DAYTON — In the Tongue River High School wrestling team’s final dual of Friday afternoon against Wright High School, the undefeated Eagles and several Big Horn wrestlers who wear green and white during wrestling season matched up against the similarly undefeated Wright Panthers. Tongue River fatigue and Wright experience decided the matches, and the Eagles and Rams lost 64-18.
Tongue River had already beaten Moorcroft and Hulett and several Sundance wrestlers who joined both Moorcroft or Hulett in various weight classes. The Eagles and Rams defeated the Wolves 42-33 and the Bulldogs 52-30 before facing the Panthers, and Tongue River’s head wrestling coach CJ Scholl told his team to never be satisfied with its previous wins.
Though the final dual of the back-to-back-to-back conference competition didn’t end the way the Eagles and Rams would have preferred, it sets the Tongue River wrestling team up for success as it competes in regionals against the same teams next weekend. Both Friday’s duals and next Saturday’s 2A Northeast regional prepare the team for the 2A state competition Feb. 25.
“We still have yet to wrestle our best,” Scholl said. “And we still have two weeks left. We’re really excited about what some of our boys can potentially get done and see if we can make any surprises at state.”
Several of the matches throughout the afternoon looked evenly matched, though Scholl and Tongue River teammates shouted instructions from the side of the mat. The encouragement often took the form of technique suggestions, a testament to the wrestler’s youth.
Nevertheless, the growth that can occur over the next two weeks in preparation for the regional and state competition excites the wrestlers and Tongue River coaching staff.
“There’s no secret move, there’s no magic monkeys,” Scholl said. “We are just going to focus on them and getting them to be the best versions of themselves.”
Though Friday’s victories and the tough defeat defined the afternoon, so did the Tongue River program’s three seniors. The Eagles recognized Zach Cook, Hunter O’Neal and Luke Singer prior to the team’s matches against Wright.
Cook and Singer have wrestled with the Eagles since the program’s inception three years ago, and Cook has wrestled for the program for the past two years. Scholl said the brief ceremony pre-dual and Wright’s experience excites his younger team about its future wrestling as upperclassmen.
Sophomore Aidan Collingwood wrestled through three longer matches, winning his first match against Moorcroft just before the end of the first period and winning by major decision in his second match against Hulett. Collingwood battled his Wright opponent to the waning seconds of the third period before losing by pin with 36 seconds left.
When asked how Collingwood persevered during tiredness and the longer matches, he said he thought of the seniors.
“They really put a lot of work in,” Collingwood said. “I wanted to help them go out with a win.”
Fellow sophomore AJ Moline, a Big Horn Ram who wrestles with the Eagles’ program, finished the day as the only Tongue River wrestler with three wins, which serves as a boost of confidence as he will face his opponents again next Saturday. But Moline highlighted the wrestlers growing closer together as the biggest improvement this season.
When junior Wyatt Barnes lost a particularly close and tough match against Wright, Moline said the team immediately supported the disappointed wrestler by giving him space or offering words of encouragement. Tongue River will use that camaraderie to fuel its intensity next week during practice as it prepares for the postseason.
“We’re going to regroup and say, ‘Hey boys, what do we have to do?’” Scholl said. “This is a great preview for regionals, and if you want to be regional champs, if you want to go to state, now you know who you have to beat. … You know what you have to do. Now it’s just executing.”
The Eagles travel to Moorcroft for their regional competition next Saturday.
Below are the full results from Tongue River’s conference duals:
Tongue River vs. Moorcroft/Sundance, 42-33
106 — Wyatt Cook (Moorcroft) over Logan Smith by pin (0:54)
113 — Sean Buckmiller (Moorcroft) over Connor Morris by pin (1:20)
120 — Aidan Collingwood over Tucker Cook by pin (3:57)
126 — Trenton Sheehan (Moorcroft) over Payton Bastrom by pin (1:43)
132 — Aausten Sticka over Jacob Anderson by pin (1:51)
138 — Randy Peters (Moorcroft) over Hunter O’Neal by pin (3:44)
145 — AJ Moline over Spencer Cuthrell by pin (3:57)
152 — Wyatt Barnes over James Long by pin (3:26)
160 — Zach Cook over Sterling Norris by pin (1:56)
170 — Hunter Garoutte (Moorcroft) over Noah Manevul by pin (0:51)
182 — Dekken Mayer (Moorcroft) over Luke Singer by decision (7-4)
195 — Leo Lyons (Sundance) over Riley Bass by pin (1:24)
220 — Roman Hrek (Sundance) by forfeit
285 — Jacob Knobloch over Dawson Flahaven by pin (1:33)
Tongue River vs. Hulett/Sundance, 52-30
106 — Logan Smith by forfeit
113 — Connor Morris over Zach Duvall by pin (3:16)
120 — Aidan Collingwood over Wyatt Pennington by major decision (12-0)
126 — Payton Bastrom by forfeit
132 — Deonte Taylor (Hulett) over Aausten Sticka by pin (2:12)
138 — Hunter O’Neal by forfeit
145 — AJ Moline over Eddie Tokarczyk by pin (2:47)
152 — Wyatt Barnes by forfeit
160 — Joseph Kennah (Hulett) over Zach Cook by pin (3:42)
170 — Noah Manevul by forfeit
182 — Luke Singer by forfeit
195 — Isaac Welch (Hulett) over Riley Bass by pin (0:20)
220 — Christian Reilly (Hulett) by forfeit
285 — Sheldon Jolley over Jacob Knobloch by pin (0:41)
Tongue River vs. Wright, 64-18 (complete scores were unavailable at press time)
106 — Wright over Logan Smith by pin (2:34)
120 — Wright over Aidan Collingwood by pin (5:24)
126 — Wright over Payton Bastrom by pin (0:53)
132 — Wright over Aausten Sticka by pin (3:42)
138 — Wright over Hunter O’Neal by pin (1:15)
145 — AJ Moline over Wright by pin (0:14)
152 — Wright over Wyatt Barnes by decision (11-3)
160 — Wright over Zach Cook by pin (1:02)
170 — Wright over Noah Manevul by pin (1:05)
182 — Wright over Luke Singer by pin (0:35)
195 — Wright over Riley Bass by pin
220 — Wright by forfeit
285 — Jacob Knobloch by forfeit