Strohschein, Alexander win Don Runner Invite titles

Nathan Oster

Junior Ty Strohschein and freshman Loomis Alexander won their weight classes and Greybull-Riverside placed fifth in a 13-team field at last weekend’s Don Runner Invitational in Pavillion.

Coach Rob Nuttall said he loved the way his team stepped up at the event, which was billed by some as a preview of the Class 2A West Regional.  With the exception of Cokeville and Kemmerer, all the teams that will be battling it out later this month for state tournament berths were in attendance.

“What a weekend for us,” Nuttall said.  “We got to see the hard work, grinding, running, conditioning and pace of practice all come together. 

“The quarterfinal round was huge for us — we put seven guys in the semis, and even though only two moved forward, on the backside we placed another three, which was great.”

With separate competitions for girls, each tournament is handling those results differently. Some are including them in the final team scores, some are not.  The Don Runner did so, which hurt a team like G-R which has no female wrestlers.

The final order of finish showed Big Piney winning it with 211 points, followed by Wind River with 169, Lovell with 156, Thermopolis with 145 and G-R checking in fifth with 134. If the girls points hadn’t been included, Thermop would have moved up to third and G-R to fourth, seven points ahead of Lovell.

G-R’s two champions continue to set the pace.

Alexander improved to 15-1 on the season, winning all three of his matches at 120 by pin.  His only loss of the season was to the top-ranked kid in 3A. “He’s really been wrestling well the last two weeks,” said Nuttall. “He’s a hammer on top, aggressive on his feet and really dictating the pace of matches.”

In the final, Alexander required just 47 seconds to pin a wrestler from Riverton.

Strohschein, who wrestles at 182, won all three of his matches by pin to improve to 20-1.  Like Alexander, he posted a pin in the final, requiring just 1:14. “He’s come on strong since the Powell tournament,” said Nuttall. “He works extremely hard in practice … and has put himself in a nice position as the postseason approaches.” 

Other G-R placers included Reece Whisenant, fourth at 132; Jake Schlattmann, third at 170, and Curtis Strohschein, fourth at 284.  

Like so many others, Wisenant is gaining ground on the competition.  Wrestling at 132, he reeled off three straight wins to reach the semis. A loss to Wind River’s KC Gibson followed, but Whisenant responded well, winning his next match in overtime and then “significantly closing the gap” on a Wyoming Indian wrestler who had pinned him earlier.  Their third-place match went the distance, with Whisenant coming up a little short, 14-10.

“That was kind of the theme of the weekend — our guys winning matches over guys they lost to earlier or simply closing the distance on them. That’s what we want to see.”

Schlattmann improved to 13-2, winning three and losing just once at 170. It came in the semis against a ranked 3A wrestler from  Lander, Gabe Harris.  Schlattmann had beaten Harris 8-2 in pool wrestling on Friday, but was a bit under the weather for the rematch on Saturday, which he lost by pin.  

Curtis Strohschein went 3-2, with two of his wins coming by way of pin.  His only losses were to the top-ranked heavyweight in 3A, Cody Cunningham, and to Kellen Linnan of Shoshoni in the third-place match. The matchup with Cunningham was a great one for Strohschein.  Just a point or two separated them when Cunningham ended the match with a third-period pin, coming with just 30 seconds or so remaining.

While they were the only placers, every G-R wrestler won at least one match and scored points to help the team’s cause.  Troy Cheatham went 1-2 at 106, but his victory was a pin over a Lovell wrestler. “A big win for him and for us,” said Nuttall.

Ben Mendenhall and Kaleb McDaniel went 1-2 at 126.

Braxdon Engle and Garrett Wiggins went 1-2 at 138.

Caiden Sorenson went 2-2 at 145, earning his coach’s praise for defeating a wrestler from Lovell who had beaten him the week before and for closing the gap on Caden Clifford of Big Piney.

Cole Bolzer went 2-2 at 152, earning a pair of pins, including an important head-to-head matchup with a Lovell wrestler.

Camden Schriner went 0-2 at 160.

Rounding out the scoring for G-R were Erik Rosales, who went 2-2 at 195, and Kevin Rosales, who went 1-2 at 220.

“The regional standings will look a lot different with Cokeville and Kemmerer in the mix,” said Nuttall.  “But the improvements we’ve made in the last two weeks have put us in a nice position — and with as much time as we have from now until regionals, provided a glimpse of who we can be as a team.” 

G-R will get a good look at Kemmerer and Cokeville later this week at the Lander Invitational.  The team has traditionally spent this weekend in Moorcroft, but opted for Lander because of the amount of mat time it provides JV wrestlers on top of head-to-head matchups with the Rangers and Panthers.