Lusk wrestlers have break out performance in Douglas

NCHS 126-pounder James Cushman works a cradle on one of his opponents at the Shane Shatto Memorial Invitational wrestling tournament last week in Douglas. Photo/ Barb Rapp

DOUGLAS – The NCHS wrestling team traveled to Douglas to compete in what has become one of the states premier tournaments, the Shane Shatto Memorial. 

Wrestlers traveled from all parts of Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado to make the depth and quality of this tournament outstanding. 

The Lusk team found themselves short a few wrestlers due to the holiday and sickness, but three wrestlers attended the J.V. tournament and three went on the varsity side. 

James Cushman would get three wins before dropping a couple matches to find himself just short of placing in the J.V. tournament, but a good solid effort from the sophomore. 

On the Varsity side of things, Lusk had three representatives, Pason Gifford, Dylan Molzahn and Jasper Caldera. 

Molzahn suffered some freshman jitters and dropped his first two bouts to put him out of the tournament early. 

 Caldera dropped his opening bout and then battled his way back, through arguably one of the toughest weights in the tournament, to earn a sixth place, leaving in his wake highly ranked wrestlers from all classifications. 

“Jasper wrestled a great tournament, we knew he had the skill set to contend at a high level, he just needed the mind set to go along with it, and he brought that this weekend,” NCHS coaches said. 

The sixth place showing doesn’t really do justice to Caldera’s performance, his opening loss would be to Nebraska’s fourth ranked Hood, then four straight wins over quality opponents put Jasper in the medal rounds where he would lose 3-2 to Kelly Walsh’s second-ranked Alvarado, and finally a 3-1 controversial loss to Thermopolis’ No.1-ranked Cole. 

"Jasper makes no excuses though, he owns his losses, he learns from them and he is excited about the future, and so are we," coaches said. 

As impressive as Caldera was, the break out performance of the weekend has to go to Pason Gifford. 

The senior who has toiled long and hard at this sport finally got his just due. Pason finally got what he earned, second place in one of the states premier tournaments.

“Pason has long possessed the physical ability to challenge the states best, but what good is talent without hard work and the right attitude.

"This year, Pason is embracing the hard work and his attitude is reflected in his results. Gifford has taken his role as a senior leader seriously, his hard work and mind set this year is helping to reshape the trajectory of the program.” NCHS coaches said.

The NCHS wrestlers will be in Newcastle on Friday, Jan. 11, and at the Blazer Duals in Torrington on Jan. 12. 

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