Western Wyoming looks to defend their NJCAA National Championship in Iowa

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Western Wyoming Wrestling

Wyo4News Staff, [email protected]

January 22, 2024–Western Wyoming Wrestling was initially started in 1991 by Steven Christensen and began as just a club with no scholarships. In 1992 they received a few scholarships and had their first All-Americans in 1993 with Ryan Braden from Rock Springs and Kip Platts from Mountain View.

From that humble beginning the program has exploded, with last year’s first Region 9 National Championship title for Western Wyoming Community College, they made the nation recognize the Mustangs and what kind of program is being built in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

Being the current reigning national champions puts the spotlight on the Mustangs, and when asked how that impacts the preparation for Nationals, Head Coach Art Castillo stated, “I love this view from the top, it is the best view. It’s not something that we have talked about, we briefly spoke that we are going to get everyone’s best effort from all divisions, and so we have to be prepared for that and focused and treat every match the same. Being the hunter is what we did for 15 years, and now we are the hunted. I wouldn’t change this perspective for anything and hopefully we stay that way”.

The Mustangs will have ten returning wrestlers that will be competing and nine of the ten will be ranked. At the 125-weight class, Bridger Ricks is ranked 2nd, 133 Cody Phelps is ranked 3rd, 141 River Wardle is 6th, 157 Chris Lopez is 8th, 165 Jayden Luttrell is 4th, 174 Will Harmon is 9th, 184 Darion Johnson is 1st, 197 Wesley Reeves is 2nd, and at heavyweight Dmarian Lopez is ranked 2nd.

Coach Castillo is also very appreciative of the community, how they have opened their arms to the wrestling program, have been so supportive, and have made the wrestlers feel at home. Those that are wanting to wish Western luck as they leave for Nationals can do so Tuesday, February 27 at noon in the atrium on the Western Wyoming Community College campus as a sending-off event for the wrestlers. The NJCAA National Championship tournament will be March 1-2.