BILLINGS — Columbia Falls has opened up a lead after Day 1 of the State A wrestling tournament inside First Interstate Arena at MetraPark, with Miles City and Sidney close behind.
The Wildcats put nine wrestlers into Saturday morning's semifinal round, highlighted by a matchup between teammates Winslow Peters and Chris Rathjen at 138 pounds.
Joining Peters and Rathjen are Traic Fainter (103 pounds), Tyler Gilfry (126), Billy Gustafson (145), Josiah Kilman (152), Blaise Cronk (152), Justin Windauer (160) and Brandon Role (182). Windauer is searching for his second consecutive title.
Rathjen's victory is monumental because he knocked off Sidney's Owen Lonski, who was searching for his fourth consecutive state title. According to members of the Sidney coaching staff, Lonski came down with mononucleosis earlier this season and has never really recovered.
Columbia Falls had 108 points after Day 1 to sit in first place. Miles City was in second with 85 points, Laurel was third with 80 and Sidney — the five-time reigning champion — was in fourth with 75.
Even without Lonski's potential points in the championship bracket, the Eagles are still right in the thick of things as they chase their sixth consecutive team title. Zander Dean (145) is in the semifinals yet again, as the senior looks for his third consecutive title. Sophomore Reece Graves, brother of Aden who won his fourth consecutive title last year, is in pursuit of his second crown as he finds himself in the semifinals.
Miles City also has several wrestlers in the semifinals, highlighted by heavyweight Holden Meged. Meged improved his record to 22-0 with his victory in the quarterfinals. He finished runner-up last season.
For first-day results, click here.