Herd goes the distance at state

Junior Paxton Piasecki runs a reverse half nelson on Jackson Hanusa of Rocky Mountain in the second consolation round, which Piasecki won by pin in the second period.  “I’m feeling better now, I’ve woken up,” he said after the match. (Zach Miners photo / The Glenrock Independent)

Zach Miners, zach@glenrockind.com

Hard work, perseverance pay off as five advance to final rounds

Glenrock wrestling coach Kjell Elisson has on occasion affectionately referred to his squad as his “small, scrappy team.” They may be small and scrappy, but at the state championships in Casper Feb. 25, they exhibited a strength and perseverance that belied their small size.

Ten members, or the vast majority of the team, representing nearly every weight class, competed against a range of tough 2A competitors including Big Piney, Cokeville, Lovell, Niobrara County, Saratoga, Shoshoni and others in the year-end competition.

Jake Coziahr, JD Holman, Talon Grannas, Preston Kelsey, Paxton Piasecki, Dustin Simmons, Richard Black, Corden Phillips, Lane Raney and Andrik Moreno all took to the mat with courage and determination to win.

Throughout the day, the Herders acknowledged the strength of their competitors, though they also showed they were willing to stop at nothing to put them down.

“We’re wrestling a lot of tough kids,” said junior Talon Grannas, following his win in the first round against Kaleb Gleim of Dubois. He succeeded in that match, he said, because he relied on his training, and the fact he employed a half-nelson.

The team, however, struggled in the semi-finals, and did not win any of their matches.

Of the 10 wrestlers competing, five advanced to the final round. They were Raney (182-pound class), Grannas (126), Simmons (145), Phillips (160), and Piasecki (138).

Ultimately, Raney placed fourth in his weight class, while Grannas, Simmons, Phillips and Piasecki all placed sixth in their respective weight classes.

As a team, Glenrock placed 13th overall, with 62 points.

Elisson said he was disappointed by the team’s performance in the semis, and the fact that none of the Herders won any of their final matches.

After the semis, “it was like our bubble popped, like our energy was gone,” he said.

But although the team placed far from first, it was not for a lack of solid effort. Elisson, and other members of the squad, coached and provided enthusiastic guidance to their teammates through grueling matches.

“Corden, when you do that you can’t roll over him, you gotta stay!” Dusty Cox yelled over the din of the crowd to Phillips during his match against Casen Hiser of Lovell in the quarter-finals.

“On your toes, on top!” Cox ordered him.

“Keep fighting, Corden!” Elisson yelled.

Phillips eventually won the match by pin in the third period.

It’s unclear how the Herders lost the momentum they seemed to have built up going into the finals. During the morning’s first round, members of the team at least appeared ready for their upcoming matches.

“I was nervous earlier, but not anymore,” senior Andrik Moreno said after his early win against Leo Lyons of Sundance. 

“This win has helped me with my confidence,” he said.


(Editor's note: Additional photos of the state wrestling tournament are available in the March 3, 2021 print edition of the Glenrock Independent, or in the e-edition online.)


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