The Braves went into Friday’s clash with the Wolves of Green River as heavy underdogs in what has been historically a very tightly contested rivalry over the years due to the team having graduated 13 seniors from last year’s state championship team and then coming into this contest short-handed with 5 Star Valley Wrestlers unavailable due to injury. On top of that, Green River is coming off of an impressive performance in the Ron Thon last week, one of the most prestigious tournaments in the state of Wyoming coming in 2nd place overall only losing out to Sheridan, a 4A school a full class above them and by just 2 total team points.
Despite the handicap Star Valley found themselves with, they came out with a bang in the early contests as things started off at 152 and Porter Merritt took a dominant 12-2 victory over Nick Weipert of Green River to take the 4 team points for the Braves and kick started an avalanche of points for the Crimson kids. Kooper Burk at 160 took a pinfall victory at 160 over James Herwaldt which would be the 1st of 4 consecutive pinfall victories for the Braves as Grant Weiss at 170, Grant Thompson at 182, and Joesph Warren at 195 all earned 6 team points each for the Braves and all in the 1st period of their respective matches.
In the 220 lbs match Green River’s Deylin Miller defeated Ryan Tolbot 17-5 for the 4 point major decision and set the table for the gauntlet of top 5 ranked wrestlers Green River had in the lower weights to start inching closer.
Star Valley would get 1 final lick in before the lower weight slog would hit as Wesley Turner did get a 27 second pinfall victory over Ethan Maez to extend the Star Valley lead to 33-4 before a double forfeit at 106 and a Star Valley forfeit at 113 would give Green River 6 much needed points. The Wolves then took 3 consecutive boughts all by pinfall as Axel McKinnon took down Bridger Smith at 120, Ryker Meke defeated Caleb Morrison at 126, and Conner Todd defeated Paxton Wolfley at 132 bringing the team scores to 33-28 heading into the Cameron Kendall vs Kale Knezovich battle at 138.
While Kendall was certainly not being overlooked by anyone, he is currently ranked 5th by Track wrestling in 4A, many believed this would be points for Green River on the board setting up a battle for all the marbles at 145 in the final match of the evening as Knezovich is considered the top wrestler at 138 in the 3A after coming in 2nd at state last season and defeating the wrestler who beat him there this season already. Things looked bleak for Kendall with the score 8-3 with less than 30 seconds left to go but Kendall proved why it’s never over until it’s over with a spectacular takedown directly into back points in the final seconds of the 3rd leading to a brilliant tension-building sequence as the refs had to come together to discuss for extended time whether Cameron had scored all 3 or only had time to have registered 2 of the back points before the period expired.
With the outcome of the match in the balance the officials ultimately awarded Kendall all 3 back points which tied the score at 8-8 and forced OT which would be decided under sudden-death first score wins rules. Kale shot first but was quickly eaten up by Cameron’s cross face and a dramatic get-behind sequence later, in which Kendall had to just barely beat the time limit to score the take down, the Braves had 3 more team points on one of the great upsets of the season and clinched victory in the dual with a 36-28 lead with only one match to go.
As it turned out the Braves would need that win too as in the final match, Thomas Dalton of Green River got 6 points due to injury time expiring after Lane Hunting received a head injury and was potentially busted open giving the Braves the win 36-34 over the heavily favored Green River Wolves. The Braves will be in action at home this Thursday at 5pm vs Evanston which you can watch right here on svinews.com.