Hear Me Out...Recapping the 2018-19 high school sports season
May 30, 2019
I haven't recapped the high school athletic season for a column yet, which is a huge oversight on my part. Having an annual guaranteed column idea is immensely valuable, of course, going over the year's athletic highlights is more important than Hear Me Out column topics, but still nice to have a guaranteed annual column.
My narcissism aside, it was another eventful 2018-19 high school sports season. The athletes in Ten Sleep, Thermopolis and Worland achieved so much this school year and there's a lot to get to.
Just before we get started, this is not a rankings list and the order is meaningless. Not every highlight is going to have the same amount of words but that doesn't diminish its significance by any means. And apologies ahead, for anyone or team that I forget to mention.
Now, I think I've covered all the bases, let's get to it.
STATE WRESTLING CHAMPIONS: WORLAND'S LUKE GONCALVES WINS THE 3A 160-POUND TITLE AND THERMOPOLIS' LOGAN COLE WINS AT THE 2A 220-POUND TITLE
What's not to love about a comeback story?
An injury in football caused Goncalves, a sophomore, to miss most of the wrestling season but when he came back, he was back with a vengeance. He only lost once this season, to Torrington's Jacob Pollkowske at the 3A East regional tournament. But he got his revenge the following week at state when he beat Pollkowske by 9-0 decision, controlling the match from start to finish.
Cole, who was also a sophomore, wrestled in one of the most nail-biting championship matches at the State tournament.
Cole led most of the match against Wright's Phoenix Buske but gave up the lead with just under 40 seconds remaining in the third and final period. But with 15 seconds left Cole got the takedown he needed to force the match into the sudden-death period.
In sudden-death, Cole seemed to have picked up the points needed to win but ultimately wasn't rewarded them. At this point, most of the Casper Events Center had their eyes on the Cole-Buske match, as the 4A and 3A matches had concluded. Most were rooting for Cole after seeing his takedowns count for nothing.
Just when it seemed like the match was going to go to another sudden-death period, he summed his final bit of energy to takedown Buske and finally got those points to stay on the scoreboard; making him the first 'Cat wrestler to bring home a state championship since 2015.
LADY PIONEERS FINISH SECOND AT 1A STATE TRACK AND FIELD MEET
I will always be impressed by how the Lady Pioneers, as a team, are able to finish high enough to bring home hardware. This season they nabbed their second consecutive runners-up trophy from the 1A State meet.
Track and field is a numbers game. The more athletes you have, the more the odds are going to favor you in bring home a team championship or hardware of some sort. Generally, you need double digits to do this but Ten Sleep is doing it with around six to seven athletes. That is insane and very impressive.
LADY BOBCATS BRING HOME FIRST STATE CROSS-COUNTRY CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 2A TITLE
Championship celebrations are the best. The stories are easy to write, the photos are excellent and if there are tears, they're happy tears.
What was also just as fun about the Lady Bobcats winning the 2A State girls cross-country championship was the suspense. Between Thermopolis and Wyoming Indian, it was going to be a tight race for the championship, and as soon as the final Lady 'Cat runner crossed the finish line, Thermopolis cross-country coach Stephanie Metz went to work crunching numbers.
After double-checking, triple-checking, cross-referencing, quadruple checking, cross-referencing again, and finally quintuple-checking, it was clear that the Lady Bobcats were going to raise their first cross-country title in school history. The celebration was on after that, Metz and her team celebrated and they were soon joined by parents and friends congratulating the Lady 'Cats on making history.
WASSUM SHINES IN TRACK AND FIELD
If you didn't read last week's paper, of the many stories you missed was about WHS junior Kait Wassum. Long story short, she's fast, like really, really fast, as she went on to win the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes.
Playing soccer her freshman and sophomore years Wassum switched over to track. Everyone I talked to couldn't wait to see what she was going to do on the track, state champion sprinter was commonly thrown out when talking about her.
By the end of the state meet, Wassum proved why everyone was so excited.
Special shout-out to Randy Tucker of the Riverton Ranger, his photo of Wassum in the 100-meter dash final perfectly captured her all-out determination to win.
BOBCATS BEAT WARRIORS FOR FIRST 3A WIN SINCE REJOINING CLASSIFICATION
It's been rough, really rough for the Bobcats since rejoining Class 3A in basketball in 2016, but this season they showed some flashes that those dark days might be ending.
Not only did the 'Cats get their first 3A victory since rejoining 3A, but they also did it against the rival Worland Warriors. That win could be just the win the program needs as they continue to battle it out in 3A.
WARRIORS REPEAT AS 3A STATE SOCCER CHAMPIONS
Everyone wants to beat the Worland Warriors soccer team so badly. I knew this was the case but I didn't realize just how desperate the rest of 3A wants to beat Worland, just once.
Listening to some of the opposing players talk about Worland it was obvious, but the greatest insight to this came from listening to the parents from those opposing teams. I was under the impression that animal, possibly human, sacrifices, or some other ancient, dark ritual, would 100 percent be carried about by these parents if it guaranteed their team beating Worland.
With all of that in mind, the Warriors not only repeated as 3A champs, they did so in impressively, dominating fashion.
So if you hear stories of an unusual amount of animals gone missing in some these rival 3A towns, we all know what's happening.
WARRIORS AND BOBCATS MAKE STATE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
Both Worland and Thermopolis football programs have gone through tough stretches but the past two seasons, each has made the playoffs in their respective class. The Warriors compete in 3A and Bobcats in 2A.
The Warriors and Bobcats have both been one-and-done in the playoffs the past two seasons but you get the sense that could change. A postseason run could help things progress for each program.
LADY WARRIORS SURGES IN FINAL WEEKS OF THE BASKETBALL SEASON
The Lady Warriors looked dead in the water, going two-and-out at the 3A regional tournament looked like it was etched in stone.
But then things turned around, starting with a win over the 3A Northwest division-leading Powell Lady Panthers. Three wins later the Lady Warriors had made a mess of the division and forced a three-way tie between them, Lander and Powell.
Worland wound up with the No. 2 West-seed for regionals. Unfortunately, things did not break their way at regionals, they beat Pinedale, played a tough Mountain View in the semis and came up a few plays short against Powell. Still, the run they made at the end of the season was important and should lead to bigger and better things for the upcoming school year. Also, the rivalry that will develop between them and Lander should be among the best in the state.
SENIOR STANDOUTS: WORLAND'S JULI WARREN CAPS EXCELLENT SWIMMING CAREER; TEN SLEEP'S HOLIDAY SOLIDIFIES HER SPOT AS ONE OF THE GREATEST
Holiday and Warren have had outstanding careers in their respective sports. Holiday ends her track and field career as the second most decorated female athlete in Wyoming track and field history with 14 state championship medals.
Warren finished her Worland swimming career as one of the program's top athletes. Earning All-State honors three times, repeating as the 3A State champion in the 200-meter individual medley and being named the 3A Athlete of the Year in back-to-back seasons.
Both athletes had tremendous careers and were tremendous role models for their respective teams.
WARRIORS KEEP FIGHTING AMID TOUGH BASKETBALL SEASON
Having championship goals and a young talented roster, the Warriors were considered among the 3A's championship contenders.
Things started well for Worland but as the season wore on they just could not get things rolling and losses piled up. Instead of bringing home a 3A title the Warriors won the 3A State consolation bracket for the second consecutive season.
Pushing past all of that, I honestly thought one of the most impressive things about this season was the Warriors unity through all of this. If you've ever played a team sport, you know how quickly losses can form fractures within the team, especially when you have title aspirations. Before long, you'll have guys out there trying to get their own at the expense of the team and just a group of players that hate sharing the court with each other.
I never sensed any of that this season. The Warriors kept pushing forward as a team and trying everything they could to get that next win. They could have bailed on each other but didn't and that's a testament to the players and program as a whole.
LADY PIONEERS BASKETBALL HAS FIRST WINNING SEASON SINCE 2008
The Lady Pioneers wanted to make it to state this season, yet they fell short of their goal going 1-2 at the 1A West regional tournament. Even falling short of that goal the Lady Pioneers still had a good season. They finished second in the 1A Northwest division and had their first winning season since 2008.
For a program that's trying to get things turned around, this was another successful season, as the cliché goes Rome wasn't built in a day.
WARRIORS CROSS-COUNTRY TEAM WINS FOURTH CONSECUTIVE REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP, HARMAN CLAIM THIRD-STRAIGHT CONFERENCE TITLE
The Warriors cross-country team has enjoyed quite the run in the 3A East as they went on to win their fourth consecutive conference championship. Adding to the championship senior Porter Harman closed out his WHS cross-country career with three consecutive 3A East individual championships.
Being the favorite brings plenty of unique challenges and the Warriors reign over the 3A East has been impressive. Now it's up to a new group of runners to extend Worland's rule over the East.
YOUNG GOLF TEAMS AND GOLFERS ON THE RISE: WARRIORS WIN CONFERENCE GOLF TOURNAMENT IN LANDSLIDE, KARSTEN SIMMONS WINS INDIVIDUAL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP; BOBCATS COME OUT OF NOWHERE TO WIN 2A STATE GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
Even though they compete in 3A and 2A, respectively, the Warrior and Bobcat golf teams share a few common traits. They're both young teams with a ton of talent and they are led by two outstanding freshmen, Karsten Simmons for the Warriors and Hardy Johnson for Thermopolis.
The Warriors cruised to a conference championship held on their home course, the Green Hills Golf Course. They were bested by the Lander Tigers in the 3A State meet but Simmons did win his first career individual state championship.
In what was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the 'Cats but they kept cutting strokes by the dozens as the regular season went along. Then at the state meet they rebounded from a tough first round to storm past the Kemmerer Rangers to lay claim to the 2A State title.
Big things are in store for both programs in 2019.