There’s no doubt whatsoever that Casper is a wrestling town. Nearly a full house over at Kelly Walsh took in the annual Miller Cup match between KW and Natrona that was won by NC. Each team had some great moments, and some matches were very, very good. When each kid in a match records a 3-point near fall and the match ends in a pin, that’s entertainment! The enthusiasm of the contestants and the fans is far better than a basketball game, and in most cases, football games. This is not a new phenomenon. The whole county has strongly supported wrestling for years and that includes our friends to the east in Glenrock. Casper has being going through a dry spell in terms of individual state champions but that could change this year.
Another shining example of how popular wrestling is in Casper was the 12th annual Sarah Tolin Tournament that was held at CY Junior High. The place was jam-packed with a total of 336 athletes from across the state with 800 matches contested. The wrestlers ranged from age 6 through 16, and yes, there was a 4-year-old out there. There’s no curbing your enthusiasm when it comes to an event like this. Those little kids really get after it, and the coaches may not have a voice when the day is over. Don and Vickie Tolin did a wonderful job putting that tournament together, and that’s not an easy thing to do. Casper has four separate wrestling clubs, which shows you the interest the sport has in town. The more the merrier, I guess.
Speaking of high school sports, the Casper Nordic ski teams competed in a huge event at Soldier Hollow in Utah last month. Soldier Hollow was an Olympic venue in 2002, and this event drew over 700 athletes. The Casper folks had some respectable performances considering there were close to 50 teams competing. Natrona and Kelly Walsh train together but compete separately, and 10 of them were named to the Wyoming team that will be in the U.S.S.A Junior Olympics that will be held in Telemark, Wisconsin, late this year. So congratulations to Jake Pearson, Christian Bjorklund, Adam Pickett, Trevor Johnson, Braxton DeVore and Lane Meyers who were selected for the boys team, while Kit-Kat Gruner, Maddy Tinker, Rylie Garner and Taylor Bright made the girls team.
The Casper Coyotes junior hockey team wrapped up their home regular season schedule, and the attendance is getting better. They drew 1,500 for Friday’s game at the Events Center with Ogden, Utah, which is really encouraging. 1,500 people won’t fit in the Ice Arena, so there’s growth right there. If the Coyotes can average 1,500 per game, that would be great. The in-game production has improved to provide a better fan experience, and the team is good. They’re among the top five teams in the Western States Hockey League, with the team returning to town for the league playoffs in March.