Eleven qualify for state meet
The Cut Bank Wolves brought home their first Northern B/C Divisional title in nearly 30 years at last weekend’s tournament in Conrad. The Wolves dominated the field to the tune of 157 points, 55 more than second place Simms, behind championship performances from senior Andrew Andersen and sophomore Matt Larson. The local squad advanced 11 of the 16 grapplers for this weekend’s All-Class State Tournament in Billings.
“We hoped to advance all 16 to the State Tournament but we are excited to be taking 11,” said head coach Cody Fetters. “It’s the most we have taken in a long time! Getting to the State Tournament is an accomplishment in itself, it’s every wrestlers goal, but it’s what you do with the opportunity. We can’t be satisfied with just participating, we need to find another level and be on the podium Saturday night!”
Larson opened with a pin over Shane Soul of Malta in 2:44 to advance to the semifinal round. In the semifinals Larson needed just 1:48 to pin Bayley Genereux of Fort Benton to advance to the finals where he pinned Joe Ramos of Valier to claim the title at 138.
Andersen made short work of Dakota Dixon of Simms, pinning his opening round opponent in 1:06. In the semifinals Andersen pinned Morgan Axtman of Fort Benton in 2:53 to advance to the championship round. Andersen picked up an 11-5 decision over Miguel Perez of Fairfield to win the 152-lb. title.
Kierrin Rooney and Austin Vanek also reached the title match in their respective weight classes but fell just short of the title.
Rooney opened with a major decision over Lane Snider of Chinook, 15-1, to advance to the semifinals. Rooney took on top seeded Brady Barnhill of Conrad in the semis and the local grappler picked up an 8-3 decision to advance to the championship where he dropped a tight 9-7 decision to finish second at 120.
“Kierrin had a big weekend for us,” said Fetters. “He got the momentum rolling for us with his big semifinal win and after that we never looked back.”
Vanek needed just 35 seconds to pin Giavante Evens of Fairfield in his quarterfinal match at 160 to reach the semifinals. Vanek’s next victim was Colter Ball of Fort Benton as the local sophomore pinned him in 1:57. In the title match Vanek fell to Callan Mears of Malta in a tight 11-9 decision to finish second.
Four Cut Bank grapplers placed third as Bradin Murphy, Hunter Kennedy, Jacob Hjartarson and Colten Barsness will also be making the trek to Billings.
Murphy dropped his semifinal match at 103 to Max Giles of Fairfield but bounced back in the consolation semifinals to pin Harley Wade of Simms to punch his ticket. Murphy followed that up with a 6-1 decision over teammate Elijah Greene of Cut Bank to claim third place.
Greene will also be headed to State after his fourth place finish at 103. He opened with a third period pin over Wade of Simms before dropping his semifinal match to Trevor O’Hara of Fort Benton, his loss to Murphy gave him a top four finish and a ticket to the State Tournament.
Kennedy, wrestling at 113, fell to Cameron Mikesell of Malta in the semifinal round but rebounded to pin Rebecca Stroh of Chinook in the consolation final to take third place.
Barsness dropped his quarterfinal match to Camryn Mears of Malta by pinfall in 4:44. The local senior bounced back to pin Malaki Hvamsted of Fairfield in the consolation semifinals and then earned a 6-2 decision over Tyler Larson of Shelby to claim third place at 145.
Hjartarson dropped his opening match at 132 to Drake Berreth of Chinook in a tight 7-6 decision. The Cut Bank freshman then reeled off four straight pins to claim third place. Hjartarson needed just 12 seconds to pin Berlin Larson of Shelby to stay alive after his opening round loss. Hjartarson then pinned Darrius Longknife of Harlem in 1:45 followed by a pin over Ryder Cole of CJI to reach the consolation final where he pinned Fairfield’s Gage Banner in 2:02 to secure his spot on the podium.
“Jacob had an amazing day,” said Fetters. “After losing his match by one point he stepped up huge for us and never lost again!”
Along with Greene, Tristan Sydenstricker and Caleb Simpson also advanced to State with fourth place finishes.
Sydenstricker fell to his opening round opponent, Jeff Colesworthy of Conrad with a 12-10 decision. The Cut Bank freshman bounced back with pins over Tannin Baumann of Fort Benton and Brady Barnhill to reach the consolation final where he dropped an 8-5 decision to finish fourth at 120.
Simpson pinned Chase Evans of Shelby in his first round match in 3:30 before falling to Harold Miller of Shelby in the semifinals. Simpson dominated Aiden Copenhaver of Fairfield in the consolation semifinals with a 16-5 major decision before falling to Dayne Sullivan of Simms in a battle for third to finish fourth at 126.
Mariah Wahl (132) and Jeremy Gallagher (205) both finished just shy of advancing to State as both finished fifth.
Wahl opened with a pin over Longknife of Harlem in just 1:04 before falling to Berrerth of Chinook in the semifinals with a late third period pin. Wahl was defeated 12-8 in the consolation semifinals, ending her bid for State but she did bounce back to pin Ryder Cole of CJI in 1:25 to claim fifth.
Gallagher fell in his first round match to Mikkel Rider of Harlem and then was defeated by Lane Hinderager of Simms in the consolation semifinals. Gallagher ended his season with a win as he pinned Dre Oshio of Malta in 1:51.
Wes Omsberg placed sixth at 285, opening with a pin over Brock Hanford of Fort Benton in 2:44. In the semifinals Omsberg dropped a 2-1 decision to Wyatt Dunbar of Chinook. Stetson LeFurgey of Fort Benton ended Omsberg’s chances for State with a pin in 1:25 and the local grappler closed out the season with a loss to Thomas Troy of Fairfield.
Brant Seewald (152) and Brock Barcus (138) both went 0-2 to end their season at the Divisional Tournament.
“I knew going in that we were the heavy favorite but after our first two matches I started to have a seed of doubt,” said Fetters. “We had a slw start and then we struggled to get a couple wins that should have been easy. Eli Greene told the team Friday night that we worked way too hard to finish 0-2 and when he got his win I knew we were going to be fine! Our kids stepped up huge after the first round. They won big matches and those that came up short left everything they had on the mat!”
This was Cut Bank’s first Divisional title since the 1992-93 season. While there have been many second and third place finishes, the Wolves finally regained their championship form in what was the final Northern Divisional Tournament. Beginning next season there will be just two divisions, an East and West.
The State Tournament, held at the Metra in Billings begins Friday morning with the Parade of Athletes at 10 a.m. First round matches are slated to begin at 10:20 a.m. Saturday’s action kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with Championship matches slated for 3:15 p.m.