Kemmerer wrestling first at regional competition

The Kemmerer wrestlers won the regional competition. // By Jaime Walker.

Kemmerer Ranger wrestling had a great showing at regionals Saturday, Feb. 20, in Big Piney. The Rangers had a fantastic tournament coming home as the 2021 2A Southwest Regional champions.

The state-qualifying tournament was a close battle between Kemmerer and Cokeville with pivotal matches swinging both directions throughout the tournament. The result were uncertain all the way up until the second-to-last bout of the day, but the Rangers emerged with a final score of 186.5, while the Panthers ended on 185 points. Other team participants (in their order of finish) included Wind River (170), Big Piney (116), Dubois (83), and Wyoming Indian (0).

Karl Haslem, Mont Haslem, Connor Vickery, Gabe Emery, Ayden Kelly, Riggen Walker, Caysen Smith, AQ Peternal and Dylan Hagler, all wrestled tough matches throughout the tournament, earning their way into the finals.

Kemmerer ended the day with five regional champions. The Rangers’ first champion was  sophomore Karl Haslem, wrestling at 106 pounds. Karl pinned his opponent in the second round of the championship bout. Junior Connor Vickery, wrestling at 120 pounds, added to the team totals by pinning through his first 2 matches to get to his final match. In the finals, he defeated his opponent 3-0. Freshman Gabe Emery, at 126 pounds, pinned in the semi-finals match. Gabe’s championship bout was a memorable one. He reversed his opponent straight to his back and got the pin in the first period. At 145 pounds, Riggen Walker pinned his two first matches and got a tech fall in his semi-final match. In the finals, Riggen wrestled a technically dominant match on the way to a 9-3 victory. Senior AQ Peternal won the title at 170 pounds. AQ pinned his first match and won his finals match by an 11-4 decision. 

Mont Haslem, a sophomore at 113 pounds, had an amazing day, earning a second-place finish. Kemmerer’s 132-pound Junior, Ayden Kelly, also wrestled tough; making it to the finals after working through the semi-finals winning a pivotal matchup 5-3. The Rangers’ other senior, Caysen Smith, won his semi-finals matchup 15-8 and brought home a second place finish. Dylan Hagler, a freshman at 195 pounds, wrestled well and earned his spot at second place after fighting through a gritty semi-final match where he won by one point, 13-12.

Zach Julian, a junior at 126 lbs, fought his way through the bracket to earn a third place medal. Jon Platt, a sophomore wrestling at 285 lbs, took third place on Saturday after pinning in his semi-finals match. The clock was running down to its last seconds as Jon pushed through to get the pin. Freshman Tyler Mckane wrestled his best at regionals to get a spot on the podium to be able to go to the state tournament this upcoming weekend. Tanner Schramm, Abel Alvarado, Brace Vickery and Zak Malone wrestled a tough tournament but fell just short of placing.

The Kemmerer Rangers had an outstanding performance down in Big Piney at regionals. As a team, they had the ability to come back to their hometown with the honor of being a part of the Kemmerer Ranger wrestling program. They are pumped and ready to head to the state tournament Thursday, Feb. 25, in Casper. You can follow the Rangers and their results on trackwrestling.com by searching the tournaments for the WHSAA State Championships. Additionally, matches will be broadcast for viewing on the NFHS network this Thursday.

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