BILLINGS — Several wrestlers and people in attendance were wearing T-shirts at the state wrestling tournament on Friday at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in memory of Kaden Christian Currier, who passed away in December after a car accident in Colorado.
Kaden Currier was the son of Chris Currier, a four-time state champion at Colstrip from 1990-93. The 17-year-old was a wrestler and the cousin of Colstrip standouts Jackson Currier and Nakoda Siegel.
Jackson Currier’s mom, Stefanie, had the shirts made.
Jackson Currier said his cousin had visited Colstrip this summer for a couple weeks. Nakoda said Chris and Kaden were in the stands at Rimrock Auto Arena in 2017 cheering on Jackson’s brother, Clayton, when he won his fourth state title.
“You could say I’m wrestling in honor of him,” Jackson said. “I always wrestle in honor of my family, but this tournament is for him.”
“It was emotional,” Siegel said of losing his cousin. “It still is. I still don’t want to believe it. I am not just doing it for me. He would want to be here and should be here.”
Forsyth standout Michael Weber is wearing the T-shirt in support of the Currier family. Weber has close ties with the Currier family.
“It kills me thinking about it,” he said. “When I found out, I was heartbroken. It was Christmastime. To lose your son that way. It’s supposed to be a time of love. It was a time of sadness and tragedy.”
Siegel said the family appreciates the support of those wearing the T-shirts.
“Auntie made them up and got a bunch of them,” he said. “It means a lot. People who didn’t know him, but want to support my family. It’s pretty cool.”
— John Letasky
• As Idren Peak was coming off the mat following the Billings Senior freshman’s quarterfinal pin in the Class AA 132-pound bracket, his brother, Jahzriel, gave him quick pat on his back.
Then Jahzriel, who wrestles at 138 for the Broncs, proceeded to go out and get a 10-0 major decision to put himself in the semifinals as well. Idren, sitting near the edge of the mat, videoed the entire match on his phone.
Wrestlers compete in the first day of the state wrestling tournament at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark on Friday.
“I think it’s pretty awesome, I don’t think any words can really describe that,” Jahzriel Peak said. “Well, I guess a little more exciting would be in the finals together, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Jahzriel, a senior, is looking for a second state title. His first, of course, came on a dramatic takedown of former Kalispell Flathead wrestler Trae Vasquez in 2017.
Idren is just looking to make a name for himself, though that’s come with plenty of work. And plenty of wrestling with his brother.
“He’s definitely one of the guys I give credit to for making me as good as I am, just in practice, always working me,” Idren Peak said. “It’s pretty awesome having him on the same team.”
The brothers have also managed to impress their coach with how they’ve attacked this season and tournament.
“They’re just offensive and they understand they have to put on the gas pedal,” Senior coach Josh Beeman said. “They wrestle six minutes every time. Can’t ask for more than that.”
The Peaks aren’t the only Class AA brothers in the semis — Drake and Jace Rhodes are also headed to the third round of the semifinals for Billings West.
— Jordan Hansen
• For a minute, maybe a little longer, Dylan Lutz was a wrestler without a coach.
Lutz, a sophomore from Sidney, was wrestling against Peter Gibson of Dillon in the first round of the 145-pound bracket.
In his corner, the chairs were empty. The Eagle coaches were at the other mats, helping Lutz’s teammates.
Sidney assistant coach Ty Graves maneuvered himself to handle two matches simultaneously before head coach Guy Melby arrived in Lutz’s corner.
Wrestlers begin the two-day state wrestling tournament at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark with the Parade of Athletes.
“We had four guys going at once,” Melby explained. “That’s a good problem to have. Ty was able to slide over and take care of it.
“The same thing happened in Bismarck (North Dakota). We had four guys with just three coaches. Dylan’s been around the block. He knows what to do.”
Lutz won by a third-period pin.
“It’s first coach up. If somebody needs help, you go,” Melby said of the coaching rotation. “I trust my assistants with anybody.”
— Joe Kusek
• Chinook is unique in the fact that the program has co-head coaches in Perry Miller and Adam Tilleman.
Both Tilleman and Miller wrestled for Chinook. Tilleman said he is a farmer and Perry is a Blaine County judge and a city judge in Chinook and Harlem.
“When we started this thing, neither one felt we could give the time,” Miller said. “But, we knew we could cover the thing and we’ve been together 27 years.
“It’s been a good ride.”
Tilleman recalled he and Miller coached AAU wrestling in Chinook and had been assistants on the high school team.
The Sugarbeeters wrestling program had been dropped the year before the duo became co-head coaches, Tilleman said.
“We get along pretty well and divided up the responsibilities,” Tilleman said. “We just talk to each other and figure out what we need to do.”
How many state champions, or state placers, have came through Chinook since the pair started coaching the program?
“I couldn’t tell you,” Tilleman said. “We have had a few and been very fortunate with a lot of good kids coming through.”
The team has won State C titles in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016.
Chinook qualified three for this year’s tourney in Rebecca Stroh (113), JT Hauer (152) and Favion Courturier (160).
— John Letasky
• Longtime Glendive coach Tim Zody is now an assistant coach at the school.
He said he stepped down as head coach in the offseason. Garrett Tennant, a former assistant under Zody and state champion wrestler for Glendive, is now the head coach.
Tyler Hostetler, who also was a state champion Red Devil wrestler, is also an assistant coach.
Zody said he helps with paperwork, “there is so much of it anymore,” but plans on stepping away as an assistant at the end of the season. So, this should be his last year in a coaching capacity at Metra.
“One last time,” he said with a laugh. “Those guys sit in the chair and I sit back on the sidelines and watch.”
— John Letasky
• John Mears of Belgrade won twice at 152 pounds to move closer to his third consecutive state title … Three wrestlers — Walker Dyer and Jake Bibler of Frenchtown, along with Cooper Birdwell of Lewistown — reached the 50-win plateau on Friday. Dyer (113) and Birdwell (126) are both 50-0, while Bibler (120) is 50-1. … It will be a race to the finish for the Class A quick-pin award. Havre’s Mick Chagnon has pins of 13 and 12 seconds at 103 pounds, while Colton McPhee of Columbia Falls has been just as quick with pins of 13 and 15 seconds at 182.
— Joe Kusek