The Harlem Wildcats and Chinook Sugarbeeters have found their own successes at recent Class B-C state wrestling tournaments. But this weekend’s tourney in Hamilton could be historic for both programs.
Chinook is gunning for not only more individual glory, but the Beeters are looking to win their fourth straight Class C trophy in the B-C division. Chinook has had plenty of success in the past and has won the first three Class C-only titles, all the while competing with the top teams in all of Class B-C.
Meanwhile, Harlem brings perhaps its best team in school history to Hamilton this weekend, and the Wildcats will leave it all on the mat.
Harlem qualified nine wrestlers for the state tournament, and have five No. 1 seeds this weekend. Senior Trent Jones leads the way at 171 pounds. Jones captured Harlem’s first individual state title in decades a year ago and he appears to be a heavy favorite to repeat this season. But Jones certainly isn’t alone. Shay Snider at 98 pounds, Teague Jones at 105 pounds and Colton Dirden at 135 pounds are all legitimate individual title contenders this weekend, and with Chris Schupe at 140 pounds, the Wildcats have a chance to score a lot of points in Hamilton. In all, Harlem qualified nine wrestlers for state.
Not to be outside, Chinook still has plenty to represent the Hi-Line with in Hamilton. The Beeters have junior Ben Stroh, who is unbeaten at 189 pounds and gunning for a third straight individual title. If Stroh wins this weekend, he will cap an amazing two-year run where he hasn’t lost a single match, and he’ll have a chance to go for the coveted four-peat in his senior year. At 215 pounds, Jorell Jones is another state championship contender for the Beeters. Chinook will also bring Wyatt Brandel at 130 pounds and Robbie Klingaman at 171 pounds, Angelo Flores at 119 and Cord Anderson at 189 and Geoff Qualls at 112, and while the Beeters probably don’t have the depth they’ve had in years past, they’ll still contend to keep their Class C title.
Big Sandy and Chester/J-I will also have strong wrestlers in the tournament this weekend. The Hawks have perhaps the two best heavyweights in the field in Ethan Wolery and Shalon Norick, while Leonard Pugsley is a strong contender at 145 pounds as is Erik Kelly at 140. The Pioneers qualified an outstanding group of wrestlers for this weekend, with senior Ryan Miller at 145 pounds leading the way. Kasey Martin, Lane Martin, Dusty Gasvoda and Westin Brown will also compete in the state meet.
As for the team races, Forsyth has been favored all season long, but three-time defending champion Glasgow still has the most depth. Townsend, with the highly-touted Rauser twins are also a trophy contender as is Choteau and Cascade. This year’s B-C tournament is as wide open as any in a long time and that is good news for Harlem’s quest, as well as Chinook’s.
The 2011 Class B-C state tournament gets underway at 10 a.m. Friday in Hamilton and the championship round is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.