By Harvey Brock
Before the state tournament started, Chinook coach Perry Miller was hoping for a strong showing from his team with a finish in the top 10. The Sugarbeeters surprised their coach and most everyone else by finishing fifth at state.
"We're awful young, mostly sophomores and a few seniors," Miller said. "I was hoping for a top ten finish, but to finish in the top five is more than I could imagine. I am tickled to death with the top five. Our sophomores wrestled really well at the tournament."
The Sugarbeeters qualified two for the semi-finals and one for the finals. Coach Miller's son, sophomore Howie Miller, finished fourth at state, losing his 130-pound semi-final match to T. Hoerner of Eureka 1-0. Fellow Sugarbeeter sophomore Eric Hinebauch pinned T. Crismore of Deer Lodge in the 160-pound semi-finals to finish third. Senior Thomas Maddox, Chinook's lone qualifier for the finals, was pinned by Justin Maughan of Fort Benton in the 152-pound finals.
Chinook's top five finish was the best showing at state for the Sugarbeeters since the 1980s state championship teams. The impressive showing by the Chinook wrestlers pleased their coach, and left him and the team looking to the future.
"Our sophomores wrestled really well here. If they stick to the program, I'll stick with them and I think we can build something together," Miller said.
Chinook's neighbor, Harlem, had three wrestlers go to the state tournament, with heavyweight Donald Bear finishing in sixth place. Bear lost in his finals match to D. Langford from Boulder.