Following another weekend of national wrestling tournaments, two Wyoming high school wrestlers returned home to give the Equality State three total All-Americans this off-season.
Kelly Walsh's Analu Benabise and Kemmerer's Hayden Walker both returned from the 2019 NHSCA High School Nationals in Virginia Beach, Virginia, after earning sixth-place finishes in their respective divisions on Sunday. Their medals, coupled with the third-place medal Powell's Emma Karhu earned the previous weekend at the USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle Nationals in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, gives the state three All-American honorees so far.
Benabise lost by a gut-wrenching 6-5 decision in the fifth-place 145-pound match, sophomore division. The two-time defending state champion took a 4-2 lead early in the second period before falling behind 6-4 in just a 9-second span. Benabise scored an escape a minute later but couldn't score score anymore against Gavin Quiocho of West Virginia, ranked No. 13. Benabise finished the weekend 7-3.
Walker, who earned the No. 13 ranking at the tournament, lost his fifth-place match to unranked Dillyn Miller of Nebraska by 13-4 major decision. Walker, a three-time state champion, fell behind quickly on three separate first-period takedowns. Miller notched three additional takedowns in the second period and by that point the match was in-hand. Miller knocked Walker out of the championship round on the first day of competition with an 8-6 sudden victory. Walker went 7-3 on the weekend.
Powell sophomore Karhu earned a bronze medal and All-American honors the weekend prior, the first of her career at the USA Wrestling Girls Folkstyle Nationals. Karhu completed a 4-1 weekend, losing only in the semifinals, with a 5-0 decision in the third-place match. Karhu, who wrestled in the 117-pound U16 division, joins Moorcroft's Charmayne DeLong and Buffalo's Jenna Elmlinger as female All-American wrestlers from Wyoming since 2015.
More Wyomingites could attain All-American honors at national tournaments throughout the summer.