Red Devil grapplers 3rd at 3A State Tourney
The Evanston High School boys’ wrestling team made their first state tournament in Class 3A count at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper last weekend, taking third as a team, with 10 wrestlers earning a spot on the podium.
Junior Brady Roberts led the charge for the Red Devils with a second-place finish at 160 pounds, while six of his teammates followed with fourth-place finishes: Sophomore Kolby Hamilton at 113 pounds, senior Walker Wilson at 126 pounds, junior Kyson Hamilton at 138 pounds, junior Aiden Liechty at 182 pounds, sophomore Tarrin Haws at 195 pounds and senior Carson VanGieson at 285 pounds.
On the girls’ side, the history-making Lady Devils finished 12th in the inaugural WHSAA Girls State Wrestling Championships, with two wrestlers — Marty Dick and Aaliya Martin — earning a spot on the podium.
“I thought we had a great tournament,” said EHS head coach Larry Wagstaff. “Those kids all worked hard, and for those kids that got on the podium, that’s a good way to end your year. For those seniors, that’s a good way to end their careers. And when you look at the ones who placed, we have a bunch of them coming back, so we’re excited about that.”
Evanston had a productive Day 1 of the 3A State Wrestling Tournament Friday, with six Red Devils — Walker Wilson (126 pounds), Braunson Sims (132 pounds), Kyson Hamilton (138 pounds), Brady Roberts (160 pounds), Aiden Liechty (182 pounds) and Carson VanGieson (285 pounds) — wrestling their way into the semifinals of their respective weight classes. Roberts was the only Red Devil to advance to Saturday’s finals, though Wilson, Kyson Hamilton, Kolby Hamilton, Liechty, Tarrin Haws and Carson VanGieson battled back through the consolation rounds Saturday to place fourth.
Other Red Devils that made the podium included Ryker Frongner (6th, 106 pounds), Luke Benton (5th, 120 pounds) and Braunson Sims (5th, 132 pounds).
Green River won the 3A team title with a score of 223.5, followed by Cody in second, with 167. Evanston was third with 164 points, while Pinedale (152) and Rawlins (133) rounded out the top five.
Looking to build on last year’s third-place finish, Roberts opened the tournament at 160 pounds with a pair of pins over Pinedale’s Tucker Kelly and Mountain View’s Landon Cook. In the semifinals, Roberts won a 13-1 major decision over Rawlins’ Ezra Archuleta, setting up a showdown in the championship finals with Douglas’ Lane Ewing, a three-time state champion; a tough draw that Roberts didn’t shy away from, according to Wagstaff.
“We knew going in that it would be a tough draw, and we talked with Brady about it,” Wagstaff said. “He decided what was best for the team was for him to stay at that weight and do the best he could.”
In the end, experience won out, as Ewing pinned Roberts in the second round.
“Brady wrestled well to get to that point, and he’ll be a force to be reckoned with next year,” Wagstaff said. “He’ll do nothing but get stronger and faster, all those things.”
Wrestling in his final state tournament at 126 pounds, Wilson opened with a pin of Torrington’s Barrett Eichenberger, then won a 4-1 decision over Baylen Smith of Burns/Pine Bluffs in the quarterfinals. A loss in the semifinals to Rawlins’ Zachary Covolo dropped Wilson to the consolation rounds, where he pinned Worland’s Kobe Swain to secure a spot in the third-place match. In the final match of his high school career, Wilson lost a tough 3-2 decision to Pinedale’s Garrett Madole to finish fourth.
“Two of the best kids in the tournament were in Walker’s weight class,” Wagstaff said. “He competed with them, and was able to pick up a fourth.”
After falling in the 113-pound quarterfinals to Pinedale’s Wylee Wilson, Kolby Hamilton rattled off three straight wins in the consolation round, including a thrilling 1-0 decision in the consolation semifinals over Green River’s Spencer Wright. Hamilton was unable to duplicate that success in the third-place match, falling to Torrington’s Ty Albaugh to finish fourth.
“Kolby at 113 wrestled as good as he has all year,” Wagstaff said. “He ended up beating some kids that beat us at regionals, so he did really well.”
After pinning his first two opponents to open the tournament at 138 pounds, Kyson Hamilton lost a close 4-3 decision to Lander’s Hunter Velarde in the semifinals. Hamilton pinned Green River’s Hunter Davis in the consolation semifinals, though he lost an 11-5 decision to Pinedale’s Ethan Kemp in the third-place match to finish fourth.
“Kyson had a good tournament — he had a lot of close matches, and that’s kind of the way he is,” Wagstaff said. “I think another year on him, the more confident he’s going to be. He’ll be tough to deal with.”
At 182 pounds, Liechty won his first two matches to advance to the semifinals, where he lost an 8-4 decision to Rawlins’ Josh Smith, dropping him to the consolation round. In the consolation semifinals, Liechty pinned Wheatland’s Maxx Meyer, but couldn’t find an answer for Mountain View’s Carson Eardley in the third-place match, finishing fourth.
“Aiden led the team in pins this season with 34, so he’ll be one to watch next season,” Wagstaff said.
Battling a bug the entire weekend, Haws also had to wrestle his way through the consolation round at 195 pounds, after falling in the championship quarterfinals. The talented sophomore won three straight matches in the consolation round, including a hard-fought 5-1 decision over Riverton’s Parker Devries; he ran out of steam by the third-place match, losing to Douglas’ Carter Archuleta to take fourth.
At 285 pounds, senior Carson VanGieson pinned his first two opponents, before losing to Douglas’ Kenai Berquist in the championship semifinals. VanGieson pinned Mountain View’s Coby Jones to advance to the third-place match, but fell to Riverton’s Zaryc Prosser to finish fourth.
“Carson is an awesome kid,” Wagstaff said. “He’s such a fun kid to be around, and no matter what’s going on, he has a smile on his face. He’s a good leader; the kids love him. He’s gonna go play football in college, and the wrestling experience he’s had will pay off for him there.”
Other Red Devil wrestlers who competed at state included Keith Shelton at 106 pounds (1-2), Lukus Heflebower at 113 pounds (0-2), Ryder Wilson at 120 pounds (0-2), Jaxon Haider at 138 pounds (0-2), Riley Kohler at 145 pounds (2-2), Reece Overy at 152 pounds (0-2), Ethan Reichenberg at 152 pounds (1-2), Cole Robinette at 170 pounds (1-2) and Kadence Haines at 220 pounds (0-2).
It was a historical season for girls’ wrestling in the state of Wyoming, culminating in the inaugural Girls State Wrestling Championships, held Thursday and Friday at the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper.
Much like the Ron Thon Tournament last month, the state tournament featured an all-class bracket, featuring 48 teams from around the state. The Evanston High School girls’ wrestling team had a solid tournament, placing 12th overall as a team, with two wrestlers earning a spot on the podium.
“The girls were really fun to watch, and if you listened to the crowd, they go twice as loud when the girls wrestle,” Wagstaff said. “It doesn’t even matter if they’re from your school — fans are just behind them, and it’s just awesome to see.”
Star Valley won the team title with 184 points, followed by Pinedale with 129 points and Sheridan with 102 points. Kelly Walsh was fourth with 97 points, while Kemmerer rounded out the Top 5 with 88 points. Evanston was 12th, with 52 points.
Six Lady Devils — Sidney Liechty at 115 pounds, Leah Larkin at 125 pounds, Johana Saavedra at 130 pounds, Ramsey Fearn at 145 pounds, Marty Dick at 155 pounds and Aaliya Martin at 235 pounds — competed in the tournament, with Dick and Martin finishing fifth in their respective classes.
After opening the tournament with a pin over Star Valley’s Brooke Schwab at 155 pounds, Dick fell in the quarterfinals to Lingle-Ft. Laramie’s Josie Houk, dropping to the consolation rounds. Dick pinned her first two opponents in the consolation round to advance to the consolation semifinals, though she lost to Big Piney’s Charleigh Smith. In the fifth-place match, she won a 9-1 major decision over Hulett’s Delaine Munch.
“Marty is a first-year wrestler, so to be able to pull that off is pretty impressive,” Wagstaff said.
At 235 pounds, Martin pinned her first two opponents before losing in the semifinals to Pinedale’s Katyana Dexter. A loss in the consolation semis dropped Martin to the fifth-place match, where she pinned Star Valley’s Nellie Mayes to finish fifth.
“Aaliyah is also a first-year wrestler, and the number of girls that were in both hers and Marty’s class bracket is incredible,” Wagstaff said. “They did an outstanding job.”
Liechty (115 pounds, 2-2), Larkin (125 pounds, 1-2), Saavedra (130 pounds, 1-2) and Fearn (145 pounds, 3-2) also represented Evanston with pride and heart.