koa DeLong (Star Valley) over Gabe Morris (Evanston) – fall, 1:55
170: Trent Clark (Star Valley) over Rylie Griggs (Evanston) – fall, 1:06
182: Pablo Escalante (Evanston) over Brennan Harris (Star Valley) – fall, 4:46
195: Gavin Simmons (Evanston) – winner by forfeit
220: Josh Dawson (Star Valley) over Blake Overy (Evanston) – fall, 1:39
285: Hunter Cranney (Star Valley) over Eric Orozio (Evanston) – fall, 3:32
RANKED EVANSTON WRESTLERS (Class 4A)
RANKED STAR VALLEY WRESTLERS (Class 3A)