EVANSTON — The curtain came down on Red Devil wrestling during this past weekend’s state tournament, Feb. 22-23, in the Casper Events Center. The Red Devils scored 99 team points to place ninth among the 13 teams in Class 4A.
Evanston’s top individual wrestler was Pablo Escalante, who reached the title match at 195 pounds before eventually falling to Yahav Shraiber of Natrona County at the 5:34 mark of the third period. Escalante earned all-state honors for his second-place finish and ended his senior season with a record of 33-11, winning 75 percent of his matches.
On his way to the title bout, Escalante defeated a former state champion in Zach Aguilar of Laramie, who was ranked as the number-two wrestler in Class 4A at 195 pounds. The senior finished where he was ranked most of the season according to WyoWrestling.com; Escalante was briefly top-ranked, but slipped to sixth after placing eighth at regionals before storming back to wrestle strong at state.
Freshman Jaxin Moore made a statement at state with his third-place finish at 113 pounds. He was ranked seventh two weeks ago, but fell out of the top-7 for the final two weeks in the rankings, yet finished third at state with his lone loss to eventual state champion, sophomore Dominic Martinez of Green River, while defeating top-seed junior Adam Roberts of Cheyenne Central, along the way.
Sophomore Kendall Cummings went into the state tournament as a fourth-seed and was ranked third at 132 pounds. Cummings ended up fourth at state falling to Cyruss Meeks of Natrona County, whom he had defeated the week prior at the 4A West regional tournament. Cummings finished the season with a record of 33-19.
Sophomore Brandon VanGieson had fallen out of the rankings at 106 pounds, but was able to wrestle strong to capture a fifth-place finish at state.
Uinta County had one state champion emerge in Lyman freshman Sefton Douglass at 106 pounds.
Casper Kelly Walsh, the top-ranked team in Class 4A for most, if not the entire, season, proved worthy of the ranking. The Trojans won their first state championship in school history, scoring 223 points to runner-up Green River’s 204. Cheyenne East, the defending 4A state title team, placed third with 195 points, followed by Thunder Basin (187.5); Rock Springs (186.5); Natrona County (151.5); Cheyenne Central (137); Sheridan (131); Evanston (99); Laramie (50); Cheyenne South (27) and Campbell County (11).
In Class 3A, the Star Valley Braves won their fourth-consecutive state crown, amassing 296.5 points. The Braves were followed by Douglas (193.5); Powell (172); Pinedale (130); Worland (126); Torrington (120); Rawlins (98); Wheatland (76.5); Lyman (53); Buffalo (58); Burns/Pine Bluffs (55.5); Lander (53); Riverton (52.5); Newcastle/Upton (41); Mountain View (34) and Jackson (10).
The Kemmerer Rangers came within four points of unseating Moorcroft. The Wolves scored 185 points to the Rangers’ 181, en route to making it seven state titles in a row in Class 2A. The runner-up Rangers had four wrestlers crowned state champions — Colter Julian at 126 pounds; Dawson Schramm at 132 pounds; Donny Profit at 145 pounds and Hayden Walker, who capped off a 46-0 undefeated season with a state championship.
In a local connection, Proffit was one of just two wrestlers to win four consecutive state championships, with Tate Soddard of Glenrock also achieving the major milestone. Proffit’s father, Clint, won a state championship at 145 pounds for the Red Devils back in 1984. Donny won his fourth on the same day his grandpa and namesake, local rancher Don Proffit, passed away from quadruple by-pass surgery.
Following Moorcroft and Kemmerer, the order of finish for Class 2A at the state wrestling tournament went this way:
Glenrock (155); Thermopolis (146); Cokeville (143); Wright (131); Big Piney (114.5); Lovell (113); Southeast (102); Greybull/Riverside (69.5); Shoshoni (66.5); Wind River (48); Sundance (46.5); Hulett and Rocky Mountain (45); Lusk (34); Lingle-Ft. Laramie (32); Tongue River (27); Saratoga (22); Wyoming Indian (3); Dubois (2) and H.E.M. (0).
Red Devil wrestling will celebrate the season past this Wednesday, Feb. 27, beginning at 6 p.m. at EHS. The Herald will have a follow-up story in a future issue.