by Thomas Spencer
Under the lone spotlight in the Frenchtown gym, the Western A wrestlers took to the mat to decide who would go to the state tournament next weekend in Billings. Corvallis earned a 7th place finish with 96 closely followed by Hamilton with 88.5 and Stevensville ended with 38 on the day. Stevensville’s Gunnar Larson, wrestling at 120, ended up with an 8th place finish. And his teammate, Jeffery Berryman at 152, managed to snag a 3rd place finish. Both Hamilton and Corvallis claimed several spots on the podium as well.
Hamilton’s Colton Morgan earned the 6th place finish in 103, while Jesse Anson claimed the 4th place finish in 132. Andrew Carmody at 145 placed 5th, Carter Morgan at 160 placed 7th, Noah Guisinger at 170 placed 8th. Above 170 is where the Hamilton team really shined. At 182 Isaac Martinez picked up the 5th place finish and his teammate Derrick Saltzman earned 3rd place. At 205 Trevor Lewis earned a 6th place finish and Cadogan Wheat earned the 3rd place spot.
The Corvallis squad found more success in the lower weight divisions. Wrestling at 113 Luke Nuttall placed 6th, also with a sixth-place finish at 120 was Sean Davis. At 138 Corvallis showed up with a 7th place finish for Nate Davis and a 2nd place finish for Jason Davis who was within striking distance of 1st place but just lost out to Justin Windauer of Columbia Falls. Jonny William wrestling at 160 earned a 2nd place finish and at the 205 weight Bryce Weidow finished in 5th place.
“For the most part as a team, we did not excel,” said Coach Davis. “We had a great couple first rounds and then lost some kids that got upset to get into placing to opponents that they have already beaten a few times and they came up short.” Wrestling at 120 Sean Davis is one example of the shortcoming of previous expectations. “Sean wrestled pretty well overall even though he actually beat the kid that took 3rd at the tournament today in the second round and he lost a close match to get into 3rd-4th and then lost his 5th and 6th place match,” said Coach Davis.
Luke Nuttall and Bryce Weidow also probably didn’t fare the way they had anticipated. “Luke’s performance was great,” said Davis. “He beat a seeded kid to get into the semis and then unfortunately we had to injury default him to 6th place because of a blow to the head.”
“Bryce Weidow wrestled very well,” said Davis. “He also beat the number 2 seed to make it to the semi-finals but then lost back-to-back matches and then pinned his kid for 5th place. So he had a great day since he hasn’t wrestled all season.”
Two Blue Devils, Jason Davis and Jonny William, just missed the 1st place finishes in their weight classes. As for William, “Jonny wrestled great,” said the coach. “We were close to turning him in the second period which would have put us in the lead. But ended up giving an escape and a takedown to fall a little further behind. A few things that we needed to capitalize on and we just didn’t get it done. That is our second close match with him and we thought we were gonna get it done today. So back to work on Monday to hopefully be more prepared at the state tournament.”
“Nate wrestled pretty well,” Davis said of his 7th place 138 lbs. finisher. “He lost to a good kid and then lost a match where we had turned the kid to his back and got rolled through to his back and ended up getting pinned. But then pinned his opponent for 7th place.”
“Jason’s match we knew was gonna be tough,” said Coach Davis. Wrestling at 138 for the divisional championship, both guys were returning state runners up. “We’ve got some work to do this week to defend some things he does very well. We were close to scoring a few times that we didn’t capitalize on, which made it hard to get back as the lead got bigger. So hopefully, he’s ready to get to work to be ready for next weekend and hopefully get another shot at him.”
Coach Davis is positive and looking forward to the State meet next week. “I am proud of all of them and hopefully they learned from this experience. That is one thing about wrestling that there is no guarantee. Not always the best wrestler wins and that’s why every match is wrestled. And now we have one week to get ready for the tournament we have worked for all year. It’s just too bad that a few of our kids that deserved to be going did not make it.”
Wrestlers who place 8th or better are qualified for the state tournament. The All Class State Tournament will be held in Billings this Friday and Saturday.