The Douglas Bearcats wrestling team celebrated senior night Thursday night, honoring nine wrestlers and two team managers.
Reno Rich, Dawon Stinson, Devon Swisher, Bradyn Matthews, Cody Pinkerton, Joey Pinkerton, Edel Diaz-Jamie, Charlie Koss, Reid Foster, Abrielle Hoopman and Kota Provence were all recognized for the years they dedicated to the sport. They were flanked by parents and received by a line filled with coaches and younger wrestlers from USA wrestling that stretched the length of the gym floor.
For head coach Bob Bath, it was a special moment seeing kids he watched grow up participate in what will be one of their last gatherings as a group.
“It really means a lot to us as coaches who have worked with those kids for four years to get to that night and realize this is it,” Bath said. “The kids were excited, wrestled well and went out on a good note. It goes beyond wrestling though. You see them basically grow into men, and you hope that you had an impact on them and made a difference.”
Cody Pinkerton, who is on a fast track to become just the 11th wrestler from Douglas to win back-to-back state championships since 1982, said it was special to wrestle in front of the hometown fans one last time, despite only getting to participate in one match.
“It was a little emotional being the last time wrestling here at the school in front of all of your family and friends,” Cody said. “The competition wasn’t really there for us but it was fun to wrestle with these guys and include USA wrestling.”
Cody will finish as one of the best wrestlers in the school’s history. He has wrestled varsity all four years, named team captain for three of them, was named to three all-state teams, is a two-time state runner-up and a Wyoming 3A State Champion.
He will continue to wrestle at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota where he will pursue a degree in Special Education.
All the seniors mentioned they will take the work ethic and toughness wrestling taught them with them in life.
“Wrestling and hard work go hand-in-hand,” Matthews said. “There’s no way out of wrestling – it’s a mental hard sport – so it’s taught me to always work hard and things will pay off in the end.”
“It’s helped with my work ethic for sure,” Swisher added. “When I came in as a freshman I would just mess around and not really do anything. As the years have went on I’ve matured, learned how to work hard and what’s important. The sport has just been really good for me in general.”
The last memories fans have of this team will be positive ones. The team as a whole cruised through senior night winning all three of their matches in the quad, including an impressive 70-0 win against Rawlins.
It was a good tune up for the team heading into the final matches of the regular season and then regionals and State.
“We know we can beat anyone,” Swisher said. “Our biggest competition is going to be Star Valley and Worland, so we just have to go out there and wrestle and hope to do as well as we did Thursday night.”
Regardless of how the final weeks of the season go for this group of wrestlers, they have memories that will last forever.
“Douglas is known as the funny team,” Cody said. “That’s something I’ll miss, being around these guys and having fun and always laughing.”
The coach noted one last lesson to pass on to his seniors.
“The biggest advice I could give them is that you learned lessons in wrestling,” Bath said. “You may not have won all your matches or been a state champ, but you learned about dedication and responsibility. When you fall, work that much harder. After years of coaching that’s what it’s about. Teaching them things here that they can carry into life.”