Puncher boys’ wrestling team captures third at State

Libby Ngo photograph BPHS junior Jackie Meador’s hand is raised after winning the State Championship in the 113-pound bracket at the 2A Boys’ State Wrestling Championships on Saturday, Feb. 26. Meador earned 2A All-State honors for his accomplishment.

Girl grapplers make history, Meador earns championship

PINEDALE – The 2022-2023 high school wrestling season culminated in an historic and successful weekend for both the Big Piney High School Punchers’ boys’ and Lady Punchers’ girls’ wrestling teams at the 2023 State Tournament in Casper.

Five athletes represented Big Piney High School at the inaugural Girls’ State Wrestling Championships on Feb. 23-24 – seniors Enna Coote, Brynne Hoffman and Esther Van Grol, sophomore Charleigh Smith and freshman Catie Langlois.

Big Piney’s small but mighty girls’ team earned 24th place out of 42 teams, tallying 36 points. The Lady Punchers beat several teams from significantly larger schools, including Laramie, Lander, Cody, Riverton and Jackson.

“There were over 200 girls competing in two days at the first-ever girls’ state championships,” said Head Coach Cole Clifford. “The five from Big Piney did an amazing job. I was so proud of the girls for being the first to compete at State. They will have stories to share with their families for a lifetime.”

The Puncher boys’ wrestling team secured third place at the 2A Boys’ State Wrestling Championships on Feb. 24-25. Big Piney tallied 150 points, defeating 18 other teams.

The boys’ team set new records for the program at State.

“We placed nine wrestlers (in the boys’ championships) – that is a new team record,” said Coach Clifford. “Scoring 150 points is a new team record and placing third is the highest we have ever been. This is also our first trophy from State.”

Clifford expressed pride in the team’s performance at State and throughout the season.

“I really felt our team came out and wrestled well,” he said. “Each and every wrestler put in their best performances this week. It has been an outstanding year. I cannot say enough about this team and what they were able to accomplish. I want to compliment all of the 18 (boys) who qualified this week for the work they did to reach this platform.”

Big Piney High School junior Jackie Meador joined the roster of champions, snagging gold in the 113-pound bracket, along with 2A All-State honors.

Battling his way through the opening rounds, Meador progressed to the quarterfinals where he pinned Lovell’s Zayden Stahl 1 minute, 21 seconds into the match.

Advancing to the semifinals, Meador grappled with Josiah Stockwell, of Saratoga, through three close rounds, winning by a 1-0 decision.

On Saturday afternoon, Meador faced off against Grady Longwell of Glenrock. Meador won the first period, 4-0, with a takedown and nearfall. Longwell edged up in the second period, 6-2.

Determined to prevail, Meador pulled ahead in the third period, 4-0, to win the championship match by a 10-6 decision.

Senior Thomas Howard captured silver and 2A All-State honors in the 195-pound weight classification. Squaring off against Dane Connally, of Moorcroft, in the quarterfinals, Howard pinned his opponent at 3:12.

Moving up to the semifinals, Howard defeated Saratoga’s Quade Jordan by fall with 32 seconds left in the second period.

Girls’ State Championships

Smith bagged fourth place in the 155-pound bracket. She pinned Sheridan’s Eva Anderson with 31 seconds to spare in the third period of the quarterfinals. Smith went on to defeat Marty Dick, of Evanston, by fall 1:45 in the consolation semifinal.

Van Grol took fifth place at 170 pounds. Grappling her way through the consolation rounds, Van Grol pinned Rock Springs’ Hali Witt at 1:36 in the fifth-place match.

“Catie Langlois had probably one of the most exciting matches this week going into double overtime,” said Coach Clifford. “Brynne Hoffman worked very hard in her matches and fought ‘til the bitter end. Enna Coote showed so much improvement from the start of the year. Esther Van Grol was very aggressive in her matches and gave it her all. Charleigh Smith upset the No. 3 seed early on and placed fourth. Her growth this year was amazing and I am proud of her efforts.”

Boys’ State Championships

Senior Brandon Jones achieved third place at 160 pounds. He beat Grason Kelley, of Kemmerer, by a 7-1 decision in the third-place match.

In the 152-pound bracket, junior David Farrington earned third place. Fighting Chris Boardman, of Moorcroft, through three neck-and-neck periods and two overtime periods, Farrington ultimately won by a tiebreaker in the third overtime period.

Sophomore Caleb Brown secured third place in the 106-pound weight division. Brown pinned Moorcroft’s Kade Haynes at 4:24.

Junior Zack Murphy came in fourth place at 220 pounds.

In the 113-pound bracket, sophomore Dominic Sanchez took fourth place.

Freshman Zef Zuniga picked up fifth place at 220 pounds. Fellow freshman Nate Brown earned sixth place in the 120-pound bracket.