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State Wrestling

Kelly Walsh's Analu Benabise points to the stands after winning the 138-pound title match of the Wyoming State High School Class 4A Championships on Feb. 24 at the Casper Events Center.

Nearly every wrestling team across the state had rebuilding to do over the offseason. Regardless of classification, teams lost key components to graduation, which leaves the 2018-19 season clouded by uncertainty.

Cheyenne East held off a charge by both Kelly Walsh and Thunder Basin for the Class 4A team title last year. Each one of those squads lose key contributors while returning promising grapplers. Star Valley loses a massive senior class from last year’s dominant 3A championship team. The Braves seem to only rebuild but even this year will be a task to hold off teams like Cody, Worland, Douglas and Powell. The same could be said for Moorcroft, which has become the perennial 2A favorite. The Wolves will be tested by upstarts in Kemmerer, Glenrock and Cokeville.

Each classification has its own hurdles and storylines. All but two state champions from Class 4A return to the mat this year. Star Valley loses all four of its state champions from last year, opening the door for the competition. And about half of the reigning 2A champions were underclassmen last year, putting the pressure on each one to repeat for at least one more season.

As always, each wrestler could move weight classes from where they competed last season.

Here’s a closer look at contenders in each classification and every weight:

Class 4A

Green River sophomore Dominic Martinez, the defending 106 champion, returns, but so does everyone else. Rock Springs sophomore Cash Christensen, Green River sophomore Clayson Mele and Kelly Walsh’s Lane Jackson all return as well. Then again, any of those returning to wrestle at 106 again remains an uncertainty. They could compete at 113 instead, where Sheridan sophomore Reese Osborne won gold by pinfall last year.

Reigning 120-pound champion Jace Palmer returns for a junior season. He’d be flanked by East junior Amos Solano, Natrona County sophomore Cyrus Meeks and Sheridan sophomore Hunter Goodwin. All made the semifinals at that weight last year and would be favorites to do so again. Moving up to 126 pounds would put them in the same bracket as Rock Springs senior and returning state champion Ashton Dupape.

Intrigue awaits at 132, where it could be another rematch of the thrilling final between Rock Springs senior Cameron Metcalf and Thunder Basin junior Warren Carr. There’s less pre-season excitement at 138, where Kelly Walsh sophomore Analu Benabise cruised to gold last year. And in the unlikely event no new contenders emerge at 145, Green River senior Tanner Adam stands as the favorite to win.

Evanston senior Saige Synan pulled the upset at 152 last year and he’d have to go through Rock Springs’ Tristan Profaizer and Sheridan’s Quinn Heynemann to do it again. Green River sophomore Jon Ty Leininger finished second last year at 160 and is the favorite if he wrestles there this year. The 170 class is up in the air with Thunder Basin’s Riley Mitchell the possible favorite. Thunder Basin senior and Wyoming commit Terren Swartz returns to defend his title at 195.

The stage is set for a possible dual between Laramie senior Zech Aguilar (returning champion) and Natrona County senior Yahav Shraiber at 220 pounds. Natrona County also returns the two finalists at 285, including champion Trevon Smith.

Class 3A

Pinedale sophomore Keegan Gehlhausen took 106 gold last year amid a field of classmates. He could move up to 113, which is up in the air after losing both finalists to graduation. Worland junior Dominic Hartley would be the top returner at 113, along with Star Valley senior Logan Hoopes. Newcastle sophomore Kale Corley made a championship run at 120 last year. He’d have to compete with Worland senior Adam Bankert and Star Valley senior Tristan Hicks to repeat that feat.

Lander senior Nathan Redman is the top returner at 126 pounds. Douglas senior Kadin Matthews made a run in the tournament last year and could provide competition for Redman again. Cody junior Zain Fitzgerald, Riverton junior Ridge Briggs and Lyman junior Hagen Lamoreaux all vie for the 132-pound crown. This season could see a rematch of last year’s championship at 138 as Powell senior Reese Karst and Torrington senior Tristen Kingsley each return.

Worland sophomore Luke Goncalves is the only returning semifinalist at 145. Powell junior and reigning 152-pound champion Brody Karhu also returns amid challengers in Douglas senior Christian Coffman and Star Valley senior Kodi Burk. With no returning champion at 160 pounds it could come down to Star Valley senior Koa DeLong and Douglas senior Dax Read. Powell junior Bo Dearcorn and Cody senior Josh Jones highlight an uncertain field at 170.

Returning 182-pound champion, Cody junior Charlie Beaudrie, should be back for 2018-19. The only other returning semifinalist at that weight would be Thermopolis sophomore Logan Cole. Douglas junior Cody Pinkerton stands as the favorite at 195 if he returns there. Buffalo junior Hunter Pope and Pinedale senior Kadar Criddle are favorites to meet in the 220-pound final. The field at 285 is wide open with possibly Pinedale’s Gage Northrup the top returner.

Class 2A

Champion at 106, Saratoga sophomore Justin Shotwell returns, as does the runner-up, Sundance junior Myles Stefanich. Glenrock senior Tate Stoddard will be back in 2018-19 after dominating at 113 last season. Kemmerer junior Dawson Schramm, last year’s 120-pound champion, also returns this season as the favorite. Shoshoni’s James Knigge and Lovell senior Alex Nicholson stand as wrestlers to watch at or near that weight as well.

The 126-pound crown is up for grabs with Wright’s Dax Yerardi the favorite. Kemmerer junior Colter Julian remains a threat as well. Cokeville senior Lochlyn Teichert (champion) and Kemmerer senior Carson Carlson wrestled in the 132-pound finals last year and return this season. Undefeated champion at 138, Kemmerer’s Donny Proffit will be back for a senior season. Cokeville senior Ammon Teichert may be the favorite to seize the open 145-pound crown. Or he could move up to the wide-open 152-pound range that lost its champion to graduation as well.

Moorcroft junior Rowdy Pfeil returns the favorite at 160, just like Kemmerer senior Hayden Walker does at 170. Both are defending champs. Glenrock’s Ian Arnold is the top returning threat at 182 along with Burns/Pine Bluffs’ Boe Clayson. Wright junior Phoenix Buske may be the top contender at 195 while 220-pound champion, Lovell junior Coy Trainor, and 285-pound champion, Big Piney senior Asencion Pelham, both return to defend their gold.

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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