The Statewide wrestling divisional tournaments will take place this weekend with the local AA teams traveling to Kalispell on Friday, while the Elkhorn area B/C clubs make the trip to Columbus on Saturday.
Here's a look at what is ahead for them.
Capital and Helena will partake in the Western AA meet at Flathead High. The top-eight placers in each weight class in the unscored tournament qualify for State, which takes place in Billings at the all-class tourney on Feb. 9-10.
The Bruins, under coach Jeff Mahana, are led by eight matmen with winning records. Seniors Travis Schulte, at 145 pounds is 33-8 (16 pins), and heavyweight Justin Jenks is 16-12 are the top wrestlers to watch. Schulte recently achieved his 100th career win.
Capital juniors Seth Jensen, at 205, is 30-7 with 20 pins; Lee Lambrecht is 20-3 at 132; and Cole Bradford is 18-10 at 138. Sophomore Tyler Coddington at 120 is 12-2, while freshmen Noah Kovick is 26-6 and Hayden Azure is 3-0, at 138 and 126, respectively.
For coach John Burke’s Bengals, last year's state champion Isaac Romero paces a trio of grapplers above .500. Romero owns a sparkling 31-3 mark at 113 pounds with 17 pins.
Devin Crawford is 35-6 with 19 pins at 138, while Austin Murphy is 29-11 (15 pins). Crawford is also sitting on 100 career victories, while Murphy is at 98.
“As a team our goal this weekend is to wrestle one match at a time to the best of our abilities and focus on winning all scrambles in matches,” coach Burke said. “This should give all the wrestlers a good opportunity to gain the wins needed to advance to the state tournament.”
Coach Troy Humphrey’s Jefferson wrestlers are rated among the division favorites, and figure to battle Whitehall and Townsend for the team title.
There are four Panthers with 23-or-more wins, led by Jacob Travis at 138 pounds at 34-9 with 27 pins. Next are Nate Brunett at 160, a two-time Southern division titlist at 29-6 (24 pins); Cody St. Clair at 120 with a 28-10 (23 pins) mark; and Derek Nygaard at 27-12 (25 pins) at 182.
Rounding out Jefferson's winningest matmen are heavyweights Nathan Rasch at 24-10 (20 pins), Nick Workman at 20-7, and Dakota Dorn at 23-14 (20 pins); Drake Schake at 19-5 at 182; and 170-pounder Brett Hale with an 18-8 mark.
Townsend, winner of last year’s Southern B/C crown, is led by three defending titlists; Kameron Rauser at 152 with a 31-5 mark and 26 pins, Kyle Spritzer at 170 at 27-8, and Justin Denton with a 30-11 record at 182.
The rest of coach John O’Dell’s top grapplers include Sam Lane (27-10) at 103, Easton Held (36-5, 27 pins) at 126, Ty Henry Steele (25-12) at 145, Will Lane (18-8) at 152, and 205-pounder Jadon Lamb (28-9).