Wrestlers Roll into All-Class State Meet with Championship Aspirations

Flathead taking 22 athletes to Class AA tourney; Columbia Falls qualifies 16 wrestlers

By Dillon Tabish
Assistant coach Jeff Anderson demonstrates techniques with Payton Hume as Trae Vasquez watches during Flathead High School wrestling practice. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

High school grapplers from across Montana are converging on Billings this weekend for the state championship meet at the MetraPark.

Flathead is hoping to climb back on top of the Class AA ranks. The top-ranked team qualified 22 athletes for state at last weekend’s Western AA seeding tournament in Helena. Flathead won with 22 points, edging Missoula Big Sky, which had 20. The local squad had seven individual divisional winners: Hunter Rush (103), Bryce Shaffer (113), Tanner Russell (126), Trae Vasquez (132), Payton Hume (152), Tucker Nadeau (170) and Michael Lee (285).

Glacier is sending 14 athletes to state, including divisional champ Justin Gibson (138).

Flathead is chasing its first team state championship since 2010. Billings Senior is the defending champ.

In Class A, Columbia Falls won its fifth consecutive Western A divisional title. The MatCats tallied 227 points in Dillon last weekend. Polson was second with 203 points.

Columbia Falls qualified 16 athletes for state, including divisional winner Ben Windauer (145) and runners-up Mason Fetters (152) and Winfield West (120).

Polson qualified 14 wrestlers, including divisional champs Hunter Fritsch (160) and Parker Adler (138) and runners-up Bridger Wenzel (126) and Kedrick Baker (103).

Whitefish, led by divisional champ Travis Catina (205), placed eighth as a team with 80.5 points.

Havre is the four-time defending Class A team champ.

In Class B, Eureka claimed its third consecutive Western B/C divisional wrestling tournament, piling up 232 points. The Lions had seven individual champs: Kahden Bakkila (120); Jonathan Schmidt (138); James Dunn (145); Cannan Smith (152); Garrett Graves (182); Joe Fehr (205); and Kaelen Yanak (285).

Ronan placed second with 140.5 points and Libby was third, 118.5. Libby’s Buddy Doolin won at 103 pounds.

Bigfork placed seventh with 62 points and Matt Farrier was the top finisher, placing second at 170 pounds.

Colstrip is the defending Class B champ.