BILLINGS — Havre High’s streak of consecutive chamiponships appears to be in danger.
The Blue Ponies, winners of five straight Class A team championships, trail No. 1 Sidney after the opening day of the all-class state wrestling tournaments. The Eagles compiled 119.5 points, leading runner-up Lewistown (102) and third-place Havre (99) after the opening day.
The Eagles advanced six wrestlers into Saturday’s semifinal round, keeping both individual and team title hopes alive.
“It’s going good. There are always some surprises, good and bad surprises. That’s how the state tournament works. We still have 17 guys alive,” said longtime Sidney coach Guy Melby. “We punched six into the semifinals, so we’re looking at 11 kids kicking here (in Friday’s consolation round). We have to take care of business but that’s the way we’ve been all year. We’re deep and have guys coming through the back door (of the consolation bracket) and that’s the way we survive. It’s nothing we’re not used to.”
Kaiden Cline led the charge for the Eagles, winning his first two matches at 103 pounds Friday. The sophomore won his first match by pin in 3:03, then wrapped up a technical fall in the quarterfinals.
Junior Christian Dean will also wrestle in Saturday’s semifinals, after a pin and decision kept his individual championship aspirations alive.
Jace Winter (138 pounds), Jett Jones (160), Sawyor Thogersen (205) and Ryan Horner (285) will also wrestle for a spot in Saturday night’s championships.
“They’ve been here before. We didn’t have a senior on our squad last year, which is now pretty exciting,” said Melby. “That’s paying off. We have some young bucks here, too, but as young wrestlers in Sidney, they travel all over the place. They’ve been in Metra many times, and bigger places than this.”
Melby and Sidney also know not to underestimate Havre, no matter the lead at any given point. The Blue Ponies, who saw the likes of Martin Wilkie and Tyler Schaub advance into the semifinals, typically score the majority of their points in the consolation rounds.
“As coaches you always do that,” Melby said of watching the scoreboards. “We’re just worried about our guys. That’s all we’re worried about, it’s all we have control over. We don’t have control over any other team and what they do. We’re going to take care of business and give it all we’ve got and where the chips lay, they lay. That’s the way it is. But it would sure be nice to get back into, you know, we’ve had a slew of second places and some thirds, but there’s nothing like winning a state championship, and of course, that’s our goal.”
Lewistown advanced Cooper and Caleb Birdwell into the semifinals. Cooper, a freshman, wrestles in the 113-pound bracket while Caleb, a senior, competes at 126.
Frenchtown’s Riley Gurr, a two-time state champion — once in the state of Washington and once in Montana — continues his chase for a third championship. Gurr meets Bridger Williams of Hamilton at 138 pounds.
The team scores from Friday’s opening day can be found below. To view the individual brackets, please click here. App users, please copy and paste this link into your mobile web browser: http://bit.ly/state-wrestling
For more highlights from the first day of State A wrestling action, please click here.
1. Sidney 119.5
2. Lewistown 102
3. Havre 99
4. Frenchtown 78
5. Polson 68
6. Columbia Falls 60
7. Glendive 59.5
8. Hardin 57
9. Ronan 54
10. Libby-Troy 36.5
11. Hamilton-Darby 33
12. Miles City 28.5
13. Dillon 22.5
14. Laurel 22
15. Belgrade 21
16. Browning 19.5
17. Stevensville 18
18. Corvallis 17
19. Livingston 12
20. Billings Central 11
21. Whitefish 10
22. Butte Central 9