It was a variety of performances for the Lander Tigers in the Class 3-A state wrestling tournament last weekend. The Tigers won many more than they lost as a team with a strong performance including a state championship, a second place, and a third place finish along with a smattering of fifth and sixth place medals.
“A great tournament as a team. We placed six kids, return five of those and have a load of talent coming back,” Lander head coach Eric Watson said. “Super proud of the guys as a whole and hope they got a taste of the success and what they are they are capable of for the future.”
Coaltyn Laird won his state championship at 106 pounds the hard way once reaching the semi-final rounds.
Laird pinned Cody’s Lane Torczon with a quick first period combination in just 36 seconds. He handled Adrian Trujillo of Rawlins in the quarterfinals with a second period pin at 2:45 then going got a little tougher.
In his semi-final match against Ryan Nutt of Pinedale, Laird went the distance with a hard fought 6-4 decision over the Sublette County wrestler.
In the championship match, it came down to an even closer decision, with Laird winning the state title 2-0 over Green River’s Spencer Wright.
It took Ernesto Cabriales five hard fought matches to bring home the bronze medal at 285 pounds for the Lander Tigers. He opened with a buzzer beating pin of Kyler Bartlett from Green River, followed by a narrow 8-7 decision over Douglas heavyweight Kolby Parker to reach the semi-finals.
He met a familiar face in teammate Cody Cunningham in the semi-final match, with Cunningham pinning his fellow 285 pound Tiger at 2:45.
Cabriales dropped to the consolation semi-finals where he made quick work of Cody Winslow of Pine Bluffs/Burns in a 1:29 pin in the opening period. In the third place match, he beat the end of the first period with another last second pin over Kysen Hebdon of Star Valley at 2:00 for the third place medal.
“Aside from Coaltyn’s championship and Cody’s final appearance I was most excited for Ernie’s placing. We took a strong and athletic kid that never wrestled a day in his life, taught him a couple moves, and put him on the podium as place winner for us. Great feeling as coaches and so happy for him as an athlete. We hope to get all of Coach Scott’s linemen after Ernie’s success as it will benefit both programs,” Watson said.
Cody Cunningham scored the Tigers only second place finish with a 3-1 performance at 285 pounds. Cunningham overpowered Lucas Loran of Cody in the opening round by pin at 1:55, then pinned Noa Vega of Worland in the quarterfinals in another first period pin at 1:44.
He met Cabriables in the semi-finals to advance to a championship match with Douglas heavyweight Kyle Logar. Logar pinned Cabriales in the second period at 2:46, earning the Tiger senior a silver medal in his final state tournament match.
Zaim Cabriales had a 1-2 performance for the Tigers at 195 pounds. Cabriales was pinned by TK Stinson of Douglas at 1:09 of the opening round but recovered in the consolation bracket with a pin over Zach Funk of Rawlins at 1:34. In his final match, he was pinned by Worland’s Ralph Moreno at 1:24.
Kaden Rowan’s time on the mat was quick at 182 pounds with three pins, two against him and one by Rowan. Zachary Patterson of Star Valley put Rowan in a quick first period combination for a 44 second pin. Rowan picked up a win in the consolation bracket with a pin over Tagr Holmes of Burns/Pine Bluffs in 1:17. In the third match, Rowan was pinned by Karson Lamb of Powell in 2:51.
You have to wrestle a long time to bring home a medal when you lose in the quarterfinals but Lander’s 152 pound Gabe Harris did just that, sporting a 5-1 record at state to earn fifth place.
Harris pinned Ivan Keuntjes of Worland in opening round action at 1:50, before dropping a quarterfinal match by pin at 3:23 to Chase Housley of Star Valley.
Harris went to work after that with four straight consolation bracket wins. He picked up a 5-2 decision over Jaxxson Gomez of Green River, followed by a pin of Riley Mclaughlin of Burns/Pine Bluffs at 2:03.
In the consolation semi-finals he pinned Jackson Wood of Cody by pin at the end of the opening period, then took fifth place with a pin of Housley at 1:53, the same wrestler that sent him to the consolation bracket in the second round.
Jake Denson won one and dropped two at 145 pounds for the Tigers. Denson was pinned at 2:57 by Tillman Burns of Worland, before picking up a first period win at :41 over Wyatt Fitzwater of Wheatland. He dropped his final match to Buffalo’s Adrian Archer by pin at 2:36.
Charles Snyder, the other Tiger at 145 also went 1-2 at state with a 13-3 opening round loss to Colton Gehlhausen of Pinedale. Snyder pinned Worland’s Loren Finch six seconds into the second period, then fell by decision 9-3 to Jacob Guild of Star Valley.
Hunter Smith-Velarde dropped his first match at 132 pounds by the narrowest of margins in a 4-3 decision to Colson Myers of Buffalo. Smith-Velarde won three straight in consolation with a second period pin of DC Cathcart of Burns/Pine Bluffs at 2:05, a 7-0 decision over Dustin Larsen of Pinedale, and third period pin of Patrick Haney of Powell at 4:26 before dropping a consolation semi-final match by Ross Goncalves of Worland via a 7-1 decision.
Kolby Heil went to the mat six times earning a sixth place finish at 113 pounds.
Heil stepped into a pinning combination by Taylor Biggs of Cody in the opening round, losing by pin in 28 seconds before winning the next four matches. He pinned Troy Moe of Buffalo in a minute, then pinned Ezra Hernandez of Riverton in the next match at 2:35, before pinning Hessten Haskins of Douglas in the consolation third round at 1:28.
Wrestling for a chance at third place, Heil was pinned by Cody’s Taylor Baggs, advancing instead to the fifth place match where he was pinned by Powell’s Weston Thomas at 51 seconds.
Keegan Stephenson fell in two rounds at 120 pounds for the Tigers. He was pinned by Jackson East of Newcastle/Upton in the opening round in 2:28, then made the third period but lost by pin at 4:37 to Braxton Steiner of Rawlins.
Paxton Rees opened with a pin over Owen Lundgren of Worland in 51 seconds, but dropped his next two matches, the first to Devin Weber of Wheatland in a close 9-7 decision, and the second to Worland’s Kyle Anderson by fall at 2:47, the match eliminated Rees.
“Landers on the map again and hope to continue to build this program to run with the elite 3A programs in the state,” Watson said.