BILLINGS — When the talk of state titles comes up at the Jones and Dean family dinner tables, Jett Jones and Christian Dean can pull up a chair and join the conversation.
“I sure hope so,” said Jones with a laugh.
Jones and Dean were two of four Sidney wrestlers to win state championships and help the Eagles pull away from the rest of the competition for their second consecutive Class A state title and 10th in program history at the All-Class State Wrestling Tournament at Rimrock Auto Arena on Saturday.
Powered by a program-record 14 wrestlers providing points, Sidney finished with a Class A-record 310.5, easily outdistancing Havre, which was second with 170. Polson was third with 128.5.
The previous Class A record for points was the 297 scored by Havre in 2015.
Wrestlers compete in the championship round of the state wrestling tournament at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
“It has been awesome,” said Eagles head coach Guy Melby of his team’s dominating weekend. Sidney opened the first round with 15 pins and put eight in the semifinals by Friday night. “Our goal is always to keep getting better every week and that continued this weekend.
“They didn’t win this by accident. They put in the work.”
Along with Sidney’s record-setting performance, Havre’s Martin Wilkie became the 34th wrestler in state history to win four state titles, while Jake Bibler (120) of Frenchtown and Belgrade’s John Mears (152) set the table to make their own history next year, each winning their third.
Wilkie also won the quick pin award for Class A with four in a total of 5:22. Three of his matches were 46 seconds or less, including his 38-second pin of Sidney’s Zander Burnison in the 145 title match.
“It’s a stepping-stone in my wrestling career,” said Wilkie, who finished 45-0 and who has committed to the University of Minnesota. “There a lot more things to come.”
Cooper Birdwell of Lewistown is halfway to history, winning at 126 for his second state title with a 15-second pin. The sophomore has yet to lose a high school match
“We’ll tackle it when we get there,” he said of the four-title club.
Jones won at 182 pounds, becoming the third member of his family to win a state championship, joining brothers Gresh (four) and Trace (two).
“They motivate me,” said the junior of his older siblings. “For Sidney, you have to wrestle your best every time out. Our coaches will let you know if you don’t.
“We work hard. I guarantee we’ll be back working out on Monday, maybe even Sunday.”
Dean won his second title – his first was at 103 as a freshman – allowing him to keep pace with his grandfather Dick Dean and father Mike Dean, both two-time Wyoming state champions for Evanston.
“The goal was to continue the family streak,” said the third generation Dean. “This is huge. I can’t think of a better way to end my senior year.”
Other state champions for Sidney were sophomore Riley Waters (160) and freshman Aden Graves at 132. Graves had the most dramatic win of the finals, getting a takedown on Damian Leidbolt of Miles City as time expired in overtime.
It was the last Class A title for Mears as Belgrade will return to Metra next season as a Class AA program.
“I’ve definitely been thinking about four,” he said. “Going up to Class AA next year, it will be tougher. It will make me work harder in the offseason.
“I’ll go with my weight next year wherever I land at. I’m not a guy who tries to get away from people to get four.”
Practice partners Walker Dyer and Bibler helped Frenchtown win back-to-back titles at 113 and 120.
“This is everything, pretty much what I dreamed about,” said Dyer who finished 52-0. “After last year’s loss to finish sixth, I knew I didn’t want to ever feel like that again.”
The pair finished a combined 104-1.
“Working with Jake helps a lot,” said Dyer. “He’s such a good wrestler. I know if I can score on Jake, I can score on anybody.”
Bibler (52-1) repeated at 120. He also won the state title at 113 as a freshman.
“Four, since my freshman year it’s been my biggest goal,” he said.
Bibler had three first period pins and technical fall for his four wins. “I stayed together,” he said. “I just wrestled the best I could.”
Other winners were: Mick Chagnon, Havre, 103; Hunter Fritsch, Polson, 170; Shane Gibson, Livingston, 205; Taylor Gladeau, Columbia Falls, 285.
Gibson finished 42-1. He was sixth last year after placing second as a sophomore.
“It was a little bit of both,” he said of being frustrated in 2018 and being motivated for 2019. “I had to come back and work my tail off. I was a little tense because it’s a final match, I just had to be smart.
“This feels awesome. It’s been a long time coming.”
Fritsch finally stood atop the awards stand after finishes of third, second and second.
“This is everything to me,” he said. “It’s what I’ve competed for. I can’t put this into words.”
Of Sidney’s four state champions, Dean is the only senior. And the Eagles had two wrestlers among the top six at 132, 138 and 145.
“I’ve been doing this for 33 years,” said Melby. “People ask me if I’m done. Heck, no. I’m having too much fun.”