The Wyoming high school wrestling season typically consists of four landmark events. It begins with the Charlie Lake Invitational at Cheyenne East in the season’s opening week and continues on the other side of the New Year with what arrives this weekend: the annual Shane Shatto Memorial Invitational.
The 2019 incarnation of that gathering in Douglas looks intriguing. Storylines going into the tournament include returning champions, some searching for landmark victories and a potentially intriguing team race.
Teams have been confirmed for this weekend’s invitational but individual wrestlers will not be known at specific weight classes until after weigh-ins are completed closer to the opening whistles. That forces an outlook too foggy for predictions, all while creating more intrigue.
Kelly Walsh’s promising start to the season has the Trojans optimistic for Shatto gold. Cheyenne East finished just behind the Trojans at the Charlie Lake Invitational in December and could leapfrog Kelly Walsh this weekend. Then there’s a swath of outside candidates like Thunder Basin, Natrona County, Torrington, Buffalo and host Douglas.
Each one of those teams, and those also competing but not mentioned above, have standout individuals who could gain a momentous finish at one of the Wyoming’s longest-running annual meets.
The field at 106 pounds is fuzzy, due to its nature of the lightest weight class predominantly occupied by freshmen. But of the known field Cheyenne East’s Landon Trujillo stands as a favorite to compete for gold. Trujillo previously took second at the Charlie Lake Invitational. Kelly Walsh’s Gavin Mancini could also vie for the gold.
Kelly Walsh’s Lane Jackson and Thunder Basin’s Jeric Igo are two favorites to meet for championship at 113. Glenrock’s Tate Stoddard, who won the Shatto at 113 last year and has finished no worse than second at the meet in his high school career, has wrestled at 120 pounds so far this year, but remains the top-ranked wrestler at 113 in Class 2A. He’d be likely to wrestle for a weekend championship at either weight. The field at 120 remains murky with Riverton’s Brady Stingley, No. 2-ranked at that weight in 3A, another podium threat.
East junior Amos Solano, who took second at last year’s Shatto before winning the 113-pound state title, is the top-ranked wrestler at 126 and a strong candidate to win his first Shatto championship.
The 132-pound class could be the most interesting. Kelly Walsh’s Jace Palmer is the closest thing to a favorite while Sheridan’s Reese Osborne, East’s Shawn Smith, Newcastle’s Kale Corley and Douglas’ Kadin Matthews also could find themselves in the conversation. Palmer won the Charlie Lake and took third at the prestigious North Colorado Christmas Tournament.
Lander’s Nathan Redman, looking to improve from last year’s second-place finish, could be a dark horse at 138. Standing in his way are Kelly Walsh’s Josh Kraus and Glenrock’s Brysen Collier. Returning champion at 138, Kelly Walsh’s Analu Benabise, has wrestled at 145 this year with just as much success and enters as the odds-on favorite for a second championship.
Ridge Briggs of Riverton, Thunder Basin’s Warren Carr and Buffalo’s Clay Reiner stand as the top three candidates in the 152-pound field. Briggs took third and Carr took second at last year’s state tournament. Carr, however, did win last year’s Shatto Invite at 132 pounds.
East’s Jackson Hesford and Torrington’s Tristan Kingsley could put on a show at 160 as the top two contenders. Boe Clayson (Burns), Riley Mitchell (Thunder Basin), Kole Kraus (Kelly Walsh) and Drake DeCastro (Sheridan) are the top names in the 170-pound field thus far. Clayson comes off a second-place finish at the Charlie Lake.
The 182-pound championship is shaping up to be a battle between Glenrock’s Ian Arnold and Kelly Walsh’s Luke Nathan. Arnold won the Charlie Lake at 182 earlier this year while Nathan took third. The 195-pound field gives opportunity to small-school wrestlers. Southeast’s Tate Carson comes off his victory at the Charlie Lake and Lusk’s Jasper Caldera might be his biggest threat this weekend.
Cody Pinkerton of Douglas, Natrona County’s Yahav Shraiber, Terren Swartz of Thunder Basin and Kelly Walsh’s Jesus Alvarado make up a strong field at 220. Shraiber won the 2018 Shatto at that weight while Pinkerton won at the Charlie Lake this year. Swartz, a University of Wyoming signee, took second at 195 in last year’s Shatto before winning the state championship. Swartz previously won the Shatto at 195 pounds as a freshman and sophomore at Gillette.
Finally, the Natrona County heavyweight duo of Trevon Smith and Tom Parke are expected to face challenges from Torrington’s Brandon Bennick and Buffalo’s Hunter Pope.