Regional Wrestlers Head to State

By Beacon Staff

If last weekend’s divisional wrestling tournaments are any indication, the Flathead Valley is going to be a force to be reckoned with at state.

Dozens of Flathead wrestlers qualified for the Feb. 11-12 Class AA and A state tournaments, including a long list of No. 1 seeds. The AA tourney is at CM Russell High School in Great Falls and the A tourney is at the Butte Civic Center. The Class B/C tournament, also on Feb. 11-12, will be held at Hamilton High School.

At the Feb. 4-5 Western AA seeding tournament, five-time defending state champion Flathead High School qualified 20 wrestlers for state. Six Braves wrestlers won their weight divisions to secure No. 1 seeds: Caleb Piasecki at 119 pounds, Cody Tally at 125, Steel Hahn at 152, Larry Francis at 160, Josh Erickson at 171 and Connor Thomas at 285.

Thomas won a 3-1 decision over Helena High’s Tucker Erickson, the defending heavyweight champion who is considered Thomas’ stiffest competition for this year’s state crown.

Glacier qualified 21 wrestlers, including four champions. The Wolfpack’s top seeds are Kaleb Mitchell (105), Lucas Mantel (130), Boyce Ballard (189) and Mack Sutherland (215). The majority of Glacier’s qualifiers placed in the top four.

Polson won the Northwestern A divisional tournament, led by six individual champions and a number of top-three finishers. The Pirates finished with 232 points, followed by second-place Columbia Falls with 200. Rounding out the top five were Libby with 161, Ronan with 145 and Whitefish with 24.

The Pirates’ No. 1 seeds at the state tournament will be Carlos Quinones (98), Dylan Moll (105), Craig Feistner (112), Jacob Young (135), Mike Devlin (152) and Josiah Clairmont (285). Young was the only Pirate not to win by pin.

Columbia Falls turned in a balanced team effort to claim second place. Leading the way were individual champions Sal Baccaro at 119 pounds and Justin Whitman at 125. Baccaro pinned Columbia Falls’ Andrew Teigen, one of the many pins in the championship round.

Libby’s champions were Kyle Leir (140) and Dylan Berget (160), who both pinned Columbia Falls opponents to claim their titles.

Ronan had five individual champions, led by 189-pound Toby Cheff, who has been among the top wrestlers at his weight class for the past two years. Cheff pinned Columbia Falls’ Marcus Ross in the championship.

Ronan’s other top seeds are Nate Brooks (130), Dustin Goldsby (145), Cole McArthur (171) and Colby Roberts (215).

No Whitefish wrestlers made it to the championship round, though several Bulldogs placed in the top four after qualifying for the consolation finals.

Elsewhere in the state, Billings Skyview qualified the most wrestlers out of Eastern AA with 23. Skyview had six individual champions. Bozeman will send 22 wrestlers to state, while Billings Senior and Great Falls both have 18. Skyview won the AA title in 2005, the last time a team other than Flathead was champion.

In Eastern A, Laurel was the divisional champion, followed by Glendive and Miles City. Corvallis edged Frenchtown for the Southwestern A crown, while Havre beat out Belgrade and Lewistown for the Central A team title. Havre is the four-time defending state champion in Class A.

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