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State A wrestling: Sidney opens up lead after Day 1

Frenchtown, Laurel round out top 3
Guy Melby Sidney wrestling.png
Posted at 10:29 PM, Mar 05, 2021

MILES CITY -- Cooper Birdwell's pursuit of his fourth state championship got off to a good start on Friday.

The Lewistown senior started his day at the Class A state wrestling tournament by pinning Nate Young of Ronan in the first round of the 132-pound bracket. He finished his quarterfinal match even faster, pinning teammate Colton Picco in eight seconds. Birdwell, who is looking to finish his high school career with an undefeated record, will face Kade Wersland of Laurel in Saturday's semifinal round. Wersland, the East's No. 7 seed, got a 4-2 decision of Beaudean Decker of Ronan in the quarterfinal round.

Sidney is also seeking a fourth consecutive title in the team race, and the Eagles, unsurprisingly, are in good position after the first day of wrestling with 141 points. Fourteen Eagles will wrestle in Saturday's semifinals. Two semifinal matches will feature head-to-head bouts for Sidney, as Grady Nelson and Aden Graves will square off in the 152-pound bracket and Trey Schepens and Riley Waters meet at 205.

PHOTOS: Day 1 State A wrestling

Other Eagles in the semifinal round include: Gordon Knapp (103 pounds), Owen Lonski (113), Zander Dean (126), Kolton Reid (132), Jordan Darby (138), Zander Burnison (145), Kade Graves (160), Dylan Lutz (170), Easton Hopes (182) and Brodey Skogen (285).

Lonski will wrestle Damen McCord of Lewistown in a 113-pound bracket, which included two upsets. McCord won by a 17-6 major decision over Hunter Barnes of Dillon, the West's No. 2 seed; and Miles City's Isaac Beardsley scored a 10-2 major decision over Whitefish's Nathan Sproul in the quarterfinals. Sproul was the West's No. 1 seed. Beardsley will face Austin Berry of Glendive in the semifinal round.

The 120-pound bracket is the only one that won't feature a Sidney wrestler in the semifinals. Chalk prevailed with Eli Warner of Frenchtown, Wyatt Mager of Lewistown, Jesse Anson of Hamilton and Mick Chagnon of Havre advancing through the quarterfinals.

Frenchtown, the Western A divisional champion, sits second in the team race with 105 points. The Broncs have nine guys in the semifinals: Landen Stewart and Isaac Stewart at 103 pounds, Eli Warner at 120, John Warner at 138, Zane Martin at 145, Gavin McLean at 160, Noah Rausch at 170, Canyon Shope at 182 and Philip Herald at 285.

Laurel is third in the team race with 91.5 points, followed by Lewistown with 79 and Miles City with 70.

Miles City's Damian Leidholt, who won a state title as a junior, is into the semifinals at 145 pounds and has a chance to give the Cowboys' trophy hopes a big boost. Bringing home hardware from the state meet in their own gym would be icing on the cake.

"I wish the crowds could be a little bit bigger, but it is what it is with COVID. I'm glad my last state can be at home," Leidholt said. "It would be amazing. A lot of competition with Frenchtown, Lewistown and Laurel, but that would be pretty cool."

Only two other brackets -- 103 and heavyweight -- saw all four top seeds advance to the semifinal round. Full results from the first day of the Class A state wrestling meet can be found here.

Saturday's action begins at 8 a.m. with weigh-ins. The semifinals are scheduled for 10 a.m., and the championship finals are scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.