BILLINGS — Caleb and Cooper Birdwell only had one shot.
The brothers from Lewistown, Caleb a senior, Cooper a freshman, knew this would be there only year together on the Eagles’ wrestling program and wanted to achieve a goal of winning individual state championships while bringing a team trophy back home to Fergus County.
“It was a really exciting weekend that started off with the team getting pins in the first round,” said Caleb Birdwell. “We had a big quarterfinal round and a big semifinal round. We had some downs in the finals but we brought it back up in the end and I won (the state championship.)”
Caleb was the 126-pound state champion, capping his senior year with a perfect Class A record, according to the stats provided from the Eagles. His 4-2 decision over Sidney’s Christian Dean in the finale sealed the deal on an elusive individual title. Birdwell finished runner-up in 2017 at 132 pounds.
The eldest Birdwell was the first of five Lewistown grapplers to compete in Saturday’s finals. The Eagles were tied with the second-most finalists at the all-class state tournament, and sent one-third of their state qualifiers into the last round. Fifteen Eagles qualified for the tournament, amassing 185 points en route to the third-place trophy.
“The team capped it off with third place, which was really cool. I was really excited about that,” said Caleb. “We hadn’t brought home a team trophy since, like, 1985, so it’s been a long time. It was really nice that the (program’s) hard work is starting to pay off.
Alex Wickens and Wyatt Blythe earned runner-up honors at 170 and 182 pounds, respectively, each improving on their 2017 state result. Wickens was fourth and Blythe sixth during their junior campaigns.
Freshman Wyatt Mager added another second-place result in the 103-pound championship, falling to Sidney’s Kaiden Cline.
That set up the final matches of the evening — the 113-pound championships. Cooper Birdwell took the mat against Libby-Troy’s Buddy Doolin, a defending state champion from the Class B-C ranks. The younger Birdwell wasted little time making the most of his first state championship appearance, defeating the Logger 7-3 to give the Birdwell brothers their dual titles.
“It was really fun. It was the only chance we got to wrestle with each other and it was really exciting that we both won it this year,” Caleb said.