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State Wrestling 2020: Longhorns, Sugarbeeters could be in the Class C mix


February 13, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Chester-Joplin-Inverness heavyweight Reubin Swenson is one of many wrestlers from the Hi-Line hoping to bring home a medal from this weekend Class B-C State Tournament in Billings. Swenson placed sixth a year ago.

Chinook head wrestling coach Perry Miller and Harlem head man Lyle Faulkinberry have pretty much seen it all when it comes to the Metra and the All-Class State Wrestling Tournament.

And yet, the two veteran coaches keep going back for more.

In the case of Faulkinberry, it will be a return to the Metra, after a couple years in retirement. Faulkinberry came back to coach the Harlem program this winter. He, along with his colleagues in Chinook, Chester-Joplin-Invernesss, Fort Benton and Big Sandy will be a strong Hi-Line presence to the Class B-C state tournament, which begins Friday morning and runs through Saturday night in Billings.

Faulkinberry will bring just two wrestlers to state, with Lance Blackcrow qualifying at 160 pounds and Mikkel Rider coming in at 215. The Harlem duo will be long shots in the B-C tourney this weekend and, among Hi-Line teams, the Wildcats will be the only area team competing in the Class B portion of the tournament. But, even still, it will be exciting to see Faulkinberry coaching his Wildcats on the mats of the Metra once again.

Chinook meanwhile, is led once again by Miller, and the Beeters are one of two area teams to have a legitimate chance at a Class C trophy this weekend. The Sugarbeeters, who have won multiple state titles under Miller, qualified six grapplers for state, and if they're going to compete for a trophy, they'll need big performances out of veteran leaders J.T. Hauer (170) Rebecca Stroh (113) and Reilly Wiegand (182). Look for sophomore Drake Berreth to do well at 132 pounds, while sophomore Wyatt Dunbar could be a factor at heavyweight. Freshman Tyler Schoen is making his inaugural trip to state, wrestling at 152.

One of the Beeters' main rivals this weekend will be Fort Benton/Big Sandy. The Longhorns finished fourth at the Northern B-C last weekend, and they also pushed six wrestlers into the state tournament, led by 182-pounder Hayden Axtmen, as well as the heavyweight combo of Stetson LeFurgey and Brock Hanford. Freshman Trevor O'Hara also won the Northern B-C title at 103, while Bayley Genereaux (138) and Colter Ball (160) round out the Longhorn's lineup.

And while Chinook and Fort Benton/Big Sandy can certainly compete for a trophy this weekend, CJI's Reubin Swenson will battle for a state championship at heavyweight. Swenson placed sixth at state a year ago but returns as a divisional champion this time around. However, the bracket is tough as defending state champion Trey Yates of Colstrip, 2019 runner-up Journey Grimsrud of Huntley-Project and third-place Mason Phipps of Class B favorite Glasgow are also all back.

And while the Scotties are the favorite to unseat Colstrip in Class B this weekend, Chinook and Fort Benton/Big Sandy will certainly try to give defending state champion Circle a run for its money in the Class C race. Superior and Cascade are also tough teams, just as they were a year ago.

The 2020 Class B-C State Tournament begins at 10 a.m. Friday morning and runs through Saturday afternoon's finals, with all the action taking place in the First Interstate Bank Arena at the Metra.


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