GREAT FALLS — Kalispell Flathead, the defending champions, started their day against Bozeman and had no troubles as they took down the hawks 42-30 to advance to the quarterfinals. There is where they met Belgrade, who dominated their first round matchup against Helena with a 54-15 victory. The Panthers gave Flathead a bit more of a challenge but they fell short as the Braves took a 42-30 win, advancing to the semifinals against Great Falls High.
The Bison were rolling after the first two rounds, taking out Missoula Big Sky and Helena Capital. In the 132-pound weight class, it was Gage Clothier and Gannon Wisher. The matchup was close but ultimately won by Clothier to get Great Falls on the scoreboard, but still trailing the Braves 6-3. Following that matchup was followed by Dane Lake and Gavin Cotton in the 138. Lake scored points on an early take down, then would follow up with another one to win his match. That helped Flathead begin to pull away as they would make the finals for a second straight year, defeating Great Falls 43-24.
Billings West made a statement in their first dual of the day, beating Missoula Hellgate 72-0. That places them in the quarterfinals where they would meet Great Falls CMR. CMR was able to put some points on the board against the Bears but it was not enough to defeat them as West prevailed and advanced to the semifinals with a 46-19 win.
The semifinals saw a crosstown battle as Billings West was met with Billings Senior, last year's runner-up. With the match tied at 12, Chris Acuna met Drew Humphrey in the 152. In the end, it was Acuna walking away with a win by fall to give the bears a 18-12 advantage. It was short lived, however, after the Broncs came through with a fall of their own to tie it back at 18. That is when Logan Cole and Boden Bently would match up in the 170. Cole dominated the matchup for the duration of all the periods and gave Senior the lead after he won on an 18-4 decision. The lead continued to go back and forth until Cooper Freitag created some separation for West. In a matchup with Peyton Harms, Freitag won by fall and helped the Bears advance to the finals.
Billings West had a strong start, getting out to a 6-0 lead on the scoreboard after Jesse Aarness pinned the Braves’ Dane Lake. But it would turn around and be one sided from there on out. Gunnar Thompson met the Bears’ Chris Garcia in the 170 and would win by decision to put Flathead in the lead 18-6. They would run away wait it from there, winning 45-24 and claiming the AA duals championship for the second straight year.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Flathead coach Jeff Thompson. “We came in a little slow today but the momentum started clicking for us and we had a great finals.”