The Cheyenne Central wrestling team was fighting an uphill battle before the first match even started on Friday.

Down two wrestlers to the chicken pox and another two to broken hands, the Indians, thought to be team-title contenders, never really got going on the first day of the Wyoming State High School Wrestling Championships at the Casper Events Center.

"Two of those guys were big point scorers for us," Central coach T.J. Castillon said. "Not our varsity guys, but at the same time, they could've knocked some other guys off.

"And they were part of this team."

Castillon said the biggest loss was senior Dillon Karajanis at 135 pounds. Karajanis actually broke his hand two weeks ago and still wrestled on Friday, but dropped a 6-1 decision to Sheridan junior Trevor Goss.

The chicken pox knocked out 112-pounder Alex Brown, the Indians only wrestler in the weight class. Castillon said it was just the case of one thing happening after another.

"Losing those guys really put a damper on our immediate situation of having a chance to win it," he said.

But Central's misfortunes opened the door for Star Valley and Green River to enter the team race. Gillette still held a 124-98.5 over Star Valley through Friday's quarterfinals. Green River is in third place with 86.5 points.

"We're right where we hoped to be," Star Valley coach Eddie Clark said. "We wanted to be in the chase."

Clark said how the Braves fare in the semifinal matchups is key. Star Valley earned big quarterfinal head-to-head wins against the Camels at 152 and 215 pounds and face Gillette in four semifinal matches. The Braves also have two head-to-head meetings with Central and Green River each.

"That's what it boils down to," Clark said. "Now, we need to beat a few Central kids and a few Green River kids."

After winning the Ron Thon Invitational two weeks ago, the Indians were brimming with confidence. But that was until Gillette won last weekend's Class 4A East Regional by 70 points.

But there are still matches to be wrestled, even if the team hopes have faded.

"The guys that we have, we want them to perform," Castillon said. "We talked [Thursday] night about them having to step up now that we have those injuries and chicken pox.

"We're just going to have to wrestle our tails off on the backside."

Contact sports reporter Clint Robus at Clinton.robus@trib.com or (307) 266-0615. Read his blog at tribtown.trib.com/ClintRobus/blog

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