Eight Bulldog wrestlers are headed to state after qualifying in Saturday’s Western A Divisional Tournament in Ronan.
Whitefish qualified Carter Moran (120), Leroy Orel (126), Jackson Carson (126), Kolter Kidrick (138), Rylee Creasey (152), Camren Ross (160), Kai Nash (205) and Brian Sweeney (285).
Of those, Moran, Carson and Ross are returning to state, though none placed at last year’s tourney.
Creasey and Carson were the highest places for Whitefish, both taking fourth after falling in their third-place matches.
Kidrick, Orel and Ross all took fifth, while Nash took seventh and Moran and Sweeney took eighth.
As a team, Whitefish took ninth overall. Frenchtown, Browning and Hamilton/Darby rounded out the top three in team standings.
Head coach Danny Neff said overall, he was pleased with how his wrestlers performed.
“We had our ups and downs, but mostly ups,” he said.
The tournament started on a down note, when senior captain Dakota Flannery didn’t make weight and couldn’t compete. Flannery’s season has been plagued by injuries, and Neff said it was tough to see things come to an end that way.
“His postseason was nonexistent, which is unfortunate,” he said. “He’s a leader in the room. When he’s injured, he’s trying to help other kids. He’ll be a great coach when he’s older. It’s just really unfortunate he had to end his senior year like this.”
The team rebounded, though, and got to work.
Neff pointed out Creasey and Kolter for having big weekends after competing well all season.
“A big surprise was Riley Creasey, he wrestled really well,” Neff said. “Kolter showed how mature he’s become this year. He’s just a leader on the mat.”
Neff also pointed to Ross and Sweeney, who will have tough competition in their stacked weight-brackets at state but have shown they can compete with the best.
“Camren is in such a tough weight class, so come state he’s going to have his hands full, but I’m really thinking he’s going to compete,” he said. “Brian’s got a lot of potential. He’s beaten a numerous amounts of these heavyweights. He might make a solid move at state and place really high.”
Looking ahead to state, Neff said it’s all about getting mentally prepared for the tournament.
“We’ve worked for three months just to be at this spot. It’s going to be very eye-widening for a lot of our underclassmen that haven’t been to state,” he said. “It’s 12 mats, a huge stadium. It’s going to be fun. I keep telling them, ‘I’ve given you the tools and technique, now it’s up to you.’”
“Just do Bulldog wrestling and everything will be fine.”
The All-Class state wrestling tournament is Feb. 14-15 at Billings MetraPark.
Northwest A Divisional Wrestling Tournament
At Ronan High School
1. Frenchtown 274.0; 2. Browning 200.5; 3. Hamilton/Darby 171.0; 4. Libby/Troy 162.0; 5. Polson 158.0; 6. Columbia Falls 135.0; 7. Corvallis 123.0; 8. Dillon 99.5; 9. Whitefish 89.0; 10. Ronan 47.0; 11. Stevensville/Victor 27.0; 12. Butte Central 7.0.
7th Place Match — Kanyon Stoker (Corvallis) won by fall Carter Moran (Whitefish), 0:42.
3rd Place Match — Xander Spady (Libby/Troy) won by fall over Jackson Carson (Whitefish), 4:04.
5th Place Match — Leroy Orel (Whitefish) won by tech fall over Roman Duke (Frenchtown), 4:39.
5th Place Match — Kolter Kidrick (Whitefish) won by fall over Tyren Stidham (Polson), 4:17.
3rd Place Match — Ethan Chavez (Corvallis) dec. Rylee Creasey (Whitefish), 10-7.
5th Place Match — Camren Ross (Whitefish) dec. Logan Adler (Polson), 7-0.
7th Place Match — Kai Nash (Whitefish) won by fall over Tyler Smith (Libby/Troy), 3:27.
5th Place Match — Max Morency (Ronan) won by fall over Brian Sweeney (Whitefish), 2:08.