Love becomes first Bulldog in 10 years to secure Ron Thon belt

Avery Layne

Traveling to Riverton to compete at the tournament that mixes all classes of wrestling, one Bulldog reigned over his bracket as a Ron Thon Memorial Tournament champion. James Love, a senior at Lovell High School, entered the tournament ready to face any opponent that stood in his way of the belt.
“Love wrestled through the biggest tournament of the year without allowing a point to be scored on him,” said head wrestling coach Ty Hecker.
Love went 4-0 in the tournament, defeating wrestlers from Pinedale and Cody to land him in the semifinals. Going toe to toe with Zaryc Prosser of Riverton, Love managed to pin Prosser 25 seconds into the third period. Not only did this pin launch
Love into the finals, but it also marked his 100th career pin.
Love entered the finals focused on winning, facing off against Josef Sanchez of Natrona County. The match lasted all three periods. After neither managed to score in the first period, Love chose bottom in the second and turned it around on Sanchez, gaining a one-point escape. Love wrestled tough on top in the third period. In the final seconds of the match, Love turned Sanchez on his shoulders but did not score a near-fall as the final period ended.
Winning by a 1-0 decision, Love became the first Ron Thon boys champion from Lovell in 10 years.
“James has two goals this year in wrestling. One was to be a Ron Thon champion, and the second is to be a state champion,” explained Hecker. “One has been accomplished, and the vision quest for State has begun.”
“It feels like I have done everything right to get here,” Love said, expressing his gratitude. “I would like to thank my mom, my coach Ty Hecker and my friends for pushing me to do better and keep me going. Stay humble through your triumphs.”
“The rest of the team had a rough outing, some due to illnesses and others young mistakes,” Hecker said. Despite the Bulldogs not securing any other placers, Hecker wanted to highlight a couple of wrestlers who he thought performed well.
Hecker mentioned that Maecie Joy wrestled tough this weekend, noting, “Maecie wrestled great; she wrestled the best match I’ve ever seen from her by hitting two ankle picks in the biggest tournament of the year.”
Hecker also highlighted freshman Chance Hatch, explaining how well he wrestled on the JV side.
“Chance is a tough freshman who has a bright future in this sport,” Hecker said.
This week the Bulldogs will host two home duals at the Johnny Winterholler Gymnasium. On Thursday, the team will welcome the Powell Panthers on their home mat at 6 p.m. for a dual. Friday, the team will host Tongue River/Big Horn at 6 p.m.
Friday night will also be the team’s senior night, highlighting seniors Carson Asay, JD Rodriguez, Love, Rosendo Garcia, Michael Harris and manager Croix Tryon.
Afterwards, the Bulldogs will spend their Saturday at the Greybull Memorial tournament, starting at 10 a.m.
“We will be looking to improve and get over some injuries and illnesses,” Hecker said, looking to go into the weekend with a strong team.