Avenging a loss from earlier this season at the Thoman Memorial Invitational in Green River, the Evanston High School wrestling team downed Rock Springs in a home dual Wednesday, 44-36.
Though the teams split live matches 3-3, the Red Devils had more wins by default to ensure the win. Jaxin Moore at 120, Kody Rex at 132 and Ryker Case at 145 were the winners on the Evanston side, while Rigden Wagstaff (170 pounds), Payton Graham (182 pounds), Mayson Erickson (195 pounds), Walker Wilson (106 pounds) and Brandon VanGieson (113 pounds) won their matches by forfeit.
EHS head coach Larry Wagstaff expressed his frustration at the number of open weight classes, especially against a conference opponent.
“When you wrestle a team from your conference, you want to wrestle all their kids,” he said. “One way or the other, you want to kind of know what they have in terms of wrestlers so you can better prepare for later in the year. But Rock Springs has the same thing we have going on here at Evanston — a lot of sick kids. That flu is going around and hitting everybody.”
At 120 pounds, Moore made short work of Rock Springs’ Lorenzo Solano, pinning him in under a minute.
“Jaxin did a good job for us,” Wagstaff said. “He ended up beating that kid pretty good. The kid they usually use at that weight [Tim Henry], they had him at a different weight, but Jaxin has had good luck against him as well.”
Kody Rex continued to impress at 132 pounds, making the most of his varsity opportunities. Rex squared off against Rock Springs’ RJ Davidson in a wild one, eking out a 6-4 win in a match that could have gone either way right up until the final buzzer.
“Kody Rex is really starting to figure things out at the varsity level,” Wagstaff said. “He stayed in there and battled right to the end.”
At 145, Case also wrestled an exciting match, pinning Colton Davidson in the final round for Evanston’s final win of the meet.
“Ryker is getting better all the time,” Wagstaff said. “He’s another one that’s starting to figure things out a little bit. He’s got a pretty good shot when he’ll take it. Up there in Idaho Falls [in the Tiger/Grizz Invitational], he started to wrestle quite a bit better than he had earlier in the year. Hopefully, he’ll continue to grow and keep heading in the right direction.”
At 138 pounds, Evanston’s Kendell Cummings had his hands full with Zack Vasquez, last year’s state champion at 126 pounds. Vasquez pinned Cummings in the final seconds of the second round.
Eric Orozco also ran into a buzzsaw of sorts against Rock Springs’ AJ Kelly at 285 pounds, losing by pin in the second round. Kelly was the runner-up at last year’s 4A West tournament and finished fourth at state.
Rock Springs’ Brandon Mortensen pinned Red Devil Rigan Hoggatt at 220 pounds, while Evanston’s Logan Elsen fell to Tim Henry at 126 pounds.
Evanston’s Steven Dick wrestled the last match of the night, losing by pin to Wyatt Fletcher.
The Red Devils will have the weekend off, and will use the time to get everyone healthy. The team will be on the road the following weekend to Riverton for the Ron Thon Tournament, where the state’s best wrestlers will compete for bragging rights, regardless of class. Evanston placed 13th out of 43 teams at last year’s Ron Thon.
“Ron Thon is the biggest tournament of the year as far as competition goes,” Wagstaff said. “That’s a really good tournament, they run it very efficiently. It’s a pretty good battle.”
Tiger/Grizz Invitational, Idaho Falls
The Red Devil grapplers were in Idaho Falls the weekend of Jan. 17-18 for the Tiger/Grizz Invitational, posting an 18th-place finish out of 36 teams.
Teams from Idaho, Wyoming and Utah competed in the event.
Kendell Cummings was the lone visitor to the podium for Evanston, placing fifth at 138 pounds with a 4-3 decision over Box Elder’s Quinton Knight.
Other Red Devils who scored points included Rigden Wagstaff at 170 pounds (3-2 record), Eric Orozco at 285 pounds (3-2 record), Jaxin Moore at 120 (3-2 record), Brandon VanGieson at 113 (3-2 record), Q Saavedra at 98 (2-2 record), Kody Rex at 132 (2-2 record), Ryker Case at 145 (2-2 record) and Walker Wilson at 106 (2-2 record).
“It was a pretty tough tournament for us,” coach Wagstaff said. “We only placed one kid, and that was Kendell Cummings. We got a lot of our kids out there a ways, but the tournament only placed the top six [instead of the usual eight at Wyoming meets], so that hurt us a little bit. But it was good competition, our guys wrestled a lot of good matches.”