Cut Bank has themselves a new State Champion as local junior Mariah Wahl dominated the field at the first Montana All-Class Girls Wrestling Tournament. Wahl spent just 1:39 on the mat as she pinned all four of her opponents to earn the first championship awarded at 138 pounds.
Wahl entered at the top seed, having gone undefeated during the regular season and quickly proved why as she pinned Kayla Peterson of Glacier High School in just 10 seconds.
“The pressure of being the top seed was intense,” said Wahl. “But I just tried to remain focused.”
In the quarterfinal round Wahl needed a mere nine seconds to pin Kera Moreno of Butte, earning her the Quick Pin Award for the weekend. The second fastest pin of the tournament was her first round match.
Wahl faced off with Shelby Miotke of Frenchtown in the semifinals and pinned her in 24 seconds to earn a spot in the title match. In the championship Wahl took on Maria Matosich of Gallatin High School. Wahl took away any hopes of an upset as she pinned Matosich in 56 seconds to earn the top spot on the podium.
“After they called the pin my first thought was to make it off the mat before I started crying,” said Wahl. “It was just an overwhelming moment and it’s hard to recall exactly what happened.”
“I was so happy for Mariah,” said head coach Cody Fetters. “She has spent the last two years battling with the boys and never once did she want to give up. I knew back in February of last year when they sanctioned girls wrestling as it’s own sport that Cut Bank would have a State Champion. Mariah has put the time in and it has paid off.”
First year wrestler JJ Carter also earned a spot on the podium as she placed sixth for the Lady Wolves.
Carter pinned her quarterfinal opponent, Audrey Goodsell of Glacier High School, in 1:27 to advance to the semifinals. Carter was pinned by Lillian MacDonald of Plains in the semis in 1:21 and crossed over to the consolation semifinal. With a berth to the consolation final on the line Carter fell to Dakota Peterson of East Helena in 2:26 to drop to the 5/6 match. Carter wrapped up her season falling to Anna Stutz of Choteau in 1:47 to take sixth place.
“JJ wrestled great,” said coach Fetters. “Winning her first match with a pin guaranteed her a medal”
Freshman Haylee Fetters was pinned in her opening round match by Norah Larson of Belgrade in 45 seconds to drop to the consolation bracket. Fetters faced off with Aaliyah Stiffarm of Havre in the consolation round and was pinned in 2:06.
“Haylee battled hard but fell one match short of placing,” said Coach Fetters.
A total of 148 grapplers competed in the first State Tournament and Fetters said it was as even of a field as he has ever seen at a wrestling tournament in all of his years at the helm.
“If we wrestled the same tournament again the top six in each weight class would look different...except for 138 of course,” he said. “Except for a select few all of the girls were at about the same level. I am so proud of our three girls. They worked hard all year and they are the start of a new tradition in Cut Bank. I would like to thank everyone who came out Sunday afternoon to show these girls support as we rolled into town. Cut Bank Pride!”
Looking back on a first season of girls wrestling as it’s own sport Wahl is excited for the future of the Lady Wolves and is expecting a larger turnout next season.
“I believe there will be a larger number of girls out next year,” she said. “I would advise anyone interested that with the numbers and hard work there is a chance to win a team title. Anyone can wrestle if they want to, it just takes time and dedication. It was exciting to see this season that other girls are willing to put in the work. I am thankful for my teammates, JJ and Haylee, because this will help with the exposure for girls that want to join the sport without having to wrestle boys. I am thankful for our coaches, Fetters and Kevin Bundy, that they are willing to put their time and effort into us girls this season.”
The Cut Bank boys will take their turn on the mat for tournaments at home as they host the Western Class B Divisional this weekend. (See related story in this week’s issue.) The top eight wrestlers from each weight class will advance to the State Championship meet in Shelby next week.