Hungry for a belt
Tata Stoddard doesn't hold back when against this Lusk Tiger. Glenrock dominated the Tigers on teh mat Jan. 26
For those who don’t follow high school wrestling, the Ron Thon doesn’t mean much. But in the world of wrestling, it is sometimes known as the “real state
The competition is held in Riverton just weeks before regionals and State each year, but it brings a prestige that doesn’t come with a state championship. That means, it is this weekend.
“It’s a lot tougher than State,” wrestler Tate Stoddard said. “It’s all classes mixed together.” The tournament will host 47 teams this year, five more than last year, and they range from 2A through 4A. It’s one of the only opportunities for a 2A wrestler to show his mettle against nearly every other wrestler in the state, including those 3A and 4A grapplers who they won’t face in regionals or at State.
“If you win at Ron Thon, you really are considered the best in the state for your weight, at least the best that week,” Stoddard said. Stoddard is hoping to bring home the coveted belt this weekend.
“I think there is only one person that stands in my way,” Stoddard said Tuesday after the Herders thoroughly trounced Wheatland 63-18. “Brian Crawford from Rocky Mountain is in my weight class this year.”
Crawford was the state champion last year at 106. This year, he bumped up to 113, putting him in Stoddard’s weight class. “I have been working for that belt,” Stoddard said. “I am going to do my best to bring it home.” The team as a whole is looking to show its strength this year at the Ron Thon Memorial Invitational by putting Glenrock near the top of the points board.
“I am expecting to be in the top 10 teams this weekend, but (I am) hoping for the top five,” coach Nik Dillon said.
Last year, the Herders tied at 15th with Douglas in a field of 42 teams. With five more teams coming this weekend, the Herders are hoping to move up five or even 10 spots from last year. The lofty goal may be possible, but one of the few Herders to ever earn a Ron Thon belt may be missing the event. Joe Taylor, is nursing an injured knee and waiting to announce his attendance based on an upcoming medical exam.
“If Joe doesn’t make it, we will just need some of the others to step up,” Dillon said with a confident smile, as if to say he trusts his team to make up the points that may be lost by Taylor’s absence.
In the last few weeks alone, Glenrock has racked up a pile of wins. Taylor and Stoddard both have won events outright.
Jadon Williams earned second places, and Garrett Schwindt and Cooper Fargen have each grabbed a third.
Zane Moore, Brysen Collier, TJ Kraft, Ian Arnold, Isak Ellisson and Kai Sexson have all recently finished in the top six.
The way the Herders are tearing through competition and beating even much bigger 4A schools, some believe they may upset the Moorcroft wrestling juggernaut that has held the 2A state title for several years.
The Herders will face Newcastle in the GHS gym at 5 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 2) before heading to the Ron Thon Memorial Invitational Friday.