Four area high school wrestling programs snuck in one last dual before the postseason gets underway at the Butte Central mixer in the Maroon Activities Center on Friday.
The Maroons squared off against Butte High, Dillon and Whitehall in what were the final matches of the season for some wrestlers, and a tune-up before divisionals for others.
Class B-C Whitehall had a small but strong showing. Coach Steve Sacry said although only three of his wrestlers competed, but he saw progress from his athletes.
“The intensity improved,” Sacry said. “Kayden Howser (at 170 pounds) is very strong and he has good technique, but a lot of times he doesn’t do that in the actual competition. He broke through that glass window for being able to commit to something in the match. He had a lot of improvement this week.”
Dillon state champion Patrick Griffin was pitted against Butte Central’s Colter Stillwagon in the 170-pound division. From the beginning, Griffin had the upper hand. He quickly racked up his points as he twisted Stillwagon to the mat for two near-falls. At the end of the period, Griffin held an 8-1 lead.
During the second period, Griffin started out with a quick reversal. He overpowered Stillwagon and earned the pin in 3 minutes, 38 seconds.
Beavers coach TJ Nelson said his senior is “in the groove right now.”
“He’s just really, really focused,” Nelson said. “He’s trying new things all the time. He’s very healthy. The thing I love most about Pat right now is he can’t get enough wrestling. He could wrestle five or six matches. He wants to wrestle all the time. So going into divisonals, I just feel that he’s really excited about wrestling.”
One of the first matches of the evening had Butte High’s Cory West squaring off with Butte Central’s Clay Fisher in the 132-pound dual. Fisher was another competitor who wrestled at the state tournament last year.
Fisher struck first with a takedown in the opening period, and followed up with a near fall as West escaped for one point. Fisher earned one more takedown before the frame finished for a 7-1 lead.
In the next period, Fisher escaped early on and launched himself at West for a takedown. Fisher flipped West to his back and got the pin in 2:50.
Butte Central coach Robyn Moodry said there were several positive takeaways from the mixer.
“I think we did well,” Moodry said. “I think we wrestled better than we did last week. I think every week we’ve improved. Ready or not, we’re going to be ready for divisionals. But I think this was a positive. Clay Fisher wrestled well, but they all wrestled well.”
Butte High took a different approach for Friday’s matches. Coach Cory Johnston took the duals as an opportunity for his underclassmen to get one final dual this season. One of the Bulldogs’ young grapplers who competed was freshman Scout Allen who went against Whitehall’s Mike Wilkinson.
The first two periods were low scoring, but Allen took a 5-2 lead into the third period. In the final frame, Allen scored on an escape and a takedown. As the seconds ticked down, he earned a takedown and a near fall to defeat Wilkinson, 10-4.
Next Saturday, the Bulldogs will host a Class AA seeding tournament. Johnston said the dual was a good ending for the underclassmen and a much needed break for his older wrestlers.
“You only get to host once every few years so it’s really exciting for them,” Johnston said. “I think the main thing for tonight was they got to sit back and relax. Those guys have had pressure on them all year long, so it’s fun for them to relax. I told them to get away from wrestling this weekend and we’ll get back to wrestling on Monday.”
All four schools will compete in their seeding tournaments next Friday and Saturday. The Bulldogs host in AA, beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Dillon hosts the Western Class A Divisional tournament, where Butte Central will compete as well. Whitehall heads to Anaconda on Saturday for the Class B tournament.