Houk, Brothwell win state
CASPER – It was a historic weekend. Not only for the Lingle-Fort Laramie/Southeast wrestling team, but the entire state of Wyoming.
Last weekend saw the Wyoming High School Activities Association host its first ever Wyoming Girls State Championships.
LFLSE had two young ladies – Lilley Lawrence and Josie Houk – take part in the tournament.
On her birthday, Houk capped off the weekend with a 4-0 record and will go down as the first ever female 155-pound champion in state history.
“I’m awesome,” she said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to know the work I’m putting in is actually doing something. Against the guys, I’ve put in a bunch of work and still going to lose.”
LFLSE coach Brandon Gifford added, “That girl has put in her dues. She started wrestling with the boys, and now, she has an opportunity to wrestle girls on a level playing field. You can see the level of success she’s able to obtain.”
Houk pinned her way to the state title bout, picking up wins over Morgan Grossman of Pinedale, Marty Dick of Evanston and Delainie Munch of Hulett.
In the championship match, Houk was in a battle for all six minutes with Skylee Gangwish of Kelly Walsh. Despite nearly getting pinned in the third period, Houk fended off Gangwish for a 10-5 victory.
“I’ve wanted that for so long,” Houks said. “I knew I was up by five. Against her, I almost got pinned. I knew I had to stall but make it look like I was still going.”
Houk’s season ended with a 36-1 record. Her only loss of the season came to Meadow King of Cheyenne Central, who won the 145-pound state championship match just before Houk’s. Houk also defeated a two-time state champion from Nebraska.
“She’s had an amazing season. She’s proved she’s as good as anyone in our region,” Gifford said. “The sky is the limit for her. She puts in the time. She knows what it takes to win matches and be successful. She does the right things. She lives her life the right way.”
Lawrence was the only other member of the team to take part in the tournament.
Unfortunately, her stay was cut short. She lost by injury default in the opening round to Abbagail Dickerson of Kelly Walsh. Lawrence was unable to continue was forced to forfeit her second match, ending her weekend.
Houk wasn’t the only LFLSE wrestler to bring back a state championship.
Junior Kaleb Brothwell won his second consecutive state title.
All four of Brothwell’s matches ended in pins, and his longest match lasted 1 minute, 58 seconds despite battling strep throat last weekend.
“I knew I had to finish it quick,” Brothwell said. “I went out there, and I got to my attacks, turned him and pinned him.”
Brothwell defeated Wind River’s Camron Wisecup, Dubois’ Kaleb Gleim, Kemmerer’s Ayden Kelley to reach the championship.
In the quarterfinal match against Gleim, Brothwell set a new school record for pins.
“I went into the season wanting to get the school record for takedown, which I got about three weeks ago,” Brothwell said. “As soon as that happened, we counted my pins and I was only 10 pins off from the pin record. I was like it’s doable. I went out and tried to pin everyone in all my matches.”
He successfully pinned all but one of his opponents from that point forward.
In his final match of the weekend, it took Brothwell all of 1:50 to pin Will Spann’s shoulders to the mat.
“He’s a pinner, and I felt like we had a chance to put the kid on his back and get a pin,” Gifford said. “He did what he’s been doing all year.”
Brothwell ended the season with a 44-2 record. His only two losses came against a pair of three time state champions – one in 4A and the other in 3A.
“He’s in that field,” Gifford said. “He’s right there with the best of Wyoming.”
Brothwell was one of three members of the LFLSE team to medal at the state tournament.
Sophomore Louden Bremer finished third on the weekend.
Bremer picked up a pair of pins to reach the semifinal round before suffering his only loss of the weekend to Gabe Emery of Kemmerer.
Bremer won a 6-3 decision of Saratoga’s Slayd Daley in the consolation semifinals to advance to the third-place match.
In his final match of the season, Bremer and Moorcroft’s Trenton Sheehan battled to a 4-4 tie after three periods. However, in overtime, it didn’t take long for Bremer to score two points on a takedown, scoring a 6-4 sudden victory.
Wyatt Sylvester finished fifth for the second straight year, capping off the weekend with a 3-2 record.
Sylvester picked up a forfeit win over Thermopolis’ Daniel Blair in the opening round and a pin over Aidan Ruby of Wind River to reach the semifinal round.
On Friday night, Sylvester lost an 11-9 decision to Will Ward of Thermopolis.
On Saturday, Wyoming Indian’s Aidan Miller won a 12-1 major decision over Sylvester in the consolation semifinal to drop him to the fifth-place bout.
In the fifth-place match, it was a rematch of the quarterfinal round, and for the second time on the weekend, Sylvester got the best of Ruby. This time it was a 13-6 victory.
“It’s good for them. It’s a bittersweet pill for them,” Gifford said of Bremer and Sylvester. “It’s good for them to finish their season with a win and keep their heads up. I know they are heartbroken right now, but knowing those two, it will motivate them and fuel their fire in the offseason.”
Amon Napier (106 pounds), Mason Sorensen (120), William Feyereisen (138), Lance York (160), Carter Blevins (170), Tiegan Thompson (170), Alec DeMarce (182), Taylor Swartwood (182) and Colter McFarlin (220) also picked up wins for LFLSE.
As a team, they finished seventh with 89 points. Kemmerer won the team title with 218 points, while Moorcroft was second with 171. Big Piney was third with 150.
LFLSE will return all but two seniors in Gage Gibson and Swartwood.
“If those guys are willing to do the things it takes to jump levels, we’ll have a chance to be competitive next year,” Gifford said.