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Lucky No. 13: Glasgow Scotties win another wrestling title; Circle Wildcats 3-peat

Dylan Nieskens
Posted at 10:43 PM, Feb 15, 2020

BILLINGS -- Forget superstition, 13 is lucky in Glasgow.

The storied Scotties wrestling program won a 13th Class B state championship on Saturday at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark, storming past the likes of Huntley Project, Eureka and Whitehall.

Glasgow scored 154 points, while Huntley Project was second at 134. Eureka finished third with 126.

"It feels amazing, I can't really describe how it feels right now," said Glasgow's Dylan Nieskens, moments after winning the 182-pound title. "It's crazy. I'm so happy right now. There's nothing else I can say about that."

Nieskens' win was a hard-fought battle against Florence's Kyler Alm, who overcame a serious head injury suffered two football seasons back to become a state finalist. But Nieskens managed a 3-1 decision, one of three Glasgow championships.

"I knew (Alm) was strong, stocky, I would have to wrestle smart and keep the pressure going the whole time," Nieskens said. "Have a good match, that's what I was thinking."

Glasgow tied Eureka with four athletes in the finals on Saturday, with Nieskens joined by Colten Fast (132) and Cooper Larson (205) as individual champions. Mayson Phipps finished runner-up to Huntley Project's Journey Grimsrud in the heavyweight bout.

The Scotties began the day by winning every match, championship and consolation bracket, to pull away in the team standings.

"That was really important. Our guys in the wrestlebacks scored a lot of points for us, that really set the tone. It's great, amazing," said Nieskens.

PHOTOS: WRESTLERS EARN GOLD SATURDAY

Huntley Project split its championship matches, with Grimsrud needing only 2 minutes, 42 seconds to pin Phipps. Freshman Gavin Nedens fell to Anaconda's Nate Blodnick in the 103-pound championship.

"Getting second sucks," Grimsrud said, referencing last season's finish behind Colstrip's Trey Yates. "Us three (Grimsrud, Phipps and Yates), there's a lot of respect and the matches are always pretty interesting."

"It's amazing. I don't know many state champions from Anaconda, so this one is a good feeling," Blodnick said of his title. "I knew (Nedens) had a good double-leg shot, so I tried to defend that as much as I could, and then when it got to the third period at 0-0, I knew I had to get away to get that point and the lead."

"I looked over, saw the time was out and got a nice fist pump," Blodnick continued, discussing his celebration. "It felt amazing."

A successful first day positioned Eureka in the trophy race, and the Lions made sure to seize the opportunity during Saturday's championship round. Gunnar Smith won his third state title in a row by pinning Conrad's Roper Mycke in only 1:02, while Kyle Durden started the round with a runner-up placing at 132.

Nathan Schmidt's title at 138 pounds was followed by Hank Dunn's championship in the 152-pound division, leading to Smith's finish at 126 pounds.

"It's a real blessing from God. It's so cool," said Smith. "I just love the feeling after every single one. It's just the same excitement each time, and it's awesome."

"There is a three-timer (from Eureka) at least one time, but there aren't any four-timers," he continued, discussing next season's four-peat chase.

One of the best matchups in the Class B-C bracket came in the 170-pound championship, where St. Ignatius-Charlo's Isaiah Allik entered the tournament with a 38-0 record. He was paired against Shepherd's Nate Gorham, who was 38-1.

Allik won a hard-fought 5-4 decision to bring the championship back home to western Montana.

"I don't have anything to say, really. I'm kind of still at a loss for words. It's so surreal," Allik said. "We worked so hard for it, not only me, but everybody -- my whole team, they pushed me to get to this point and I couldn't be any more proud of them."

"I've dreamed of this since I started wrestling when I was 5 years old. I just wanted to put the icing on the cake," added Allik.

Class C also hands out a team trophy in the B-C division, which again went to the Circle Wildcats. The eastern Montana squad won a third straight title and will return all five state qualifiers next season.

Two Wildcats -- Cole Becker and Krayle Stormer -- were finalists on Saturday, each winning titles to help Circle add to its team total. The Wildcats had already secured the Class C title prior to the championship rounds.

Becker's championship didn't come without drama, however, as he and Whitehall's Dallen Hoover were tied at 5-all in the final seconds, with Hoover owning position following a late take-down. But Becker managed an escape point near the out-of-bounds barrier just prior to time expiring, winning the match 6-5.

"I gave up a take-down, I shot in and just didn't get the right position, he ended up getting a take-down. So I thought, 'All right, you've got 30 seconds to get out,' and I guess I waited until the final second. We got close to the edge, and I thought I had it, but the ref didn't award it at first, but when he said, 'One, escape,' I knew I had it," Becker said. "It's fun. Our first year we doubled the team points, the second year we scored three times the amount, and I haven't checked since the second-to-last round, but we were still in the lead and it's amazing to win our third in a row."

Stormer repeated as a Class B-C state champion, earning an 8-6 decision over Fairfield's Miguel Ramos.

Other winners Saturday included Thompson Falls' Trae Thilmony (120) and Colstrip's Rylin Burns (160).

To view the complete results from the Class B-C wrestling championships, please click here. Scroll through the videos above to watch video highlights from around the state.