It was a weekend to remember for the Kemmerer High School wrestling teams, as the Rangers finished first and the Lady Rangers second at the Lander Valley Invitational Friday and Saturday.
The two teams combined to place 12 wrestlers on the podium, including six individual champions: Roany Proffit (126 pounds), Gabe Emery (145 pounds), Riggen Walker (152 pounds) and Landon Heaps (182 pounds) for the boys, and Kaylie Julander (140 pounds) and Nadia Runnion (190 pounds) for the girls.
“I think the kids are starting to come together more as a team – they’re battling for each other out there,” said KHS head coach Darrell Bullington. “Leaders are starting to lead a little bit better, and I think the competition we wrestled earlier this season is paying off now. We’ve never won this tournament over the 3A teams, so this is a big thing for us. We’re getting that competitive edge – steel sharpens steel, you know.”
On the boys’ side, Kemmerer won the team title in the 25-team field with 208.5 points, followed by Cody in second (191 points) and Green River in third (188.5 points). Pinedale (155) and Douglas (143.5) rounded out the Top 5.
Sophomore Roany Proffit continued his quest for a second consecutive 2A state championship, posting a 5-0 record en route to a first-place finish. Highlights included impressive wins over Pinedale’s Garrett Madole in the semifinals and Rawlins’ Zachary Covolo in the title match; Madole is currently ranked No. 4 in 3A, while Covolo is ranked No. 2.
At 145 pounds, Gabe Emery – ranked No. 1 in 2A – also went 5-0, pinning Cody’s Micah Grant in the semifinals, and winning a close 7-6 decision over Laramie’s Dakota Ledford – last year’s 4A State runner-up at 132 pounds – in the championship match.
Riggen Walker pinned his first four opponents at 152 pounds, setting up a title match against Cody’s Jackson Wood, who placed third at state last year. Walker – the defending 2A state champ at 145 pounds – won an 18-5 major decision.
At 182 pounds, Landon Heaps won by fall or technical fall over all five of his opponents, pinning Mountain View’s Tyson Muir in the first round of the semifinals, and Greybull/Riverside’s Ty Strohschein in just 34 seconds in the championship match.
Other placers for the Rangers included Karl Haslem, who finished third at 132 pounds, posting a 5-1 record. After falling to Rawlins’ Brayden Torstenbo 6-1 in the semifinals, Haslem pinned Lyman’s Eric Nelson in the consolation semis to advance to the third-place match, where he pinned Torrington’s Colby Sandusky. Ayden Kelley finished third at 138 pounds, winning a 13-9 decision over Douglas’ Tanner Johnson in the consolation semis, then beating Lander’s Hunter Velarde 6-5 in the third-place match.
Dylan Hagler and Tanner Schramm also made the podium: Hagler finished fourth at 195 pounds, while Schramm finished fifth at 170 pounds.
Rangers who won matches included Austin Christen at 113 pounds (1-2), Bridger Anderson at 145 pounds (2-3) and Grason Kelley (3-2).
On the girls’ side, Pinedale won the team title in the 24-team field with 97 points, followed by Kemmerer with 63 points. Green River was third with 50 points, followed by Worland with 48 points; Lyman rounded out the Top 5 with 47 points.
Four Lady Rangers earned a spot on the podium, led by champions Kaylie Julander at 140 pounds and Nadia Runnion at 190 pounds.
Julander posted a 4-0 record at 140 pounds, winning a 9-5 decision over Worland’s Lecsi Ramirez in the semifinals, and pinning Thermopolis’ Alix Sorensen in the championship match.
At 190 pounds, Runnion went 2-0, with back-to-back pins over Thermopolis’ Tera Kraushaar for the title.
Laynee Walker also had an outstanding tournament, rattling off three straight pins over Riverton’s Victoria Hatch, Green River’s Lily Harris and South’s Hannah Soden to advance to the championship match at 120 pounds. Against Jackson’s Tai McBride, Walker lost a close 6-3 decision to finish second for the tournament.
Kylee Batista placed fifth at 130 pounds, posting a 4-2 record. After winning a 9-2 decision over Big Piney’s Brynne Hoffman in the consolation round, Barista lost to Rawlins’ Kloey Walker in the consolation semis, dropping her to the fifth-place match. With a spot on the podium on the line, Batista won a 7-1 decision over Rawlins’ Karlee Lumpkins to finish fifth.