BILLINGS — Without question, the Class B-C wrestlers are ready for this weekend’s state wrestling tournament at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
The tourney begins with the first round at 10:20 a.m. Friday, and the last round of the day, the second-round consolation matches, begin at 5 p.m.
On Saturday, the semifinal and consolation quarterfinal matches begin at 9:30 a.m. At 3:15 p.m. Saturday, the parade of finalists and championship round are scheduled.
While the wrestlers are ready, plenty of questions will be answered this weekend.
Throughout the tourney, fans will be tracking Colstrip’s Jackson Currier (138) and Forsyth’s Michael Weber (152), both of whom are aiming for their fourth state championships.
Another question that will be answered: will Eastern B-C champion and state favorite Colstrip repeat in Class B and win its fourth title in six seasons? And, how will teams such as 2017 state B champion and Western B-C division winner Eureka perform?
Other teams that appear to be in the trophy hunt include Southern B-C divisional winner Columbus-Absarokee-Park City, Eastern B-C runner-up Glasgow and third-place Huntley Project. Malta was the Northern B-C divisional champion.
Circle, which finished fourth in the Eastern BC, is the defending State C champion.
• Colstrip has qualified 14 for this weekend’s action, including six divisional champs and three divisional runner-ups. The Colts’ divisional champions were Currier, Rylin Burns (145), Ty Bradley (160), Cody Blaede (170), Nakoda Siegel (182) and Beau Petersen (205). Finishing second for Colstrip were Zach Valdez (120), Dawson Buckalew (132) and Trey Yates (285). Siegel is a returning state champion, as is Bradley.
“I don’t know if we have ever taken than many,” said first-year Colstrip coach Dan Valdez, who was a longtime assistant with the Colts before taking the reins this year. “We might've before, but it’s been awhile since we’ve taken that many to state, if ever.
“Our guys wrestled well. Divisionals is where you set yourself up for state, and they all wrestled as well as I could have hoped for and placed pretty well.”
• Currier has wrestled a limited schedule this year due to a lingering back injury from football, but won the divisional and is eager to take the mats at Metra.
“I think he’s as good as he’s going to be,” Valdez said. “He’s not 100 percent, but we have him as close as we can.
“He has been itching all year. This not wrestling has been hard on him. He’s been wanting to get out there and wrestle and is itching to go.”
• Forsyth coach Scott Weber said his son, Michael (37-1), “is ready.”
“He has been practicing hard,” Scott Weber said. “We have been working on our other kids to get them up to speed.”
Forsyth qualified three in Weber, Camron Reilly (120) and Paden Vannattan (160). Reilly was the state champ at 103 last year.
• Columbus-Absarokee-Park City won its first divisional tournament in program history. Longtime assistant Skip Meier told 406mtsports.com earlier this season that the program started 19 years ago.
C-A-PC qualified 10 for state.
“You know how it goes, you always hope for a few more. Ten is a good number, we wish we had everybody, but yeah (it’s good),” first-year coach Jason Rhoten said. “Our mentality is we’ll take it one match at a time and at the end of the day, we’ll look and see what the score is.
“At the end of the day Saturday, we’ll look and see what the score is and hopefully we are right up there.”
The team was bolstered in mid-January by the additions of junior Tanner Cook (113) and freshman Cooper Cook (120). The Cook brothers’ family moved from Shepherd to Columbus. Tanner was first at divisionals and Cooper was second. Tanner Cook was second at state last year at 113 and third as a freshman at 103.
Senior Dylan Raihl (152), who was fifth last year at state at 145, won his second divisional title said Rhoten. Freshman Weston Timberman (103) was also a divisional champ, giving the program three divisional titles.
“They did wrestle well. I was happy with it,” Rhoten said. “We still went back on Monday and tried to get better for the state tournament. Overall, it was a good divisional.”
• Glasgow coach Jory Casterline said the Scotties qualified “a solid 12 kids who are all capable of winning matches.”
“Colstrip, they are loaded,” Casterline said. “Right now, we are focusing on what we can control. We have to win our matches and get some help and win those head-to-head matches with them.
“We are going after Colstrip, that’s our goal, but we are focused on what we can control.”
Winning the divisional for Glasgow were Colten Fast (126) and Oden Hallock (132). Kaden Zimmerman (138) was second, John Cremer (138) third, Kyler Hallock (152) second and Dylan Nieskens (170) second. Oden Hallock was a state runner-up last year as was Nieskens. Fast and Zimmerman both placed third at state last year.
• Malta won its third straight divisional. The Mustangs have five wrestlers entered this weekend.
Kolter Schipman (132), Callan Mears (145), Oren Mackey (160) and Andres Lopez (182) all won the divisional title. RC Skiff (138) was fourth.
“The kids who qualified are pretty tough,” coach Ryan LaBrie said. “They have been placing all season long, and we look to see the podium with all of them.
“They are ready to wrestle and are a tough bunch of kids.”
• Circle coach Ty Taylor said the Wildcats qualified six in their quest to defend their Class C championship.
“I’m looking at a good possibility to have three in the championships and at least five on the podium, if not all six, but they have to show up and wrestle, too.”
Krayle Stormer (103) and Tugg Taylor (113) won the divisional title. Stormer was third at state last year at 103.
Senior Trey Taylor (145), a three-time state placer, was the divisional runner-up and was the state runner-up at 138 last year. Bryson Bartelson (113), Canyon Casterline (126) and Cole Becker (132) are also entered this weekend.
Trey Taylor and Tugg Taylor are coach Taylor’s sons.
“We are ready to go,” coach Taylor said. “We’d like to bring another title back.”
• Gunnar Smith (120), Kyle Durden (126), Nathan Schmidt (132) and Hank Dunn (145) were all divisional champions for Eureka.
Scott Weber, whose first season coaching the Dogies was 2002-03, said Colstrip is the heavy favorite for the first-place trophy in Class B. Weber, who coached Forsyth to titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013, gave the nod to Glasgow for second.
Weber said Eureka, Project, Columbus-Absarokee-Park City, Malta and Cut Bank also have good teams.
“Eureka is the dark horse. They are coming out of the West and will be tough,” Weber said. “Cut Bank has some tough kids. It will depend on when they meet each other.
“No. 3 through 6, I don’t know how that will turn out.”
• While it wasn’t exactly warm in Billings, with temperatures in the low teens Thursday, Conrad coach Kevin Moritz said the temperatures were toasty for his team. Moritz said it was minus-36 in Conrad during the early-morning hours and minus-27 when the Cowboys departed at 8:45 a.m. for the 300-mile, five-hour-plus trip.
“We came here to warm up,” Moritz jokingly said, noting the roads were good. “It’s nice here.”
Four Cowboys earned the trip to Metra, including Jeffery Colesworthy (113), Roper Mycke (113), Ron Barnhill (138) and Dalton Brown (126). With eight wrestlers on this year’s team, half qualified for state.
“We’ll see if we can win a few,” Moritz said. “We can’t hardly wait till tomorrow to get rolling and get the jitters out in that first match. And then, they’ll figure out they can wrestle with anybody.”
• Rebecca Stroh of Chinook qualified for the state tourney at 113 pounds.
Last year as a 103-pound freshman, Stroh competed in the state wrestling tournament's first all-female match, winning by pin. And she became the first girl state placer in Class B-C with her sixth-place finish.
In Stroh’s first-round match this year, she’ll be wrestling Tanner Cook of Columbus-Absarokee-Park City.
“She is very excited,” Chinook co-head coach Perry Miller said. “She’s thrilled to be back.”