BUTTE – The Butte wrestling team’s first two duals of the season were similar in just one way – they weren’t particularly close.
The Bulldogs stomped Glacier 62-6 before falling to Flathead 51-19.
“We knew we were going to have highs and lows this year,” Butte head coach Cory Johnston said. “I just didn’t think they were all going to come in the same day.”
Flathead, of course, is the defending state team champion, while Glacier finished second-to-last at the tournament last season.
Wil Queer got things started for the Bulldogs against Glacier at 103, pinning Dylan Miller in just 53 seconds. Butte followed it up with three more wins — a narrow Christian Sherman decision at 113, Gabe Tierney’s major decision at 120 and a Scout Allen pin of Lane Wilson — before the Wolfpack were able to get their only win of the day.
That came when Caden Willis dominated Butte’s Tye D’Arcy and picked up a fall midway through the second period.
Butte wouldn’t drop a match again and five of its final six wins were bonus point victories.
The Bulldogs are still figuring out its lineup and used the second dual of the doubleheader as an opportunity to make switches at four different spots (113, 138, 152 and 205).
Butte’s dual against Flathead started at 113-pounds and Wyatt Queer – who replaced Christian Sherman – lost via fall to last year’s state runner up Bryce Shaffer.
“It’s always tough getting out of the gate and we know we have a tough team,” Braves head coach Jeff Thompson said. “Our goal was just to have fun, wrestle loose, up a little bit and we wrestled well, but there’s still a lot of things we want to work on to get better.”
That said, not much went wrong for Flathead, though Butte was able to keep the match close through the first couple matches.
Butte’s Tierney – who had 12 takedowns in two matches – notched his second major decision of the day with a 15-5 win over junior Dominic Battello, a state qualifier last season. Tierney had nearly half of those takedowns in the second period of his matches and was able to wear out both of his opponents with some tenacious wrestling.
“I think he would have wrestled anybody in the halls at eight this morning, he was ready to go,” Johnston said. “He’s got a relentless style.”
Scout Allen, who was also undefeated on the day, got a dramatic win at 132. Allen got a takedown and a two-point near fall in the first period against Hunter Reichert and took a 4-1 lead before giving up an escape in the second.
Allen gave up a caution point and then Reichert scored on a nice shot midway through the third period to tie the match. Despite a hard Reichert ride, Allen was able to sneak his way out and then held off numerous shots to hold the lead.
“Scout just had a great day today,” Johnston said. “He’s had a great year of practice so far and it’s just one of those things where you can see the progression.
Butte struggled in its next five matches, all Flathead pins, before Kobe Moreno was able to break the streak with a pin for the Bulldogs. Moreno got his fall in a tough match against Garrett Rieke, another state qualifier for the Braves last season.
Defending state champion Jeff Queer was strong for Butte, picking up pins in both his matches at heavyweight and finished his day with a pin of Alex Paul. Last year’s third-place finisher at 285 – Flathead’s Michael Lee – did not wrestle.
It’s a long season and while Butte’s opening dual doubleheader shed some light on what’s ahead, the state wrestling tournament is nearly three and a half months away.
Johnston is seeing progress and he seemed excited about it.
“I think we kind of got punched in the mouth early and they were a little shell-shocked,” Johnston said. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world. If we wrestled again, it would probably be a different score.”