Cougars lose control of Power Cup

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By Brian Forbes

EVERGREEN — Conifer coach Andrew Ubben didn’t know what to expect Feb. 7. Evergreen coach Steve Hitchens knew what was coming.

Break open the trophy case, the Conifer Lobos took back the Power Cup. With a vengeance.

The Lobos snapped Evergreen’s three-year waltz with the rivalry trophy after a dominating 50-27 victory that – sadly, for the large number of fans present – included seven forfeits.

“I had no idea. I knew there was a rivalry,” said Ubben, a first-year coach from Kansas. “I looked up at the board and I saw ‘Power Cup champions’, and they haven’t won it in a while, and I was like, ‘What is that?’ I was excited about it.”

And thrilled with the results.

Of the seven weights contested, the Lobos won six by virtue of four pins, a technical fall and decision. Take away the freebies and Conifer still won convincingly, 32-3.

“They’ve got some good kids with a lot of experience,” Hitchens said of the Lobos. “It went kind of like I thought it would.”

The Lobos won the initial six weights to build a commanding 33-0 lead. Travis Himmelman kicked off the bout by pinning Cody Martinez in 3 minutes, 2 seconds to take the 125-pound weight class.

Nate Fisk won via forfeit before the Lobos picked up two more pins from Colby Kluesner (135 pounds) and Travis Stickney (140).

Kluesner put Drew Leadford down at the 1:24 mark – the quickest pin of the night – and Stickney stuck Matt Marovich with six seconds left in the first period.

Trent Stickney dominated his 145-pound match against Evergreen’s Wes Knoll, scoring four takedowns and a reverse. Although Trent never got Knoll on his back, his tenacious start set the tone and was a tune the entire Conifer squad was singing.

“That’s the way our coaches tell us to wrestle,” Trent Stickney said. “We are always on the attack.”

Conifer’s Mike Vaggalis took care of Alex Hansen with a pin at the 1:28 mark to win the 152 weight class. Vaggalis got Hansen in trouble early and was able to squeeze out a pin while keeping Hansen’s shoulders just inside the circle.

The next six weights were forfeited with the Cougars picking up four victories (Chad Foutch, Nick Keitlin, Dylan Cisneros and Sean Gipson) and the Lobos two (Tim Albrecht and Connor Hanley).

Tony Pena, Conifer’s undefeated freshman, wrestled up at 112s and scored a 15-0 technical fall victory over a battling Connor O’Neal. Pena controlled the entire match, which was over early in the third period, but O’Neal used his long frame to avoid getting pinned in several cradle holds.

Pena went up a weight as Evergreen’s 103-pounder Nathan Phipps did not make weight before the dual.

The final match went to the Cougars as Tanner Nelson held on for a 9-6 decision over Caleb Rudnicki.

Nelson was able to throw Rudnicki’s head early and built a 4-0 lead before Rudnicki scored a reverse. Nelson scored a takedown with 39 seconds left in the second period and added two nearfall points to take control 9-2.

Although new to the rivalry tradition, Ubben liked what he saw and hopes to see it again.

“I’m glad it’s back at Conifer and I hope we can hang on to it for a couple years,” he said.

Conifer 50, Evergreen 27

103 pounds: Connor Hanley, C, wins by forfeit; 112: Tony Pena, C, tech. fall Connor O’Neal, 15-0; 119: Tanner Nelson, E, dec. Caleb Rudnicki, 9-6; 125: Travis Himmelman, C, pinned Cody Martinez, 3:02; 130: Nate Fisk, C, wins by forfeit; 135: Colby Kluesner, C, pinned Drew Leadford, 1:24; 140: Travis Stickney, C, pinned Matt Marovich, 1:54; 145: Trent Stickney, C, dec. Wes Knoll, 10-4; 152: Mike Vaggalis, C, pinned Alex Hansen, 1:28; 160: Chad Foutch, E, wins by forfeit; 171: Nick Keitlin, E, wins by forfeit; 189: Dylan Cisneros, E, wins by forfeit; 215: Sean Gipson, E, wins by forfeit; Hwt.: Tim Albrecht, C, wins by forfeit.