The Montana high school wrestling postseason has already had a different look and feel in 2021. That will continue on Friday when the state tournaments get started at three separate sites.
Brackets and schedules for all three tournaments -- State AA at Kalispell Flathead, State A at Miles City and State B/C at Shelby -- were released over the weekend. Wrestling starts Friday morning at all three tournaments.
The Class AA state tournament begins at 8:30 a.m. with its pigtail rounds, the new format for this year's tournament that brought 20 wrestlers per weight class to state instead of the traditional 16. Wrestlers were seeded by Class AA coaches at a seeding meeting last week.
The first session will include wrestlers in the 103-pound through 145-pound brackets. Once the single-elimination pigtail matches are finished Friday morning, the mats at Flathead will be sanitized before the Round of 16 begins at 9:15 a.m. Competitors will work through the quarterfinal round and the second round of wrestlebacks, completing their first day of work by 1 p.m.
Officials will then clear and clean the gym, and the second session, which will feature wrestlers from 152 pounds to heavyweight, will begin at 2 p.m.
Saturday's session begins for all weight classes at 9 a.m. with the semifinal matches. The championship bouts are scheduled to start at approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Class A tournament at Miles City and Class B/C tournament at Shelby will follow similar schedules to Class AA, minus the pigtail matches. The Class A and Class B/C divisional tournaments were last weekend, with Sidney, Frenchtown, Jefferson and Huntley Project earning team titles.
Both the Class A and Class B/C tournaments will start at 9 a.m. Friday with the first session featuring the 103-pound through 145-pound brackets. The 152-heavyweight weight classes will begin the second session at 2 p.m. Both sessions will compete through the quarterfinal rounds and second rounds of wrestlebacks.
The third session will begin with the semifinal matches at 9 a.m. Saturday. Championship matches are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.
Great Falls High, Sidney, Glasgow and Circle are the reigning team champions. Sidney and Circle are each aiming for their fourth consecutive state titles at the Class A and Class C levels, while Lewistown's Cooper Birdwell and Eureka's Gunnar Smith are seeking to become four-time individual state champions.
Birdwell enters the 132-pound Class A state bracket with a 40-0 record. He starts his state meet against Nate Young of Ronan.
Smith, meanwhile, is a No. 2 seed in the Class B/C 132-pound bracket. He lost to Thompson Falls' Trae Thilmony in the championship at last week's Western B/C divisional tournament. Smith begins his state tournament against Baker's Donnie Steen.
Brackets for the state wrestling tournaments can be viewed here:
Brackets can also be viewed at www.trackwrestling.com, where they will be updated throughout the tournaments. Livestreams of the tournaments are also available at www.nfhsnetwork.com, and detailed event schedules can be found at www.mhsa.org.
Spectator limits are in place for the state tournaments, and tickets are distributed by individual schools.