Jeric Igo of Thunder Basin lifted Bearcat Luke Ewing over his shoulders in a tremendous display of brute force. The grueling match lasted for nearly 10 minutes, extending through all three periods.
Igo was in control and ultimately won the match 11-4, but when Ewing deftly maneuvered himself out of Igo’s grip in the third period, the hometown Douglas crowd roared.
Despite the loss, Ewing viewed the match in a positive light.
“I feel great,” he said. “He beat me by 10 last time, and now only by 7.”
The show-pleasing match was just one of many highlights during the Bearcats’ series of duals and matches against six other schools in the two-day Shane Shatto Memorial invitational Jan. 8-9, long considered one of the most important, and largest, wrestling tournaments of the regular season and often a precursor to the state matchups at some key weights.
As a team, however, this year’s invitational offers less insight to how state may turn out as larger schools from 4A came to Douglas only to hit the Cat wall. The Bearcats defeated Gillette’s Thunder Basin 33-32, Campbell County 72-6, Cheyenne East 35-34, Kelly Walsh 54-18 and Cheyenne Central 66-12, losing only to Sheridan 48-18.
The tournament is held in honor of Shane Shatto, who, as a University of Wyoming cross-country runner, was killed by a drunk driver along with seven other UW teammates in 2001.
The event was smaller and restructured this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Typically held as an individual tournament with more than 20 teams, this year the event was limited to only nine teams in a dual-type format. Attendance in the main gym of the Douglas Recreation Center was limited to 100 spectators.
“Usually this place is packed,” head coach Bob Bath said prior to the start of the event on Jan. 8. Still, “we’re just glad to be wrestling.”
But despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Bearcat wrestlers maintained a positive mindset, often focusing, like Ewing, on wins both big and small.
“I’ve finally won a match this year,” said freshman Teigan Boyson, following his win against sophomore Angel Ontiveros of Thunder Basin.
“I just wanted to get him down,” Boyson said, who also said that the season, overall, has “been amazing.”
“We’ve been facing lots of good competitors,” he said between breaths.
Junior Grant Igo also congratulated himself on his first win of the season, against Koen Teeter of Thunder Basin.
Igo attributed his win to a cradle he pulled off in the second period.
“I’m glad I finally got it,” he said.
Bath also made a point to call out the strength of the Cats’ competitors at the event.
“These were some of the top 4A teams in the state,” he said. “These are the competitors we want to have now.”
Bath also called out the performances of senior Nycholas Melchor and sophomore Lane Ewing, who went undefeated during the weekend.
The Bearcats are next scheduled to compete against Kelly Walsh, Star Valley, Cody, Thunder Basin, North Platte, Nebraska, and Natrona County at Kelly Walsh High School and at Natrona County High School in Casper on Jan. 15-16.