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Grappling with Greatness

first_imgPolson had seven wrestlers ranked: Thunder Morales was second at 106; Jaron Morgan was fifth at 113; Carlos Quinones was third at 126; Jared Young was fifth at 145; Tel Motichka was third at 170; Tele Seeman was fifth at 182 and Isaiah Williams was fifth at heavyweight.Havre won the state title last year with 233.5 points. Sidney was second with 207 and Belgrade placed third with 172.5.In Class AA, Glacier and Flathead are faced with a few talented teams ahead of them. The defending state champions, Great Falls, are loaded again this year and the squad flexed its muscles at the Jug Beck meet, piling up 249.5 points to win easily. Bozeman finished fifth overall, second among Class AA teams, with 153 points, followed by Missoula Big Sky, 146, and Missoula Sentinel, 143. Great Falls C.M. Russell placed 13th overall with 95 points and Helena Capital tallied 87. Glacier finished with 84 points, good enough for 16th, and Flathead earned 60.5, placing 19th.Justin Gibson, at 98 pounds, led the Wolfpack with a third-place finish at Jug Beck. Heavyweight Zach Dennehy placed fourth. Flathead’s Axel Bladholm, a heavyweight, earned third for the Braves and Cody DeVall placed fourth at 98. Great Falls won the team title last year with 263.5 points. Billings Skyview was runner-up with 246.5 and Missoula Sentinel earned third, 192.5. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox. Not satisfied with the successful status quo, Shonn Roberts took it up a notch this season.Thirteen pounds to be exact. The Columbia Falls junior, a two-time Class A state champion, bumped up two weight classes, from 112 pounds to the highly contentious 125-pound division. At 5-foot-9, Roberts might have seemed a little undersized for the ambitious move.But that would have been an incorrect assessment. Entering the final weeks of the season, Roberts is undefeated and one of the great grapplers in Montana, if not pound-for-pound the best. At the 37th annual Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic in Missoula three weeks ago, Roberts took down a pair of Class AA state champions and won by major decision over a highly touted wrestler from Spokane to claim the trophy, his first at the massive regional meet. He finished fourth last year at 112 pounds and second in 2012 at 98 pounds. “He’s starting to get more confidence, and the more confidence he gets the scarier he gets,” Columbia Falls head coach Jessie Schaeffer said.At 33-0, Roberts will try to cap another remarkable season by leading the talented Columbia Falls Mat Cats to divisional, and state, glory. The squad, ranked fourth as a team in Class A, capped the regular season with a pair of dual victories at home last week.Roberts, ranked first in the state, sealed the Mat Cats’ victory over fifth-ranked Frenchtown with a pin, leading Columbia Falls to a 43-36 win. After that, down went Polson, 53-23.The Mat Cats will try to qualify as many members as possible for state at the Northwestern A divisional meet in Libby on Feb. 8. Class B squads will grapple at the Western B-C divisional in Ronan and competitors in Western AA will vie for positioning at the seeding tournament in Helena, both on Feb. 8. The state wrestling meet, featuring all classes, is Feb. 14-15 at the Billings MetraPark. “The kids have been doing well for us this year,” Schaeffer said. “It’s the ultimate goal to come out of our divisional tournament with the best seeds and then there’s the big goal, the state tournament. We would like to bring home some hardware this year.”Columbia Falls is looking to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish at state.At the Jug Beck meet, the team finished 12th overall and third among Class A teams, gathering 106 points. Havre, the defending Class A champion and top-ranked team again this season, finished second overall behind Great Falls with 185. Belgrade, last year’s third place team at state, edged Columbia Falls by four points. Led by No. 1 Roberts, 11 Mat Cats are ranked in the top six in Class A as of last week’s coaches’ poll. Mason Fetters is third at 113 pounds; Zane Brunz is third at 145; Bryan Shaffer is third at 152; Colton Grove is fourth at 138; Cody Walters is fourth at 160; Spencer Ross is fourth at heavyweight; Kaleb Gravelin is fifth at 120; Wyatt Green is sixth at 132; Jason Williams is fifth at 170; and Manny Guzman is sixth at 98 pounds.Havre will be a force to reckon with at state, boasting a talented group with 12 members ranked in the top six, including top-ranked and Jug Beck champ Keegan Kennelly (106), Jace Billy (195) and Tyler Adams (220). Sidney is ranked second as a team, followed by Belgrade. Libby was ranked eighth with three members in the top six: Zach Crase was fourth at 132; Skylar Higareda was fifth at 138 and Garret Chapel was fourth at 170. Columbia Falls’ Bryan Shaffer works against Polson’s Ryan Burland last week. – Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon Emaillast_img read more