Aside from the CMR Holiday Classic wrestling tournament, one of the biggest tournaments the Havre Blue Ponies and Chinook Sugarbeeters compete in is the Cut Bank Invitational.
Five local teams traveled to the meet from Classes A, B and C. Havre was the top local finisher in third place with 179.5 points, followed by Chinook in eighth with 118 points. Harlem placed 22nd, Big Sandy 27th and Chester 28th.
The young Chinook team, composed of four seniors, one junior and numerous sophomores, took only 10 wrestlers to the tournament, leaving spaces open at 98 pounds, 112 pounds, 145 pounds and 171 pounds. Out of the 10 Chinook wrestlers who competed, five placed in the top six.
"Anytime you can place 50 percent of your wrestlers is incredible," Chinook coach Perry Miller said. "The only class B-C schools ahead of us were powerhouses Conrad and Glasgow."
At 105 pounds, Chinook junior Clayton Parsons won by default over Keyvin Walter of Class A team Columbia Falls for fifth place. Sophomore Howie Miller took Superior's Justin Bagley down for the pin with three seconds remaining in overtime to finish third for the Beeters. Chinook had one wrestler in the championship round, facing Havre's K.P. Fisher at 160 pounds. Eric Hinebauch lost to Fisher by technical fall 18-3 to take second place.
Coach Miller said Fisher is an outstanding wrestler. To face a senior from a Class A school is a tough draw for any wrestler, he added.
"I'm pretty thrilled with what we came up with," Miller said. "All our placers were underclassmen. To be eighth out of that field is incredible. Talk about some tough Class A teams in Havre and Corvallis. They'll be slugging it out for a state championship. And Conrad and Glasgow will surely be slugging it out for a title.
"I couldn't be more pleased," Miller added. "The boys wrestled hard and did a good job. There was great competition there. (Coach Adam Tilleman and I) are very very pleased with the boys we've got. We couldn't ask for anything more."
To match Fisher's win at 160 pounds, Havre got another first-place finish from Chad Hedges. Hedges won by decision 10-0 over Geoff White from Browning. Havre head coach Scott Filius said Hedges wrestled four kids at the meet and did not allow a single point to be scored against him.
Jeff Hedges has faced Glasgow's Mark Johnston in nearly every meet this season and once again lost to the tough Scottie wrestler. Johnston pinned Hedges in 3:56 in the semifinal round. But Hedges battled back and won by decision 14-6 over Simms' Ryan Giard for third place.
Garrett Hanson also lost in the semifinal round, but was able to bounce back and take third place. Hanson lost by decision 10-4 to Aaron Jones of Conrad in the semifinals. Wrestling for third place, Hanson defeated Chris Scotten of Lewistown by decision 2-0.
"We got big wins from everybody," Filius said. "Nick Johnson and Scott Sheppard got wins and Garrett Hanson got a big win for third."
Mike Schnittgen also wrestled for third and fourth place in the heavyweight division. Schnittgen was pinned by Malta's Marcus Green in 4:47 to wind up taking fourth place.
Kevin Velk placed in his first tournament, taking fifth at the 98-pound weight class. Velk defeated Jason French of Lewistown by decision 8-5. In the 125-pound weight class, Havre's Drew Harlow won by decision 6-4 over Jeremy Painter of Chinook.
"Mike Schnittgen and Drew Harlow did a real good job for us," Filius said. "They are starting to do a real nice job."
Jake Szudera took a fifth-place finish for Havre at 140 pounds, defeating Superior's Jason Calhoun by decision 12-4.
"The first day we weren't real sharp, but we sure finished out real strong," Filius said. "We just came out flat. The kids really responded well and wrestled well on Saturday. I am pretty pleased with them. The kids are competing hard and wrestling hard and that's all you can ask for."
One other Chinook wrestler placed. At 119 pounds, Conrad's Ross Johnson won by decision 9-1 over Kris Parsons, putting Parsons in sixth place. Harlem also added two sixth-place finishers, Donald Bear and Tom Cochran. Charlie Rohlf of Shelby won by technical fall in 4:37 to defeat Cochran, while heavyweight Jordan Hepp of Conrad pinned Bear in 47 seconds.
The outstanding wrestlers from the tournament were Conrad's Zach Lockyer at 135 pounds and Brenner Flaten of Glasgow at 189 pounds.
Havre will next wrestle at the Cowboy Invitational in Miles City Friday and Saturday. Chinook, Big Sandy, Harlem and Chester will wrestle at the Choteau Invitational on Friday and Saturday.
The following are the team results from the invitational: 1. Conrad 213; 2. Glasgow 197.5; 3. Havre 179.5; 4. Corvallis 168.5; 5. Columbia Falls 133.5; 6. Choteau 129; 7. St. Ignatius-Charlo 122.5; 8. Chinook 118; 9. Superior 114.5; 10. Malta 106.5.