Bulldogs finish with eight placers at Powell invite

Avery Layne

The Lovell Bulldogs kicked off their wrestling season by attending an invitational in Powell last weekend. The tournament hosted 21 teams from across Wyoming and parts of Montana for a chance to stand on top of a bracket.
“The team competed against 2A, 3A and 4A Wyoming teams,” coach Ty Hecker noted. On top of that, he mentioned that the Montanan teams that competed in this tournament had already experienced two weeks more of competition.
“We had some ups and downs, which is expected for the first tournament of the year,” Hecker said, “especially for a tournament of this caliber.” Instead of creating an initial bracket that could range from 15 to 30 kids per bracket, the Powell Invitational created eight-man brackets on Saturday using a round robin elimination method the day prior. Wrestlers would be sorted into an A, B, C or D subdivision of their weight classes to potentially secure a spot on the Saturday brackets.
After battling with fierce competition in the round robin elimination process all of Friday, 12 of the Lovell wrestlers secured a spot on the Saturday brackets. Varsity wrestlers Mason Christenson (138), Rudy Hall (190), Zayden Stahl (120), James Love (285) and Rosendo Garcia (285) claimed a spot in their respective brackets. JV wrestlers Hudson Mickelson (113), Talon Burton (138), Travis Asay (144) and Chance Hatch (150) also managed to drop into the second day. The female wrestlers, consisting of Cortni Knop (140), Maecie Joy (155) and Avery Layne (170), walked into the second day of the tournament ready to throw down. The Bulldogs managed to pull eight placers within the top five range by Saturday afternoon across all three teams.
Ending up on the opposite sides of the heavyweight bracket (285), seniors Love and Garcia blew through their competition and faced each other in the finals.
“We had two heavyweights in the finals, which is so impressive being at that big of a tournament,” Hecker said. “Rosendo ended up winning by one point (4-3), which made him our only champion of the tournament.”
Out of the rest of the varsity team, sophomore Christenson seated himself in third place after facing off against Landon Jones of Lander Valley High School in the 138-pound weight bracket. With what coach Hecker described as a fire this weekend, Christenson beat Jones by an 8-2 decision. Coach Hecker commented on his performance, saying, “I am super proud of him battling through tough matches,” adding, “At the end of the meet, Mason looked like he came from a wrestling tournament.” Hecker explained that Christenson’s face was banged up from all the work he was doing on the mat, adding, “That is how I think everyone should look after a tournament.”
Following the varsity boys team, the varsity girls team also pulled some placing matches. Knop entered the tournament in the 140-pound women’s weight division.
“This was Cortni’s first tournament back in two years,” Hecker said. “She wrestled tough. We just have to keep her out of head-and-arms.” After putting in hard work, Knop managed to claim fourth place.
“I was super proud of her, and I have super high expectations heading into the rest of the season,” Hecker said.
Similarly, Layne also managed to take fourth place in the 170-pound women’s weight class.
“Avery showed a side of herself I haven’t seen since her freshman year,” Hecker said. “She is finally finding the confidence in herself that she needed.” He also mentioned that all the hard work in the offseason is starting to pay off for her, adding, “She picked up some big wins, and if she can believe in herself, she’ll have a very successful year.”
Joy, competing in the 155-pound women’s division, secured fifth place after taking out Haylee Blomberg of Campbell County.
“Maecie’s dedication to wrestling has now made her a winning wrestler. She picked up some hard fought, grit filled wins this weekend,” Hecker said. Hecker stated his enthusiasm for Joy to continue throughout the season, saying, “I can’t be more proud of Maecie, but it doesn’t end here. We have big plans for her this season.”
The competitors in junior varsity also managed to pull a few placing matches in the face of adversity.
“The JV kids had a tough tournament with over 260 wrestlers,” Hecker said. “Our younger kids wrestled tough and picked up a lot of significant wins.”
Junior Burton kept his eye on the prize this weekend after coming in second in the 138-pound JV division.
“Talon has returned to our team with a rejuvenated effort, and it shows. He picked up some big wins to place him in second,” Hecker said.
Mickelson also managed to place third in the 113-pound JV weight class. He faced off against Karys Bennett of Laurel High School for a chance to claim third place and won the match by a 6-3 decision.
Following the results of the Powell Invitational, Coach Hecker had some comments to add as the Bulldogs prepare to face their next competition.
“We are headed back to work in the room this week, focusing on top and bottom positioning,” he said. “Also, we are improving the team’s mindset to be hammers inside the practice room and on the competition mat.”
This weekend the Bulldogs will head to Worland to compete in a two-day duals tournament, facing off against a variety of teams from across Wyoming. The duals will begin on Friday at 1 p.m. in the Worland High School Gymnasium.
“As a coach I couldn’t be any happier for my team,” Hecker concluded. “We have a long way to go, but if the team is willing to follow, I will take them there.”