Lusk Herald Sports Year in Review

Feb 20, 2019

Gifford, Caldera, Cushman, Molzahn, Kruse qualify for state wrestling tourney

W R I G H T – Wright played host to this year’s 2A East Regional Wrestling Tournament. Niobrara County High School took a small but promising squad of five grapplers to compete.

Freshman Donovan Kruse navigated his way far enough through the 106-pound bracket to get a qualifier spot.

“Donovan has worked hard all year in the wrestling room, but more importantly in the classroom, and this trip to the state tournament is well earned,” the NCHS coach said.

James Cushman put himself in a precarious position, dropping his opening bout in one of the tournaments biggest brackets made the stakes for his next bout simple – win and you go to state, lose and you stay home.

Cushman was unaffected as he walked on the mat with confidence and quickly punched his ticket to the state tournament with a fall.

March 6, 2019

Lady Tigers fourth at state tourney

CASPER – The first time Niobrara County High School played Greybull was back in the second game of the season at the Coal Miners Classic, and the Lady Tigers were without Courtney Rowley and Riley Shaw, and Taylor Gaukel played just a handful of minutes.

Lusk lost that game by nine, but Thursday’s first round of the 2A State Tournament would be a different story.

Despite seven first period turnovers, Gaukel and Julianne Graham helped Lusk off to an 11-6 first quarter lead. As the Lady Buffs shooting woes mounted, the Lady Tigers were getting the breaks as they shot 50 percent in the first half.

The 24-11 halftime lead was a bit surprising to many in attendance, as most 2-3 seed matchups are typically close.

Rowley buried a 3-pointer, followed closely by one from Gaukel and a free throw had the Lady Tigers cruising with a 33-13 lead midway through the third frame.

Suddenly, Greybull caught fire as NCHS assisted their comeback with a series of turnovers, and a 7-0 run closed the gap to 33-20 with one quarter to go.

April 3, 2019

Niobrara County wrestlers represent home state well

DES MOINES, Iowa ñ On March 28, two Niobrara County wrestlers, Nathan Fish and Colton Coffman, boarded the bus for the AAU National Middle School Dual tournament in Des Moines.

The boys qualified for the national tournament during the middle school state tournament in Thermopolis. Each placed in the top two in their weight class in the state in order to secure a spot on the Wyoming middle school team.

As their parents, fans and fellow wrestlers from the Lusk Rawhide Wrestling Team waited back home, these two young men weighed in on the evening of March 29 and both made weight into their brackets: The 75-pound class for Fish and the 95-pound class for Coffman.

Saturday, March 30, opened with their first matches at 8 a.m. Both boys won their first round Wyoming vs. Tennessee. Coffman took his match with a pin and Fish in points for a 3-2 victory.

May 1, 2019

Nine-man football approved for 2020 season

LUSK – Following the slew of forfeits during last fall’s 1A 11-man schedule, the WHSAA gave the go-ahead for a nine-man league beginning in time for the 2020 season.

What began about a year ago as many smaller schools face dwindling participation numbers, culminated at last week’s Board of Directors spring meeting.

“I kind of figured it had a good chance of passing,” said NCHS Activities Director and head football coach Ryan Nelson. “We discussed it at the All State meeting last fall, knowing the problems the West has had with numbers recently.”

Lusk is no exception to this trend, as they finished last season with 21 players-similar to what conference rivals Southeast, Tongue River and Wright experienced.

“After talking to other coaches and AD’s around the state, there’s a lot of support and ways to keep the game as close to 11-man as possible,” Nelson said.

The proposal gained steam after the WHSAA winter meetings and reclassification cycle for 2020-22 began. All schools were surveyed and many of the 1A 11-man schools felt nine man would be better for their projected enrollments. 2A Moorcroft has also opted to play nine-man, while six-man schools Lingle-Fort Laramie, St. Stephens and Riverside intend to move up.

May 8, 2019

Tiger golf team doubles up on tournaments last weekend

LUSK ñ The Niobrara County High School Tiger golf team finally got into their 2A season with earnest this weekend with tournaments in Wright and at home at the Lusk Municipal Golf Course.

The weather was great and the team’s results were right behind it.

At Wright on Friday, Micah Shaner shot an 81 to tie for the championship, winning it outright in a playoff. Jayden Matthews was the second low scorer for the Tigers with a 100, edging Ryan Bruegger who shot 101. Ben Eiden wasn’t far behind with a 107.

Dalton Larson continues to get more consistent and shot 118.

As a team, they ended up in third place, three strokes behind the Thunder Basin JV and nine strokes behind the Sundance-Hulett team.

May 22, 2019

Penfield wins gold at state track

CASPER – The track and field season ended on Saturday, May 18, in Casper, with one Tiger trackster living out a dream.

When senior Alec Penfield started high school track, one of his track dreams was to become a state champion. That happened for him on Friday when he cleared 6 feet to win the 2A boys high jump championship.

He also competed in long jump, where he went 17 feet, 5.25 inches.

Senior Taylor Gaukel had a great final state track competing in four events, earning a bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles Saturday in 17.68 seconds. Gaukel also competed in the long and triple jumps on Friday. She placed seventh in the long jump with a leap of 15-4.25 and later in the day went 33-3 to place fourth in the triple jump.

Mackenzie Lyons was the last senior competing for the Tigers. She placed sixth in the shot put with a throw of 35-6.

“As coaches, we greatly appreciate the hard work and dedication that these senior athletes, along with Esmeralda Caldera, have put into our track program over the last 7 years. They will be missed as they go onto bigger and better things in life,” NCHS boys coach Jim Lyons said.

July 10, 2019

Kottwitz qualifies for National High School Rodeo Finals

LUSK – Peyton Kottwitz, a senior at Niobrara County High School, earned a position on the Wyoming State High School Rodeo Team and will be traveling with fellow teammates to Rock Springs, Wyo., July 14-20 to compete at the 71st annual National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR) in the reined cowhorse competition.

Featuring more than 1,650 contestants from 43 states, five Canadian Provinces, Australia and Mexico, the NHSFR is the world’s largest rodeo. In addition to competing for more than $150,000 in prizes, NHSFR contestants will also be competing for more than $375,000 in college scholarships and the chance to be named an NHSFR World Champion.

To earn this title, contestants must finish in the top 20–based on their combined times/scores in the first two rounds – to advance to Saturday evening’s final round. World champions will then be determined based on their three-round combined times/scores.

July 17, 2019

Tiger swimmers finish out season with personal records

HEMINGFORD, Neb. – The Lusk swim team competed in the last meet of the season July 13 at Hemingford.

It was a great day for swimming, as Amber Luker placed sixth in the 50 free, 10th in the 25 fly, 10th in the 25 back and fourth in the 25 freestyle. Maci Lyons was seventh in the 50 free, eighth in the 25 fly, 11th in the 25 back and sixth in the 25 freestyle.

Kyla Lyons finished third in the 50 free, fourth in the 25 fly, fourth in the 25 breaststroke and second in the 25 freestyle.

The Lusk 8-and-under 100-yard medley relay team placed third. Traceton Engelker won the 200 IM, 100 free, 25 fly and 100 IM.

Kendal Engelker was first in the 200 IM, 50 fly and 400 freestyle and second in the 100 IM.

Dalton Larson finished second in the 200 free, fourth in the 100 free and 50 breaststroke and fifth in the 50 free.

The swim team would like to thank the parents, Barb Cushman and the lifeguards at Tiger Plunge, the City of Lusk and everyone else that has made this season possible.

Sept. 11, 2019

2019 season comes with a changing future

LUSK – After 95 years of 11-man football dating to 1923, the 2019 Tiger season may be the last of its kind.

With declining participation numbers across the state, the Class 1A 11-man classification will become a 9-man league in 2020. Rivalries with Big Horn, Upton-Sundance, Cokeville and Pine Bluffs will fade, while Lingle-Fort Laramie and Moorcroft return to the schedule. They will join Southeast, Wright, Tongue River, Rocky Mountain and four Fremont County schools – Wind River, Wyoming Indian, Shoshoni and St Stephens – will become the flagship programs.

“We’re going to play a few JV games 9-man,” said Activities Director and head football coach Ryan Nelson. “Just eliminate the tackles and we’ll get some younger guys experience with that.”

Over the past 35 years, NCHS has shrunk to among the smallest 2A schools-and yet despite facilities among the finest in Wyoming, participation issues happen in Lusk, too.

Oct. 30, 2019

Tigers sting Hornets, 48-21

LUSK – In a fitting epilogue, the Niobrara County High School football team won their final game of the year, and the 96th season of the 11-man game was added to the history books. While the Tigers original goal of a playoff run didn’t pan out, a solid trouncing of Pine Bluffs on Gibson Field at Fullmer Stadium helped enlighten the Senior Night festivities.

The Hornets offense has struggled to find an identity this season, yet the Tigers identity was on full display. A steady diet of Damien Molzahn, James Stone and Drake Lamp consistently churned up double-digit gains, as NCHS moved the chains 23 times in the game. Lamp got the scoring started with his 13-yard sweep at the 7:32 mark, but Stone was denied on the conversion.

Molzahn scored just three minutes into the second quarter from three yards out, yet Stone was stood up on the two-point conversion.

It was 12-0 and the Tigers got the ball right back on a Tanner Carpenter interception. A couple of penalties slowed the drive, but Lusk upped the lead to 20-0 on Lamp’s 12-yard score. The Tigers added the two-point conversion when Wyatt Stauffer’s connected with Carpenter.

The Tigers put one more touchdown on the board before halftime as Molzahn bulled in from 7 yards out. This time Stone was not denied, and Lusk led 28-0 at the break.

Nov. 6, 2019

Lady Tigers bow out at regional tournament

MOORCROFT – The Niobrara County High School volleyball team played their best matches of the season at the 2A East Regionals last weekend. Unfortunately, it came too late as the Lady Tigers were eliminated by teams that finished second and fourth and qualified for state.

Defending state champion Wright is a strong contender for another title, yet the Lady Tigers gave them more than they expected. The Lady Panthers won the first set 25-18, but not without some tense moments. Wright won the second set 25-12, and their size and experience wore down Lusk during a 25-15 third set win.

The loss sent NCHS into a match with Glenrock later Friday evening, as they looked to avenge three regular season losses to the Lady Herders.

Glenrock slipped by late in the first set as they won 25-21. All three sets were back and forth, but the Lady Herders prevailed 25-18 in the second. With the season on the line, the Lady Tigers gave all they had but Glenrock held on for the 25-20 victory.

The Lady Panthers lost to Pine Bluffs in the regional championship, while Glenrock lost to 2017 state champion Sundance in the third-place game.


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