BILLINGS — One of the best tickets in high school wrestling this weekend will be the Eastern B-C Divisional at Forsyth High School on Saturday.
When action begins at 10 a.m., wrestling enthusiasts will see a field that includes four of the top five ranked teams in the Class B-C Coaches Poll with No. 1 Colstrip, No. 2 Glasgow, No. 3 Huntley Project and No. 5 Poplar in the mix. Also, the top-ranked team in Class C and defending state champ Circle is entered.
The other teams in the division are the host Dogies, Baker, Lame Deer, Broadus, Shepherd and Wolf Point.
“The Eastern Division’s top three teams have always been really high at state,” said longtime Forsyth coach Scott Weber, whose first season coaching the Dogies was 2002-03.
At last year’s divisional, Glasgow finished first with 180 points, Colstrip was second with 154 and Huntley Project third at 139.
At state last year, Colstrip won the championship with 196 points, Glasgow was third with 120.5, Project was fourth at 101.5 and Forsyth fifth at 89.
“Our goal is to win a state title, but if a divisional title falls in our hands, we’ll take it,” said first-year Colstrip coach Dan Valdez.
“I honestly don’t care about a divisional title. We want a state title and that’s what we are hunting for.”
This year there are three wrestlers aiming for a fourth state championship in Martin Wilkie of Havre, Jackson Currier of Colstrip and Michael Weber of Forsyth.
Two of the three will be in action in Forsyth in Weber and Currier.
Michael Weber is the top-ranked wrestler at 152 pounds and is 38-1 this year with his only loss to Chance McLane of Bozeman. Weber — who hasn’t decided where he will go to college but wants to wrestle at the D-I level — is 2-1 this season vs. McLane, a two-time state champion who has signed to wrestle at Oklahoma State.
“The hard part for him is staying focused, the last two weeks we haven’t had any competition,” Scott Weber, who is Michael’s father, said.
Wrestling at home will be the special part of this weekend for Michael Weber and his seven teammates on the divisional team. Camron Reilly was a state champ at 103 pounds last year and is top-ranked at 120 with a 28-8 record.
“Everyone gets a chance as your rotation comes up in the conference, but you only really get it every 9 or 10 years,” coach Weber said. “It’s nice it worked out Mike’s senior year, he gets to have divisionals at home.”
Valdez said his Colts are looking forward to wrestling at the divisional.
“The main reason I am excited is it might be the first time we’ve had our full team at a tournament this year,” he said. “We’ll be at full strength this weekend.”
Currier, who suffered a back injury in football, first competed on the mat this year at Colstrip's Stocking Stuffer Invitational on Dec. 20. He won his first match by pin and then defaulted out of the tourney when his back tightened up.
Currier then rested and once again wrestled at Moorcroft, Wyoming, where he won two matches by fall and one by decision to win the 138-pound bracket on Jan. 19. He is 4-3 this year, with the three losses coming by injury default, and top-ranked at 138 pounds.
“It kind of tightens up and stuff and comes and goes,” Valdez said of the injury. “We are trying to be cautious with it. We are at go time now. It’s do or die now.”
Many of the Forsyth and Colstrip wrestlers are friends and coach Weber hopes the best for Currier.
“Jackson has been hurt most of the year and it is troublesome for me to watch him not wrestle with his back injury,” coach Weber said. “I’m hoping and praying he gets through divisionals and state unscathed.”
At 182 pounds, Nakoda Siegel is top-ranked but has been resting the last two weeks so he is at full strength this weekend, Valdez said.
Siegel, an undefeated state champion last year who has signed to wrestle at Campbell University in North Carolina, has been wrestling with a torn ACL suffered during football season.
Siegel is 22-1 this year, with his only loss to Sidney’s Jett Jones in the finals at the Cowboy Invitational. He bounced back a few days later to avenge the loss in a dual in Sidney.
“He was determined,” Valdez said. “It was eating at him. He was stewing for three days and he knew what he wanted to do.”
Other top wrestlers for the Colts this year include senior Ty Bradley (top ranked at 160, 41-4), junior heavyweight Trey Yates (top ranked and 29-10), sophomore Rylin Burns (third ranked at 145, 38-10) and senior Cody Blaede (third ranked at 170, 32-10). Bradley was a state champion last year and Yates was a finalist. Blaede was third at state and Burns was fourth.
“In Hardin (last weekend), some of our young guys stepped up and won some matches and we are hopefully peaking at the right time,” Valdez said.
The top four finishers in each weight class advance to state. Wrestlers will also wrestle for fifth and sixth place in case alternates are needed in place of byes at the state tourney. The state tournament is Feb. 8-9 at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.