The Cut Bank Wolves won their first Cut Bank Booster Invitational since 1984 thanks to five individual championship performances. Austin Vanek, Ty Curry, Richard Schmidt, Kanon Branch and Alex Wahl all reached the top of the podium and several other Wolves placed in the 23-team tournament.
“We had a great weekend from start to finish and it was a total team effort,” said head coach Cody Fetters. “We finished Friday in first place and had seven in the semifinals and another five scrapping it out in the consolation bracket. I liked our odds to be in the hunt for the team title.”
Before the holiday break the Wolves were in a similar position at the CMR Holiday Classic after the opening day but struggled on Saturday to fall out of the hunt for team hardware. This past weekend the Wolves took care of business as they suffered only two losses in the semifinals, one coming when Branch had to wrestle teammate Caleb Simpson with a finals berth on the line. Simpson bounced back to place fifth for the Wolves.
Schmidt was the first Cut Bank grappler to claim a title as he pinned Ruben Nelson of Circle in the semis in 1:30 and followed that with a pin over Izaak Munski of Cascade in the second period to earn the title at 103.
Wahl reached the finals in one of the toughest brackets in the tournament, at 132. In the semifinals the local freshman faced off with multi-state placer Miguel Ramos of Fairfield and squeezed out a 5-4 decision. Wahl fed off of Schmidt’s momentum and pinned Kason Olson of Fergus in 2:20 to earn the championship. Wahl’s effort earned him the Outstanding Wrestler award for the lower weight classes.
Branch pinned his teammate Simpson in the semifinal round at 138. Branch followed that up with a dominating 8-2 decision in the finals over Bryson Bartleson of Circle.
“Kanon had an awesome tournament,” said Fetters. “He worked his tail off all Chirstmas break and it paid off big for him.”
Curry defeated John Armstrong of Jefferson in the semifinals by a 4-2 decision at 152. Curry scored early in his finals match against Canyon Casterline of Circle and controlled the tempo of the match. Curry suffered a sprained ankle and gave up a reversal late in the match but was able to hold his lead over the final ten seconds for a 6-5 victory.
Vanek had a busy day on and off the mat for the Wolves. Following his first period pin over Connor Sawyer of Cascade in the semifinals, Vanek signed his letter of intent to continue his academic and athletic career at MSU-Northern. Vanek returned to the mat and pinned Camryn Mears of Malta in the third period to continue his undefeated season.
“Austin has worked extremely hard and dedicated hundreds of hours to wrestling,” said Fetters. “He has become the most dominating 182 pounder in the state, regardless of class.”
Bradin Murphy took fourth at 113, going 4-2 on the weekend.
“Bradin wrestled tough but he has a few things to clean up,” said Fetters. “This was his first tournament of the season so we expected a little rust, but he will be ready for the postseason.”
Kellan Cassidy placed fifth at 120, also going 4-2 on the weekend.
“Kellan had a great weekend,” said Fetters. “Just placing in the Cut Bank Booster as a freshman is a feat!”
Matt Larson had a tough loss in the semifinals as he was pinned in the third period. Larson bounced back and needed just 14 seconds in the consolation semifinals to pin Shawn Gilkerson of Malta. In the battle for third Larson pinned Harold Miller of Shelby in 2:05.
Simpson bounced back from his loss to Branch in the semifinals to pin Kameron Reum of Poplar in 4:23 to place fifth.
“Caleb had a great tournament,” said Fetters. “It’s great that we have two tough kids at 138. Both of them still score at divisionals and state!”
Jeremy Gallgher lost in the quarterfinals but won back-to-back matches to get into the consolation final where he fell to Jacob Berger of Poplar with a 2-1 decision.
“Jeremy has steadily improved all year and will be a force for us in the postseason,” said Fetters.
Tristan Sydenstricker went 0-2 for the Wolves, Raice Strand was 2-2, Jacob Hjartarson was 1-2, Wyatt Michaels was 0-2, Ashton Cassidy was 2-2, Ethan Sullivan went 1-2 and Ron Grant finished the tournament 0-2 to round out the Cut Bank weekend.
Mariah Wahl ran the table at the first Cut Bank Booster Girls Wrestling Invitational last weekend as she went 5-0 to remain undefeated on the season. Haylee Fetters went 1-2 and placed third for the Lady Wolves while Madison Price was sixth at 0-5.
Wahl had her longest match of the day in her opening round as she needed 3:20 to pin Precious Keiser of Poplar. The local grappler pinned her teammate, Price, in 25 seconds and then needed just 29 seconds to pin Lidia D’hooge of Fergus. Wahl pinned Morgan Feist of Simms in 43 seconds and ended her weekend by pinning Amelia Blackcrow of Harlem in 1:20.
Fetters fell to Aaliyah Stiffarm of Havre as she was pinned in the second period. Skye Smith of Cascade pinned Fetters in 1:21 but then Fetters bounced back as she pinned Claire Laird of Havre to place third.
Price was pinned by D’Hooge in 56 seconds in her opener followed by her 25 second match with her teammate Wahl. Feist of Simms pinned Price in 28 seconds, Blackcrow pinned Price in 20 seconds and Keiser ended the weekend with a 42-second pin over Price.
The Lady Wolves placed fifth out of 13 teams.
The Wolves will hit the mat again this weekend as they travel to the Choteau Classic.
For more Cut Bank High School sports coverage of last week’s action, pick up a copy or subscribe to the Cut Bank Pioneer Press at