Wolverines wrestle in DouglasJan 10, 2018 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
On Friday and Saturday in Douglas, the Riverton Wolverines welcomed back a state champion.
Hayden Wempen returned to the mat at the Shane Shatto Invitational and wasted no time in returning to top-notch form in finishing second in the 182-pound division.
Wempen began with an opening-round victory against Jonathan Ramirez of Thunder Basin with a fall at 5:51, then followed that up with another triumph over Pueblo West, Colorado's Tanner Henderson with another fall at 3:09.
The pair of wins advanced Wempen to the quarterfinals against Chadron, Nebraska's Lance Cattin and he prevailed by a 6-1 decision, which moved him on to the championship match.
Alas, the Big Red machine finally met his match in Gunner Bartlett of Cheyenne East, who came out on top by a 7-4 decision, leaving Wempen to claim a runner-up medal, while running his record to 4-1 in his season debut.
Riverton's other defending Class 3-A state champion, Ridge Briggs, also competed against the rugged field, which featured schools from Colorado and Nebraska and finished fifth in the 132-pound class.
Briggs, who triumphed last season in Casper in the 113-pound division, has moved up in weight this season, but hasn't missed a beat in continuing his dominance, going 18-5 so far on the season.
In Douglas, Briggs began with a tough draw against Pueblo West's Nick Wilson and lost a difficult 6-2 decision, which relegated him to the consolation round.
But, Briggs was undaunted by the setback and wrestled all the way back to the fifth-place match, in which he faced Cheyenne East's Shawn Smith and was beaten with a 5-2 decision.
In between the pair of losses, Briggs win four straight matches.
After receiving a bye in the first consolation round, he prevailed with an 11-0 major decision against Torrington's Pake Haun, then took out Matthew Legler of Sheridan with a fall at 2:04.
Next up was Dominic Dominguez of Cheyenne South, who was sent packing with a fall at 3:40, then Wheatland's Ethan Read, who Briggs vanquished with another fall at 2:44.
But, that was where the winning streak ended for the Wolverine grappler, who lost a 9-2 decision to Kelly Walsh's Caleb Nathan in the consolation semifinals.
In the 145-pound division, Peyton Rees (10-3) beat Torrington's Brett Posten in the opening round, but then lost a 12-7 decision to Cheyenne Central's Brian Nicholson, then agains to Newcastle-Upton's Alan Baker in the consolation round, 4-3.
Other Riverton wrestlers who competed included Laiton Ivy (113 pounds, 0-2), James Hampton 160, 0-2), Ricky Hoffman (195, 0-2) and Skyler Soule (285, 0-2).
Overall, the Wolverines finished 17th in the 26-team field, with 45 points behind winners Thunder Basin, who won the event with 170.5 points.
Riverton will next compete at the Lander Invitational on Dec. 19-20.
On Friday, Shoshoni hosted Big Piney in a dual and was defeated by the Punchers, 66-18.
Winners for the Wranglers included James Knigge, who defeated Creeden Schell with a fall in the 120-pound division, Tryston Truempler, who beat Brady Johnson by fall in the 145 class and Gabe Cash, who won by forfeit in the 220 match.
The Cougars of Wind River also competed against Big Piney in Shoshoni and like their Fremont County counterparts, were also defeated by the Punchers by a score of 59-24.
Kyle Laird won the 132-pound bout for Wind River with a fall over Nicholas Garcia, while Colton Befus won by forfeit in the 182-pound contest and Owen McAdams also was awarded a forfeit victory in the 220-pound match.
Lander was also in Douglas for the Shane Shatto Invitational last weekend.
DeAundre Velarde (160 pounds) and William Atnip (170) both made their respective ways to the championship matches in each weight class for the Tigers, but both were forced to settle for runner-up status for the weekend.
Velarde (15-5) won his first four matches with a pair of falls and two decisions, before losing out to Alliance, Nebraska's Lane Applegarth in the final by a major decision of 9-0.
Likewise Atnip (17-1) advanced to the championship match in the 170 division with a first-round bye, followed by a fall and a pair of decisions, then was defeated by Natrona's Brett Brenton in the final, 15-1.
Lander finished 10th overall, with 83.5 points.