Wrestlers compete well at home invite

Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

Photo by Breeklee Loebs/For NLJ

Landon Norman was in a bit of a pickle in this match at the Dogie Invitational Friday. Norman went 2-1 in the 113-pound weight class to finish second at the tournament.


On Friday the 13th, the Newcastle/Upton wrestling team hosted the 13th Annual Newcastle Dogie Invitational, and it was a day full of action with a house full of wrestlers. There were 13 boys teams participating, which added up to 250 varsity wrestlers, and there were also 12 girls teams represented with 70 total grapplers. 

Head coach Lee McCoy’s boys finished sixth out of 13 teams, and all but one of those who scored more points were 4A squads. The girls ended up in ninth place out of 12 teams, despite the fact that there were only two girls representing the Dogies/Bobcats.

“The tournament went really well, and I was very happy with our kids,” began McCoy. “We wrestled well and we competed hard, so that was great to see.” 

There were two individual champions on the day as Haven Vrana won in the 106-pound weight class and Kyah Miller at 120. 

Vrana pinned his way into the finals match by sticking his first three opponents in 11 seconds, 24 seconds and 16 seconds, respectively. His Natrona County adversary put up a bit more of a fight in the title round by making Vrana work 1:49 before he got the pin. 

“Haven only spent a total of 2:30 minutes on the mat for the duration of the tournament,” McCoy said. “He
is just a sophomore with only one loss on his record, which was against a top ranked
4A kid.”

Miller only had two matches on the day. She pinned her first opponent from Sheridan in 2:21, then made quick work of her Thunder Basin opponent by pinning her in 40 seconds for the title.

“Kyah is on a roll and remains undefeated in the girls division,” McCoy said. “The first ever girls rankings came out last week and she is ranked second behind a Natrona wrestler, so I’m excited to see her continue to dominate.”

In addition to the champions, the Dogies/Bobcats had a couple of wrestlers place second, including Landon Norman at 113 and Jackson East at 120. Jacob Prell finished third at 182, Trey Schneider (126) and Casey Matthews (132) placed fifth, while Heath Henkle finished sixth at 285.

Courtney Matthews also placed by finishing fifth in the girls division when she defeated a Sheridan wrestler in the consolation championship match. 

“Landon lost to a pretty tough Sheridan kid in the finals, and, to be fair, it was a lot closer than the 7-2 score indicated,” said McCoy. “Jackson lost to returning 2A State Champ Nathan Fish from Lusk in the championship match. Jackson has three losses this season, and all of them are to Fish. It was a close match, 5-2, and was pretty exciting.”

Matthews, who is new to Newcastle High School this season, has been coming on for the Dogies, and according to McCoy seemed to really start to hit his stride at the tournament.

“Casey had a great tournament, and 132 is definitely one of the toughest weights in the state,” McCoy reported. “He has been struggling to find his groove in the last few weeks, but boy, he had a couple really good quality wins this weekend. He’s finding the right mix of intensity by pacing himself to stay in control, and I was really happy with what I saw out of him.”

“He’s a great kid and is one that any coach feels lucky to have on his team,” he continued. “He’s got a great attitude and has a great work ethic. It’s great to have a junior for the younger kids to look up to and to provide good leadership.”

Prell lost his only match of the day in the semi-finals in a close 2-0 decision against a Sheridan wrestler. He then went on to pin a Wright opponent in 4:33 for third place.

Schneider lost only one match on the day, but it happened to be in the quarter-final round, which knocked him into the consolation bracket. 

“Trey should have been in the finals. He was beating his kid pretty handily in the quarter-finals, but then got caught in a crazy move and gave up the pin,” McCoy explained. “He came through the wrestle backs to place fifth, so we were really happy about that.”

As a team, the boys won 25 of their 40 matches and several of the wins came about as a result of quick pins.  

“It’s nice to see some of our kids be so dominant, but it also worries me a little bit,” McCoy admitted. “We’ve got to get our kids into condition and we need to get them into the third period sometimes. If they don’t get that experience, it’ll get tough when they go up against tougher kids and the match gets into the third period.” 

In an attempt to provide the opportunity to build their stamina, McCoy explained that the coaches started making the wrestlers who finished their matches quickly do some sprints afterward to get an extra workout in. 

This week is a busy one for the Dogies/Bobcats. They got things started with a quad in Newcastle on Tuesday, then they will go to Moorcroft for a quad on Thursday and back to Moorcroft on Friday and Saturday for an invitational tournament. 

“We only have two days of practice and then we will spend the rest of the week ‘practicing’ in competition,” McCoy said. “But that is great because we need mat time. Our kids are starting to pick things up a little better so it will be great to get on the mat and keep sharpening their tools.”


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