NEWCASTLE – The Lingle-Fort Laramie Dogger grapplers competed in the Newcastle Invitational on Friday, taking 10th with 33 team points.
“This was a good little tournament for our guys,” coach Brandon Gifford said. “We were able to wrestle some different competition and see some bigger schools as well.”
Gaven Niles had the best finish for the Doggers on the day, taking second at 126 pounds. He had an opening round bye, before pinning Sheridan’s Zachary Dilloway at the 1:22 mark. In the first-place match, Niles was pinned by Carson Pinske (Lead) in the second period.
Zane Rising represented the Doggers at 145 pounds, where he started with a bye, before losing in the quarterfinal by an 11-4 decision against Sturgis’ Austin Permann. In the lower bracket, Rising rattled off two wins by besting Mitchell Amaechie (Rapid City Central) by a 15-0 technical fall and winning by 17-2 technical fall over Skylar Jenkins (Newcastle/Upton). The Dogger lost by an 8-4 decision in the consolation semi-finals against Lead’s Domenic Lucero. In the fifth-place match, Rising won by a 14-7 decision over Robert Merwin (Sturgis).
“I thought Gaven and Zane wrestled well and were able to take home medals,” Gifford said. “They are starting to figure out the last few areas where they need to improve for them to accomplish their goals, which is an exciting thing.”
As a transfer student from Nebraska, Dogger newcomer Joel Costello stepped into the fold this weekend at 106 pounds, posting a 2-2 record. He started with a pin in 15 seconds over Sheridan’s Drake Fisgus, before losing by an 18-3 technical fall against Kelton Olson (Sturgis). Costello went on to win in sudden victory over Jory McFarland, 9-7. His weekend ended in a 9-0 major decision loss against Sturgis’ Braden Temple.
“We are excited to have him and be able to work with him,” Gifford said of Costello. “He is buying into our process and will only get better throughout the rest of the year.”
At 220 pounds, Jessy Valentine got into the action for the first time this season, losing his first match against Hulett’s Sheldon Jolley by an 8-5 decision, before withdrawing from his next three matches, losing by medical forfeit.
Dustin Swartwood joined Rising at 145 pounds, posting an 0-2 record. He was pinned in the first period against both Alan Baker (Newcastle/Upton) and Jenkins. Alex Pugsley competed at 132 pounds, suffering pins in the first period against Thunder Basin’s Cameron Coody and Buffalo’s Tyerell Sickler.
The Doggers’ 33 points put them 10th. Buffalo took the top spot with 184 points, followed by Lead’s 173 points. Newcastle/Upton (130.5), Thunder Basin (117) and Sheridan (114) rounded out the top-five teams.
The Doggers return to action this weekend at home when they host the Dogger Invitational on Saturday in Lingle, starting at 8 a.m.
“We have a lot more work left to do, but our guys are working hard and slowly getting better,” Gifford said. “That is all you can ask as a coach.”