In the last two seasons, Campbell County High School wrestling fought every meet to stay out of last place.
This year, there has been a change in the expectation, said Camel coach Clay Rodgers.
“The last couple of years we’ve just been trying not to be the very last team on that leaderboard,” Rodgers said. “Now, it’s pretty cool to see those boys getting excited and it makes them wrestle harder when they go out in their individual matches because they know they’re fighting for team points now.”
When Saturday’s Chadron Invitational in Chadron, Nebraska, was over, Campbell County had finished sixth of 22 teams, and the Camels had two individual champions.
Whereas in previous meets there might be a couple of wrestlers showing up on the leaderboard, there were six who made top six in the individual brackets on Saturday.
The Camels’ lightest and heaviest wrestlers were champions.
Freshman Darron Provost, a 106-pounder, took first place when he escaped his opponent from Casper-Kelly Walsh, Gavin Mancini, in the final moments to take an overtime victory and win the tournament. It was a redemption match for Provost because Mancini pinned him earlier in the season.
Camel heavyweight (285) Colter Rankin won after pinning Colt Rodgers of Bridgeport, Nebraska.
“I can’t express how fun it is to watch him right now, how patient he’s being and how under control he’s staying,” Rodgers said of Rankin. “It’s just awesome to see how far he’s come so far, and I’m just really excited to see over the next five weeks how much more he keeps growing.”
Colt Welsh, a sophomore, was fourth wrestling at a higher weight class than he’s used to: 113 pounds. He is expected to compete at 106 pounds in the postseason.
Senior Dawsen Hayden finished third at 160 pounds and Devon Harrison, at 170, finished sixth.
Camels 195-pounder Raul Estrada, a senior, took sixth at the tournament. Estrada competed in his freshman year, then he took two years off before making a return this season.
“Some people see sixth place and might not think it’s much, but that’s the first time he’s ever placed in a wrestling tournament,” Rodgers said. “That was real big for him. He opened up a little bit and started scoring some more points today, trying some new things.”
Valentine, Nebraska, won the team title, Casper-Kelly Walsh was second and Ogallala, Nebraska, third.
On Friday, the Camels competed in a dual tournament at Chadron and finished seventh place out of 10 teams. The Camels were 2-3 in the dual tournament.
Next up, Campbell County wrestling travels to Worland on Thursday for a dual before the Ron Thon Invitational in Riverton on Friday and Saturday.