Glenrock seniors Tate Stoddard and Ian Arnold knew right where to look after winning their state wrestling championships Saturday.
Both celebrated on the Class 2A mat before turning to the northwest corner of the Casper Events Center and facing the large contingent of purple-clad Glenrock fans seated in the stands.
“I’ve been wrestling for 14 years for the town of Glenrock,” Arnold said. “It honestly means a lot to me that I could bring home a state championship because I love Glenrock to death.”
Arnold was able to cross two things off his to-do list Saturday. He not only pinned Moorcroft’s Rowdy Pfeil in their 182-pound match after losing to the defending state champ twice this season, but he won his first state title after finishing second last year and third as a sophomore.
“I felt like I had a good chance to get to the finals,” Arnold said, “and once I did I wanted to get revenge.”
Arnold celebrated with head coach Nic Dillon before running into the stands to share his excitement with his family. He was asked who he celebrated with.
“My mom, my dad, my girlfriend, my grandparents, my aunt, my uncle, everybody there,” he said with a smile.
For Stoddard, it was his fourth consecutive title at 113 pounds, making him the first Herder to join the exclusive Four-Timers Club.
“We’ve obviously had some great wrestlers in the past, but Tate kind of caps it all off,” Dillon said. “He’s the dude. He’s got 205 wins, and about 170 of those were pins. He’s just the guy that goes out there and gets it done every year.”
After earning a technical fall over Southeast’s Brock Blevins, Stoddard ripped off his ankle wrap, threw it in the air and pretended to hit it into the stands. He then flexed while holding up four fingers on both hands and yelling “Four!” toward the Glenrock fans.
In addition to being one of just 24 wrestlers from Wyoming to win four state titles — Kemmerer’s Donny Proffit joined the club about an hour later — Stoddard became the first to win four at the same weight class.
“It’s hard to find the words to describe it,” he said. “I wouldn’t have done it without those past guys … they are the ones who pushed me.”
And one of them, three-time champ Joe Taylor, was directly responsible for Stoddard winning his first state title.
“Tate came in between his eighth- and ninth-grade years and he only weighed about 93 pounds,” Dillon said. “We didn’t know if he was even get to 100 pounds so he could wrestle (varsity). But all summer he worked to get that weight up.
“And he was having a great season, but about halfway through Joe Taylor saw that he felt more competitive at 106 with his style, so that gave us two guys there.”
Rather than having two competitive wrestlers in the same weight class, it was determined that whoever won between Taylor and Stoddard at the Lander Invite that year would wrestle at 106, with the other moving up to 113. Taylor won the match, but in the end it was the Herders who benefited.
“Once he lost to Joe and I told him he was going up (to 113), he said, ‘OK. I got this. I’ll do it,’” Dillon said. “He went out and won the state title at 113 pounds and it’s history now.”
Combined with Joe Taylor winning at 106 and Jackson Taylor winning his third state title at 126, Glenrock finished fourth in the 2016 Class 3A team standings. Reclassification dropped the Herders down to 2A the following year.
In 2016, Stoddard was not only a freshman competing in his first state tournament, but Dillon figures Stoddard weighed about 104 pounds at the time.
“I’ll be honest,” Dillon said. “I never expected him to win that first one. The kid he wrestled in the finals was bigger but we felt like we had a good game plan and Tate executed it perfectly.”
Dillon shouldn’t have been surprised. Stoddard has always trusted Dillon.
“Nic is like my second dad,” Stoddard said. “He is a person who has had a lot of influence on my life. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without him.”
And Glenrock wrestling wouldn’t have finished second the previous two years and third this year, without Dillon, Stoddard and Arnold. Also Saturday, seniors Brysen Collier and Zane Moore and junior Noah Halsey finished second, while sophomore Dustin Simmons placed fifth.
“It was kind of an up-and-down season for us,” Dillon said. “We had our high points and we had our low points. These guys have outstanding leadership, though, they’ve learned from the past and they stepped it up.”
And doing it in front of their friends and family at the Events Center made it even more special.
“It shows that we’re a tiny 2A town, but we have a fighting chance in our sports,” Stoddard said.