BILLINGS — Cooper Birdwell has an impressive high school wrestling resume with two State A championships and two divisional crowns, and Saturday has the chance to be another special day for the Lewistown junior.
The Eastern A Divisional begins at 9 a.m. at Fergus County High School and the championships are set for 3:30 p.m. Birdwell will have an opportunity to win the divisional crown in his home gym.
Birdwell is 42-0 with 19 pins, 13 technical falls and four major decisions wrestling at both 126 and 132 pounds, Lewistown coach Brendon DeCock said, adding as of Friday afternoon Birdwell's weight was undetermined. He is ranked No. 1 at 126 in the latest Class A Coaches Poll.
DeCock said the Golden Eagles are thrilled it’s their turn to host the divisional.
Other top Eagles include: senior Duane Otto (ranked third in Class A at 160), who was third at state at 160 last year; junior Keaton Potter (ranked third at 170); freshman Damen McCord (ranked fourth at 103); and junior Landon Farrar (ranked third at 205), who was fourth at 182 pounds at state last year.
“We are pretty excited to be hosting it,” DeCock said. “Our kids are pretty excited to be wrestling in front of a home crowd in something other than a dual tournament.
“There are 11 Class A Eastern teams. We only get divisionals once again in 11 years. I was telling the boys the other night, we won’t host divisionals again until our first graders are seniors. So, I think the boys want to take advantage of that and wrestle well for their town and community and put on a good showing.”
Teams competing are top-ranked and two-time defending state champion Sidney, second-ranked Laurel, third-ranked Miles City, sixth-ranked Havre, seventh-ranked Livingston, Glendive, Billings Central, East Helena, Hardin and Lockwood. The host Golden Eagles are ranked fourth.
The top eight in each weight class punch their ticket to the state tournament Feb. 14-15 at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark in Billings.
While Sidney has been dominant, DeCock said that won’t deter the other teams. Several Eastern A teams figure to be in the hunt for a state trophy.
“Nobody will touch Sidney, they’re way too deep,” DeCock said. “(Coach) Guy (Melby) has a well-oiled machine right now. They are doing all the right things and have depth. I don’t think anybody will run with Sidney at all.
“Fighting for a second- and third-place trophy, not just this weekend but next weekend at state, will be a dogfight between four to six teams.”
DeCock can't wait for 9 a.m. Saturday.
"Some of the individual match-ups will be fun to watch if they happen," he said. "There will be plenty of good wrestling taking place."