CASCADE -- Cascade has built a rich wrestling tradition over the past decade. Under head coach Jason Lorang, the Badgers claimed the 2017 Class C state title and have finished sixth or better in each of the last six seasons.
The Cascade boys are once again expected to compete for state hardware, led by returning state placer Caden Crowell who placed fifth at 170 pounds last year but will be competing at heavyweight in 2020.
“This is a high-potential team,” Crowell said. “Like, we got a lot of wrestlers that are coming back. Three of us went to state last year. I think all of us will make it this year.”
In 2020, Cascade finished fifth behind Circle, Superior, Chinook and Simms. The Circle Wildcats are the three-time defending Class C champs and claimed the top spot in Class C by nearly 50 points.
Cascade will be helped this year by a new postseason format. Instead of four district tournaments with four state qualifiers from each, Class B-C teams will be divided into two super-divisions with eight qualifiers advancing to state.
The Badgers have the talent to qualify each of their seven boys wrestlers in this new format.
“I think we can compete with Circle. I think we can compete with Superior, Simms and all them guys,” Lorang said. “I think we got a shot to bring a state trophy home for sure.”
The 2020-21 season also marks the first year of girls wrestling as a Montana High School Association-sanctioned sport, and the Badgers could reasonably be considered state title favorites.
Turnout varies across the state, but the Badgers have three girls in the room, which is a very good for a Class C school. What’s more: They return arguably the most accomplished female wrestler in the state in Lily Grismer and another experienced wrestler in Lindsey Faldszinski.
Bailee Jones is a newcomer to the wrestling room but brings athleticism after an all-state season for the Cascade volleyball team.
“I don't really know what to expect for this year,” Grismer said. “I know we’ll mostly be competing with boys during the regular season, and the girls brackets are going to be probably pretty big at state. And it's good. I'm glad to experience it.”
“You never know what the girls division is going to look like numbers-wise,” Lorang said. “But I think with those three girls, we got the opportunity to do some good things on the girls side of the tournament as well.”
With the postseason venue up in the air and competition limited to duals and mixers due to COVID-19 protocols, the biggest challenge for every team is to stay healthy and motivated during an odd year.
That shouldn’t be a problem for the Badgers.
“Everyone’s the same in here. It doesn't matter what gender you are,” Faldzinski said. “We all push each other all the same. Everyone's here to win at the end of the day. Everyone is going to do really good this year.”