The Cut Bank Wolves dominated the Bob Kinney Classic in Superior last weekend as they finished first as a team behind 11 individual placers, including three championship finishes.
Sophomore Austin Vanek led the way as he finished the day 4-0 while spending a total of just 3:03 on the mat to not only finish atop the podium but also receive the Quick Pin Award. Vanek opened the 160 lb. bracket with a pin over Gavin Vailancourt of Stevensville and put him on his back in 35 seconds. Vanek then needed just 39 seconds to pin Carter McLees of Superior in the quarterfinals. In his longest match of the tournament, the local grappler pinned Demetrix Ausin of Arlee in 1:12 in the semifinals before taking just 37 seconds to pin Cody Grace of Libby for the title. This is Vanek’s second Quick Pin Award in Superior as he also took the title as a freshman.
Fellow sophomore Matt Larson went 3-0 on the day at 138 lbs. on his way to the title. Larson pinned Seth Doolan of Glacier in 1:30 in the quarterfinals before taking down Charlie Adams of St. Ignatius/Charlo in 1:58 in the semis. In the title match Larson faced off with Conrad Vanderwall of Plains who was a top six finisher at State last year and won the match with a tight 12-11 decision.
Freshman Bradin Murphy, who missed last weekend in Havre due to injury, also ended the weekend with a championship finish going 3-0 on the day at 103 lbs. Murphy pinned Cael Schwindt of Libby in 3:36 in the quarterfinal round before picking up another pinfall victory over Connor Johnson of Glacier High School in 3:22. Murphy earned the championship over Ryder Hansen of Superior with an 8-6 sudden victory.
“For Bradin to come back from injury to win the first tournament of his high school career is quite a feat,” said head coach Cody Fetters. “He showed a lot of heart in his finals match to bounce back against a kid who had beaten him Friday night.”
Sophomore Kierrin Rooney went 2-1 to finish second on the day. Rooney received a first round bye and followed that up with a pin over Ryan Schwegel of Libby in just 33 seconds. In the semifinals, Rooney defeated teammate Tristan Sydenstricker with a second period pin. Kanyon Stoker of Corvallis earned the title at 120 lbs. by pinning Rooney in 3:36.
Sophomore Hunter Kennedy dropped a weight class to 113 lbs. and finished third, going 4-1. Kennedy opened with pins in the first and second round before falling in the semifinals to Decker Milender of Superior. Kennedy bounced back to pin Drew Kernan of Glacier in 1:54 before taking a 10-9 decision over Kadin Brown of Whitefish to earn third place.
“Hunter stepped up big for us dropping to 113 which will help make us a better team,” said Fetters. “He showed a lot of heart in his consolation finals match after he fell behind early to battle back and win 10-9.”
Junior Wes Omsberg went 5-1 in the HWT slot on his way to a third place finish. The local grappler opened with a pin over Rocco Beccari of Glacier in 1:01 before falling in the quarterfinals to Jacob Lapinski of Superior. Omsberg then went on a tear to pin four consecutive opponents, ending with a pin in the consolation final over Aydan Willimanson of Libby to claim third place.
Sydenstricker placed fourth at 120 lbs., going 2-2 on the day. The freshman picked up an opening victory over Carter Moran of Whitefish with a 12-4 major decision before falling to Rooney in the semifinals. He bounced back to reach the consolation finals with a 10-4 decision over Isaiah Fields of St. Ignatius/Charlo before falling to Moran by pinfall in a battle for third.
Sophomore Caleb Simpson placed fourth at 126 lbs. going 3-2 on the day. Simpson dropped his opening round match to Xander Spady of Libby but earned three consecutive victories, two pins and one major decision, to reach the consolation final. Simpson dropped a tight 9-7 decision to Jason Davis of Corvallis to finish fourth.
Sophomore Mariah Wahl also finished fourth at 132 lbs. going 3-2 on the day. She opened with a loss to Adyn Meinzen of Florence but battled back to pin Rusty Gillespie of Libby in just 46 seconds. Wahl then defeated teammate Jacob Hjartarson by pinfall and reached the consolation finals after an injury default. She fell to Canyan Sargent of St. Ignatius/Charlo in a match for third.
Senior Colten Barsness finished fourth at 145 lbs., going 3-2. Barsness won his opening two rounds by pinfall before falling in the semifinals by an 8-1 decision. Barsness bounced back with a win over Wesley Buchanan in the consolation semifinals but fell to Colt Crawford of Arlee in his next match to finish fourth.
Sophomore Jeremy Gallagher rounded out the Wolves’ placers on the weekend as he finshed fourth at 205 lbs., going 4-2. Gallagher picked up a win in his opening match before falling in the quarterfinals. The local grappler then won three straight matches to reach the consolation finals. Gallagher dropped his bout for third place by pinfall to finish fourth.
Cut Bank wrestlers not placing on the weekend included: freshman Elijah Greene, 0-2 at 103; senior Dakota Manecke, 0-2 at 126; freshman Shane Barcus, 1-2 at 132; freshman Jacob Hjartarson, 2-2 at 132; junior Brock Barcus, 1-2 at 145; sophomore Brant Seewald 1-2 at 152; sophomore Raice Strand, 0-2 at 152; junior Dalton Estey, 2-2 at 170; freshman Giovanni Gibson 1-2 at 170; sophomore Alen Nelson, 1-2 at HWT.
“We wrestled pretty well all weekend,” said Fetters. “Friday night at the Superior Mixer we were sluggish, going 21-18 as a team. We knew going into Saturday’s tournament we were going to have to step it up if we wanted to repeat as team champions and we stepped up big with 11 placers. We lost a few matches early in the day that we shouldn’t have but it’s early in the season and that happens. Our goal is to win in February so we will learn from it and move forward.”
The Wolves are slated to duel Browning, Whitefish and Columbia Falls on Thursday in Browning before heading to the CMR Holiday Invitational for the weekend.
“It’s been a long time since Cut Bank has been able to dual and field a full lineup so come to Browning and support the Mighty Wolves Wrestlers,” said Fetters.