KALISPELL -- If Great Falls High is to defend its Class AA state wrestling team title, the Bison are going to need to pick up some key wins at the lighter weights to contend with a competitive field at the State AA tournament at Flathead High School.
Irish Furthmyre did his part on Friday, scoring the biggest upset of the early session. Furthmyre, the No. 4 seed out of the East, took down Kalispell Flathead's Cade Troupe, the West's No. 1 seed, with a 7-6 decision in the quarterfinals of the 145-pound bracket.
“Me and that kid have grown up together so it was more than just a match to me," Furthmyre said. "What was going through my mind was, ‘Oh crap, I’ve got to pick it up.’ I want my team to win so I want to give them all I’ve got. I was looking at them and was like, 'I have to step it up for these guys and that’s what it was.'”
Furthmyre will next meet Missoula Sentinel's Jesse Horner in the semifinals on Saturday. Horner, a No. 3 seed, upset Jaron Roberts of Billings Skyview with a second-period pin in the quarterfinals. Anthony Liva of Butte and Avery Allen of Bozeman High will meet in the other 145-pound semifinal match. Allen, a sophomore, is looking to win his second state title.
The Bison -- with Mason Huber (138 pounds), Furthmyre (145), Brendan Lockhart (170), Liam Swanson (182), Elijah Davis (205) and Ethan DeRoche (285) advancing to Saturday's semifinal round -- sit third in the team standings after the first day with 103 points. Kalispell Flathead is first with 135, and Billings Senior is second with 114.
"It was a tough day, challenging matches and just a roller-coaster ride," Flathead coach Jeff Thompson said. "Overall we won a lot of matches that we were supposed to win and we got some upsets in there. We put ourselves in the driver's seat. We're in a good spot for (Saturday) morning."
The Braves have eight in the semifinals, including Logan Stansberry at 120 pounds, Ethan Freund at 126, Asher Kemppainen at 132, Anders Thompson at 138, Fin Nadeau at 152, Noah Poe-Hatten at 160, Chase Youso at 170 and Ryan Nelson at 182.
Stansberry, a No. 6 seed out of the West, gave Flathead a big win at 120 pounds, upsetting Butte's Kyler Raiha, a West No. 2 seed, in the quarterfinal round with an 8-7 decision.
“At the beginning of the year I lost to him, I had a shoulder injury against him so it was a pretty big win," Stansberry said. "I honestly just didn’t want to lose."
Stansberry will face East No. 1 Jalen Vladic of Billings Senior in Saturday's semifinal round after Vladic scored two pins on Friday. Teegan Vasquez of Kalispell Glacier and Hunter Ketchem of Billings Skyview are also into the 120 semis as returning state champions. Ketchum won at 103 a year ago while Vasquez was the 113 victor, and their clash should make for an entertaining matchup in the semifinal round.
In addition to Vladic, Senior advanced Junior Madrid (103 pounds), Idren Peak (132), Isaiah Murch (160) and Thomas Klepps (170) to the semifinal round.
"I'm just happy we have a bunch of guys still fighting," Senior coach Josh Beeman said. "There's not one kid out here that's not trying their tail off and it's been fun to watch, there's been some amazing wrestling today and it's going to be a great Saturday."
Butte's Trey Whitlock and Billings West's Keyan Hernandez, the No. 1 seeds at 103, both advanced to Saturday's semifinal round by virtue of two falls. The Bulldogs and Golden Bears advanced their No. 1 seeds at 113 pounds, too, with Maverick McEwen of Butte and Jase Van Pelt of West both getting out of the first day unscathed. McEwen recorded two falls on Friday, while Van Pelt won his opener by fall and then defeated Billings Senior's Holden Howe with a 1-0 decision in the quarterfinal round.
West also had top seeds Jesse Aarness (126 pounds), RJ Lowdog (138) and Drake Rhodes (152) punch tickets to Saturday's semifinal round. Chris Garcia and Jadyn Hoff are also into the semis at 182 and 285 pounds, respectively, for the Golden Bears.
In all, West was second in advancing seven wrestlers to the semifinal round while Great Falls High and Butte each moved six wrestlers on.
"The kids came out with a lot of fire and effort," Butte coach Cory Johnston said. "They don't think they're ever out of everything and that's the thing you can't coach in kids that we really like about our kids.
"It's been the expectation all year and they're living up to it."
Rhodes will face Felix Petersen of Bozeman Gallatin in the semifinal round after Petersen pulled an upset in the late session. The East's No. 6 seed in the 152-pound bracket, Petersen pinned Butte's Gavin Vetter in the first and then scored a second-period pin on Missoula Sentinel's Blake Jolma, the second seed from the West, in the quarterfinal round.
The 160-pound bracket saw an upset, too, as Senior's Murch advanced to the semifinals. He pinned Kalispell Glacier's T.J. Gannon in the first round and then earned a 6-1 decision over Billings Skyview's Cameron Savaria in the quarters. Savaria was the East's top seed.
The 205-pound bracket is due to be interesting on Saturday morning as Davis advanced to potentially defend his title. He'll face Sentinel's Zac Crews, while on the other side Capital's Noah Kovik, last year's 182-pound champion, earned a 24-second pin in the quarterfinal round to move on. He'll face Skyview's Dillen Barrington in the semifinal round.
Murch will meet Poe-Hatten of Flathead in a semifinal match. The other 160-pound semi puts two-time state champion Hunter Meinzen of Missoula Big Sky against Archie Lafurge of Great Falls CMR.
The top seeds prevailed in the 103-, 126-, 132-, 138-, 170-, 182- and 285-pound brackets. For full results from the first day of the Class AA state wrestling meet, please click here.
Wrestlers are scheduled to weigh in for Saturday's action at 8 a.m. with the semifinals slated to get under way at 10 a.m. The State AA championship finals are scheduled for 3:30 p.m.