BILLINGS – Friday marked the start of over 1,000 wrestling matches at Rimrock Auto Arena in a two-day span, and Eastern Montana schools are sending plenty into the Saturday winner’s bracket.
Two of the three wrestlers chasing their fourth state championship are from two Eastern Class B powerhouses – Colstrip’s Jackson Currier and Forsyth’s Michael Weber. Weber, wrestling at 152 pounds, faced Cut Bank freshman Austin Vanek in the quarterfinals, and Weber showed him what experience will do, earning a pin in 1:18.
As for Currier at 138 pounds, he made even quicker work of Conrad’s Ron Barnhill, getting a pin in just 38 seconds. His Colstrip teammates had a good day as well, including Zach Valdez at 120 pounds, who earned a 14-4 majority decision over St. Igantius-Charlo’s Walker Murphy. The Colts have a large lead in the team race.
Huntley Project is chasing a team trophy. Clayton Donally pinned Manhattan’s Porter Blanchard at 126 pounds to earn six big points. Columbus-Absarokee wants on the podium too – Dylan Raihl’s second-period pin of Eureka’s Nate Cargill helped.
Sidney is putting on a show in Class A. Two Eagles met in the 138-pound quarterfinals – Christian Dean beat Kade Graves 10-4. At 145, Laurel’s Tyler Emineth was looking for his second upset of the tournament, as he took a 4-0 lead on Sidney’s Zander Burnison. But Burnison turned it around in the second period to take the lead and eventually got a pin to move on. The Eagles are on their way to defending their State A title.
Miles City’s Damian Leidholt earned another win for the Eastern A at 132 pounds with a very good defensive match. He didn’t let Hamilton-Darby’s Adrian Garcia score a single point in a 4-0 win to advance to Saturday’s semifinals.
It was a really good day for Billings Senior in Class AA. Alejandro Madrid beat Bozeman’s Felix Peterson 12-5 at 113 pounds, especially big over the favored Hawks. Then at 138, one of the Broncs’ state favorites, Jahzriel Peak, blanked Skyview’s Cameron Savaria 10-0. Senior placed six into the semis.
Billings West also has six semifinalists, including both Rhodes brothers. Freshman Drake beat Great Falls High’s Easton Shupe at 113 pounds, while senior Jace – chasing his third title – pinned Butte’s Quinn Sullivan in the 170-pound class.
R.J. Lowdog’s story never gets old. The West sophomore, who ran the Montana Marathon in September despite not having the lower half of his legs, advanced to the semifinals by beating Missoula Big Sky’s Carter Johnson with a third-period pin.
Championship action takes place on Saturday.