With eight conference champions and 25 state tournament qualifiers, Flathead High School is again the team to beat for the Class AA wrestling championship. The Braves, the three-time defending champions, dominated this weekend’s Western AA divisional seeding tournament at Glacier High School. Next up is the state tournament at the Billings MetraPark on Feb. 13 and 14.
Flathead almost had a ninth conference champion, but heavyweight Tyler Thomas narrowly lost his title match, dropping a 5-3 decision against defending state champion Toby Erickson. Glacier had a good showing as well, sending 22 wrestlers on to state, the second most overall. The Wolfpack had five finalists and one champion: John Frandsen in the 215-pound division. Missoula Sentinel qualified 18 wrestlers, including three champions.
With Glacier and Flathead combined, Kalispell is sending 47 wrestlers to the state tournament, an impressive feat. This area’s wrestling tradition is no secret, as the Flathead Braves have been the best wrestling team in the state for the past three years. Last year, they were ranked as one of the top 10 programs in the nation. It’s hard to imagine how good Flathead’s wrestling program would be this year if Kalispell still only had one school. Meanwhile, Glacier is building its own tradition.
Of Flathead’s eight divisional champions this year, two are former state champions: Tanner Beaman (135) and Bryce Stacy (160.) Thomas, the heavyweight, is the returning runner-up. Last year in the state championship match he was pinned by Erickson, who beat him again at divisionals this weekend.
Among Flathead’s new qualifiers are the Calderon brothers: Alejandro and Joaquin, who won titles in the 119-pound and 125-pound divisions, respectively. As a team, Flathead dominated the middleweight divisions, which are known to have the toughest classes in high school wrestling. The Braves took the titles in the following weight classes: 119, 125, 130, 135, 145, 152 and 160.
Here’s a look at all of Flathead’s champions:
Zach Reimnitz – 105 pounds
Alejandro Calderon – 119 pounds
Joaquin Calderon – 125 pounds
Shawn Lau – 130 pounds
Tanner Beaman – 135 pounds
Caleb Allen-Schmid – 145 pounds
Ryan Thiel – 152 pounds
Bryce Stacy – 160 pounds
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