BILLINGS -- There wasn't much Guy Melby had to tell his team this week that the wrestlers from Sidney didn't already know. Still, even one of the most decorated wrestling coaches in Montana had to be impressed with what he saw Friday at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark.
Sixteen of Sidney's 17 wrestlers won first-round matches, with 12 of those grapplers advancing past the quarterfinals and securing berths in Saturday morning's semifinals.
The astounding numbers are even more impressive when noting the Eagles have two wrestlers in both the 103- and 132-pound brackets. Owen Lonski and Kaden Wise are one win away from championship trips at 103, while Everett Jensen and Jordan Darby can do the same at 132.
Zander Dean (113 pounds), Kaiden Cline (120), Zander Burnison (138), Aden Graves (145), Dylan Lutz (160), Riley Waters (182), Jett Jones (205) and Brodey Skogen (285) are also semifinalists for Melby's club.
"We're trying to beat our record from last year," admitted Dean, discussing Sidney's Class A state record of 310.5 points scored at the 2019 state tournament. "We just have to keep wrestling hard, win all of our matches."
The Eagles just missed the halfway point of that goal Friday but would be well on their way with semifinal victories on Saturday. Sidney leads Miles City and Frenchtown, who both scored 83.5, by 64 points.
"He just keeps saying, 'Foot on the pedal. Go hard and don't let anything up,'" Dean said of Melby's advice for the Eagles.
Frenchtown will look to separate itself from Miles City on Saturday morning with six wrestlers set for semifinal matches. Landen Stewart, Walker Dyer, Eli Warner and Jake Bibler will compete in the first four weight classes, with Bibler chasing his fourth title.
Canyon Shope and Tate Jones will represent the Broncs at 182 and 205 pounds, respectively.
Miles City's Currey Brown gets the daunting task of meeting Bibler in the semifinals, while Lewistown's Cooper Birdwell, a two-time champion who is unbeaten in Class A on the year, likely awaits in the championship round. Birdwell's Eagles sit fifth after Day 1 with 71.5 points.
Miles City's Damian Leidholt (138) seems to be the Cowboys' best chance at an individual title, though heavyweight Tyler Harms could also make a push.
Laurel will also look to jump into the team trophy race, after finishing with a fourth-place effort of 72 points Friday. Keagan Campbell (138), Keagan Thompson (145) and Cameron Younger (182) are set for semifinal matches Saturday.
Perennial power Havre, which brought on Box Elder wrestlers, is in sixth place with 69.5 points and five semifinalists -- Mick Chagnon (113), Riley Pleninger (120), Cameron Pleninger (132), Connor Harris (152) and Orion Thivierge (160).
Other semifinalists include state placers Cooper Hoffman of Dillon and Nelson Crisafulli of Glendive at 170 pounds. Both finished runner-up a year ago -- Hoffman at 160, Crisafulli at 170.
For complete results from Day 1 of the Class A state wrestling tournament, please click here. Scroll through the videos above for highlights from around the state.