Braves, Wolfpack grapplers primed for state

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By DAVID LESNICK

The Daily Inter Lake

The State Championships 2019 Agenda handout given to Flathead High School’s wrestlers this week has a key noteworthy item listed on the third day of the day by day schedule. It’s on Friday, right after the 10 a.m. Parade of Athletes. In brackets, coach Jeff Thompson has inserted the line: Make it a goal — Everyone wins 2 matches.

If Flathead can do that, and wrestle tournament tough like it has for much of this season, a three-peat could be in the making for the defending AA state champions.

Wrestling at the all-class state spectacle begins with the first round at 10:20 a.m. in Billings at MetraPark on Friday.

State action resumes Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The championship finals will begin at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Flathead won state last year with three individual champions, a school record 15 state placers and a 288 team score.

Bozeman, 222, was a distant second.

Flathead took state for the first time since 2010 in 2017 with a 251 total. Bozeman, 189 ½, was second.

Flathead did not have a state champion that year.

Flathead

The Braves have the most state qualifiers of the 14 teams in AA with 22. Of those, 11 have top four seeds from Western AA.

Winning seeding championships last week in Missoula were Brendan Barnes (126), Fin Nadeau (132) and Tanner Russell (170).

“Fin Nadeau is only a freshman and to win it at 132 pounds is very impressive,” Thompson said.

Nadeau is 36-10 on the season.

Barnes checks in at 32-12 while Russell sits at an impressive 43-5. Barnes and Russell are juniors. Russell was fourth at state a year ago and Barnes fifth.

Senior Jaden MacNeil (138) was a state runner-up last year at 132. He lost to four-time state champion Charlie Klepps of Billings Senior in the finals.

MacNeil was third at the seeding tournament. He is 30-14 on the year.

“Our goal going into (seeding tournament) was to qualify 20,” Thompson said.

“Our goal for state is to finish in the top five. If the wrestling gods are in our corner, we have the potential to be in the trophy hunt.”

Thompson said to have 22 state qualifiers is a blessing considering the adversity and injuries the team has dealt with.

“It is a statement of the depth of this 2019 Flathead wrestling team,” he said.

“This team is still very young and they will gain so much experience by wrestling in the Metra that will be carried over into a ton of confidence for next year.

“On paper, we have a lot of very challenging matchups right away, but if we can win a few of the tight ones and even get a couple of upsets, that momentum will be carried over into the entire weekend. I think if we can get 10 placers that will put us in contention for a state trophy.”

Thompson said six teams will contend for the top three trophies.

“It’s going to be an interesting weekend,” he said. “I have not seen a team race like this in years. It will be fun.”

State Lineup

Overall Seed

113 — Colton Wieczorek, fr. 12-11 5th

120 — Dillon Yeadon, jr. 13-5 8th

120 — Eric Bott, jr. 8-8 7th

126 — Brendan Barnes, jr. 32-12 1st

126 — Braden Comer, sr. 18-10 4th

132 — Fin Nadeau, fr. 36-10 1st

132 — Dominic Battello, sr. 23-14 3rd

138 — Jaden MacNeil, sr. 30-14 3rd

138 — Chase Youso, fr. 18-8 6th

145 — Bo Meyer, sr. 29-17 4th

145 — CJ Morris, so. 8-5 7th

152 — Chance Sheldon-Allen, jr. 8-8 8th

152 — Ridge Troupe, jr. 24-10 3rd

160 — Zaybin Stewart, so. 30-21 4th

160 — Finn Sullivan, sr. 13-8 5th

170 — Tanner Russell, jr. 43-5 1st

170 — Gage Winter, so. 10-10 7th

182 — Paxton Boyce, jr. 26-18 4th

182 — Jonathan Holcomb, so. 11-8 NA 205 — Ross Calhoon, sr. 14-10 4th

205 — Sebastian Koch, sr. 22-18 5th

285 — Michael Downing, fr. 14-7 3rd

Glacier

It’s definitely been an up year for Glacier with 17 wrestlers at state.

“We are excited for the crew to put it on the line one last time this year,” Glacier coach Ross Dankers said. “I think we are definitely going to need to wrestle our best and find some ways to generate upsets to get those guys that didn’t win the seeding tournament to get on the podium. Our three No. 1 seed guys have set themselves up, and the pieces are in place, now it comes down to getting the job done.

“This week in practice I think we have continued to hone the necessary mentality to be successful in this postseason environment.”

Taking top seeding seeds to state are sophomore Cody Frost (113) and seniors Colby Martin (205) and Tre Krause (285). Martin, at 28-7, has the best individual record on the roster.

Sophomore Lance Fretwell (126) is next with his 26-15 mark. Senior Caden Willis (152) is 25-16 and senior Tristan Little (120) follows at 24-17.

Willis and Little were both fourth at the seeding tournament last weekend in Missoula while Fretwell was fifth.

Glacier last year had 12 state qualifiers, but no seeding tournament champions.

“We have focused on being excited for the opportunity, and making sure our attitude and effort are where we want them to be,” Dankers said of state preparations.

“We did a great job bringing that to the seeding tournament, now it is time to take it to the next level. We want our guys to realize that whatever the outcome. win or lose, we are going to care about them all the same, and hopefully that is something that can help take the pressure off and allow them to just do their best.”

The Wolfpack did not have a state placer a year ago and finished 13th in the team standings with 45 1/2 points.

State Lineup

AA Overall Seed

103 — Thomas Putnam, fr. 6-8 16-14 4th

103 — Drew Kernan, fr. 1-4 7-12 8th

113 — Dylan Miller, sr. 8-10 15-14 4th

113 — Cody Frost, so. 9-6 13-8 1st

120 — Tristan Little, sr. 17-11 24-17 4th

120 — Kyle McCollam, fr. 2-3 7-12 6th

126— Lance Fretwell, so. 14-13 26-15 5th

132 — Ricardo Hewitt, fr. 2-9 7-16 6th

138 — Royce Conklin, fr. 8-18 20-21 7th

145 — Kael Willis, so. 10-10 18-14 8th

152 — Caden Willis, sr. 17-13 25-16 4th

160 — Thomas Crofts, jr. 2-17 9-19 6th

170 — Jaron Scott, jr. 2-6 8-11 6th

205 — Colby Martin, sr. 17-4 28-7 1st

205 — Justin Olson, so. 4-6 15-7 7th

285 — Tre Krause, sr. 14-2 20-4 1st

285 — Camryn Vergeront, jr. 9-6 18-12 5th

Class A

Columbia Falls

For the second-straight year, the MatCats will have 11 grapplers at state.

Leading the way is senior Colton McPhee (182). He is 48-3 on the season and has won 34 of those matches by pin.

Jakob Freeman (205), a senior, and Taylor Gladeau (285), a junior, are next with records of 42-9 and 29-4, respectively.

McPhee heads to Billings as a divisional champ while Gladeau and Freeman were runner-ups.

Columbia Falls finished third at the divisional and was eighth at state last year.

State Lineup

113 — Orion Barta, fr. 25-19

132 — Thomas Peters, sr. 26-20

138— Ayden Role, sr. 31-17

145— Isaac Balla, so. 23-32

170— Lucas Thacker, so. 16-11

170— Allec Knapton, so. 14-9

182 — Colton McPhee, sr. 48-3

182— DJ Laycock, jr. 1-3

205 — Jakob Freeman, sr. 42-9

285 — Tommy Phelps, so. 1-3

285 — Taylor Gladeau, jr. 29-4

Libby

The Loggers had the most finalists at the Western A divisional a week ago with five. Trey Thompson (145) finished first with Buddy Doolin (120), Zack Morrison (132), Jeff Offenbecher (138) and Hunter Hoover (152) all placing second.

“I think we have the potential to place five or six guys,” Libby coach Kelly Morford said.

“All we have to do is what we have been doing the last couple of weeks.”

Thompson is 45-7 on the season. Morrison is next at 40-12.

Doolin, 37-11, was a state runner-up last year at 113 and a state champion in Class B for the Loggers in 2017.

“A kid who doesn’t do anything super flashy, stays solid,” Morford said of Thompson.

“He put in the work in the offseason. He wants to get into the finals. I think he can get it done.”

Thompson did not place at state his freshman or sophomore seasons.

“He took a big step forward this year.” Morford said.

“If you do well at divisional, you set yourself up well for state,” Morford said of his divisional finalists.

“I’m excited where we are at.”

All total, Libby has qualified eight for state.

State Lineup

120 — Buddy Doolin, sr. 37-11

132 — Zack Morrison, so. 40-12

138 — Jeff Offenbecher, jr. 26-9

145 — Trey Thompson, jr. 45-7

152 — Hunter Hoover, fr. 25-12

152 — Zane Nordwick, fr. 17-24

160 — Tucker Masters, so. 36-17

182 — Daniel Rigney, sr. 15-26

Polson

The Pirates hope to follow last weekend’s dominating effort in Butte at the Western A divisional in Billings for state.

“We are really excited to be bringing 15 wrestlers to state this year, and we are confident they will all have great chances of scoring points for our team,” Polson coach Matt Owen said.

“Our team has been competing extremely hard all season long and we feel like we are peaking at the right time to do some damage at state. Our seniors — RJ Pierre, Jarod Farrier, Bridger Wenzel, Hunter Fritsch and Jasper Drake — have been the heart and soul of our team all year and we believe they are going to do great things at state. I feel with our senior leadership and our underclassmen improving every week, we have a great opportunity to be in the trophy hunt.”

Wenzel (152) and Fritsch (170) won divisional championships while Pierre (113) was second. That helped Polson claim the divisional title.

Wenzel finished second at state last year at 132 with the Pirates placing fourth.

Fritsch was third at state at 170 and Pierre fifth at 113.

State Lineup

103 — Gavin Knutson, fr. 19-13

113 — RJ Pierre, sr. 20-6

120 — Kedrick Baker, jr. 15-6

120 — Kellen Norman, fr. 2-3

126 — Maysn Cowell, so. 24-11

126 — Tyren Stidham, fr. 12-9

132 — Jarod Farrier, sr. 16-13

145 — Caleb Pierre, so. 16-14

152 — Bridger Wenzel, sr. 24-4

160 — Garrett Croft, jr. 16-13

160 — Kaleb Unger, jr. 2-3

170 — Hunter Fritsch, sr. 21-1

182 — Logan Adler, fr. 18-7

205 — Aaron O’Roake, fr. 16-13

285 — Jasper Drake, sr. 13-13

Whitefish

The Bulldogs, who had five state qualifiers last year, have doubled that number for 2019.

Ten will be on the mats this time, led by divisional champion Dakota Flannery (138).

Flannery, a junior, owns the best record on the team, 38-5. He also leads the team in pins (26) and takedowns (35).

“Dakota is focused and ready for the state tournament,” Whitefish coach Ryan Boyle said.

“He had the best weekend of the year in Butte at (Western A) divisionals. He is peaking at the right time and we are excited to watch him at the state tournament. He is the first (Whitefish) divisional champion since 2017.”

Sophomore Nathan Sproul (103) was third at divisionals. He is 31-13 and advanced to state last year.

“We are expecting a great state tournament for Nathan,” Boyle said.

“He has a great bracket this weekend and is focused on being on the podium on Saturday.”

Sophomore Camren Ross (152) and Dean Kellogg (120) could both hit the 30-win mark at state. Ross is 29-15 and Kellogg checks in with a 28-14 mark.

Senior Robert Bertelsen (160) is 27-13.

“We really like where Camren finished this last weekend and he has set himself up well in the 152 bracket this weekend,” Boyle said.

Ross was third at divisionals.

“Dean has really stepped up his senior year down the stretch in January,” Boye said. “We are really hoping that he can breakout this year and earn a placing at state.”

On Bertelsen …

“Robert’s wrestling style is the most unique styles I have ever coached and because of that he has the ability to upset some higher seeds at the state tournament,” Boyle said.

State Lineup

Record Div. Place

103 — Nathan Sproul, so. 31-13 3rd

113 — Jackson Carson, jr. 18-15 5th

113 — Carter Moran, fr. 17-17 6th

120 — Dean Kellogg, sr. 28-14 5th

126 — Noah Cooke, fr. 15-27 6th

138 — Dakota Flannery, jr. 38-5 1st

145 — Carlitos Bertelsen, jr. 21-25 8th

152 — Camren Ross, so. 29-15 3rd

160 — Robert Bertelsen, sr. 27-13 6th

205 — Ashton Akey, fr. 6-31 7th

Class B

Eureka

The Lions had four in the state finals a year ago and have three back — champion Gunnar Smith (120) and runner-ups Nathan Schmidt (132) and Hank Dunn (145).

Dunn, a junior, is in the midst of another spectacular season with his 50-3 record. Schmidt, a junior, is 32-2.

Smith, on the other hand, is back in time for the postseason after dealing with an injury.

James Fehr (170) is 35-12. He was sixth last year at state.

Kyle Durden (126), a sophomore, is 37-8.

“We are pleased with our seeding,” Eureka coach Danny Lemer said.

Eureka finished second at state last year.

“Team-wise Colstrip, Glasgow, Huntley and Columbus will be our biggest competition,” Lemer said. “They have an edge with more wrestlers then we do. We will need some of those teams to knock each other off.

“It will be exciting to see how they — Hank Dunn, Kyle Durden, Nathan Schmidt and Gunnar Smith — finish. They all have a favorable road to the semis.”

State Lineup

120 — Gunnar Smith, so. 3-0

126 — Kyle Durden, so. 37-8

132 — Nathan Schmidt, jr. 32-3

145— Hank Dunn, jr. 50-3

145 — Chance Muller, jr. 29-17

152 — Nate Cargil, sr. 27-14

160 — Gavin Pilkington, fr. 27-16

170 — James Fehr, sr. 35-12

182 Johnny Fehr, fr. 11-19

205 Dominic Babcock, fr. 10-16

Bigfork

Sophomore Archie Brevik (152) finished fourth at divisionals to qualify for state.

Bigfork had five wrestlers competing last week in Thompson Falls.

“He wrestled to his seed,” Bigfork coach Shawn Hill said. “He westled were we expected him to be.

“We had a very young team this year, all freshman and sophomores,” Hill continued. “This is a great opportunity for him to experience. It will pay off for our program and for him in the future.”

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