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Sidney Eagles wrestling crowns 7, breaks own record en route to Class A title

Riley Waters
Posted at 10:14 PM, Feb 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-16 03:14:24-05

BILLINGS -- When the Sidney wrestling team set a new Class A scoring record during the 2019 state tournament, it was considered impressive.

Let's call this weekend's effort astonishing.

The Eagles racked up 340 team points to break their own record, while crowning seven individual champions to run away with the Class A team championship Saturday at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark. It's the 11th title in program history and third in a row.

"It's kind of unbelievable. I don't even know what to say about it other than it was a really dominating performance," said Eagles coach Guy Melby. "I'm so happy for our guys, they deserve every bit of it. Everybody says, 'Hey, that's a great three months,' but for us, it's a great 12 months because that's what it takes to do something like that."

"I'm very happy for them," Melby continued. "I'm happy for our seniors to go out, we had two state champions (Kaiden Cline and Jett Jones) as seniors, and then Everett Jensen ended up in fourth, so that's a great way to end their careers."


The Eagles wasted little time getting to work during Saturday's championship round, with Jordan Darby winning the 132-pound championship over Havre's Cameron Pleninger. After a quick break, Sidney was back on the mats at 145 pounds with Aden Graves' second title in as many years.

Four matches later, Sidney started a string of six consecutive matches from 182 pounds to 120, winning five of the six. Riley Waters (182), Jett Jones (205), Brodey Skogen (285), Owen Lonski (103) and Kaiden Cline (120) all won gold, while Zander Dean (113) finished runner-up.

Jones finished his senior season undefeated after pinning Frenchtown's Tate Jones.

"I was a little worried after the first period, nobody scored any points. In the second period, as soon as he locked up that cradle, I knew I was going to pin him," said Sidney's Jones. "Just out-hustle him, out-work him like we always do. Sidney is known for that."

"It's awesome. It's like a dual because all of us are in it," Jones continued. "It's fun to watch."

While Sidney's dominance was on full display, the most dramatic moment of the evening came in the final match on the Class A mats. Frenchtown's Jake Bibler, aiming to join Bozeman's Leif Schroeder as a four-time state champion, met Lewistown's Cooper Birdwell, a junior and two-time champ.

After feeling each other out early, Birdwell took control and built an 8-1 lead as Bibler took an injury timeout while coaches examined his shoulder. But the Frenchtown senior continued the match, though his four-peat dreams were dashed as Birdwell showcased a dominant 15-2 win.

"I wanted to stay in good position and keep the pace, and I believed in my coaches and training, so I knew if I wrestled how I knew how, it would work out," said Birdwell, who will chase a fourth title next season.

"I have a lot of respect for Bibler, he's a tough wrestler," Birdwell continued. "For him wanting to take that match, that takes a lot of guts. A lot of Montana kids would have just jumped into the next weight class or whatever, so I have a lot of respect for him."

Bibler and Frenchtown did finish runner-up in the team standings, scoring 156.5 points to hold off Miles City and Havre. The Broncs had five wrestlers in the finals, where Walker Dyer won the 113-pound championship. Landen Stewart, whose record was reported at 42-0, fell to Sidney's Lonski, while Eli Warner fell to the Eagles' Cline.

Of Frenchtown's four championship losses, three came to Sidney opponents.

Miles City capped the weekend with a third-place effort behind Damian Leidholt's 145-pound championship win over Corvallis' Triston Davis. Havre came close to catching the Cowboys for a trophy, but came three points shy.

Still, the Blue Ponies won individual titles at 152 and 160 pounds, with Connor Harris and Orion Thivierge victorious. Harris is a senior, while Thivierge is only a sophomore.

Other champions Saturday included Dillon's Cooper Hoffman at 170 pounds, avenging a runner-up finish in 2019. Hoffman took an 8-5 decision over Glendive's Nelson Crisafulli.

"It felt amazing. Honestly, I couldn't have asked for any better of a tournament," said Hoffman. "My goal was to go out there and wrestle my best, win or lose. It's my final season, so I wanted to go out there and work my ass off."

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