FRENCHTOWN — It took just 25 seconds for Isaiah Alik to record a pin Tuesday as Mission-Charlo battled Frenchtown in a wrestling dual.
Following a slick shot, the 170-pound senior wrestler got Ayden Markovich on his back and was quickly awarded a pin. Alik remained undefeated on the season with the win and is currently ranked first in the Class B-C coaches poll in his weight class.
In matches entered to Trackwrestling.com this year, Alik has recorded 15 falls along with a 16-6 major decision to go with several opponent forfeits.
“It’s been a pretty high (scoring) rate when I take my shots or go for certain moves. It’s been a big confidence booster,” Alik said following the Frenchtown dual. “Not a lot of people have scored on me this year. That’s a big confidence booster, too.”
Alik was a fourth-place finisher at the state tournament a year ago. Both head coach Lyle Cronk and Alik have seen massive strides come in his wrestling. Cronk agrees that a lot of his improvement can be traced back to the same things Alik has been feeling.
“What I’m seeing now is his confidence level is really high,” Cronk said. “He’s hitting everything hard and finishing hard and believing in himself and that makes all the difference in the world.”
There have been small moments where a move or shot works in a match, but there have been big ones too, such as first-place finishes in the Bob Kinney Classic, the Choteau Classic and Cut Bank Booster Invitational.
The win against Lewistown’s Keaton Potter in the Cut Bank tournament stands out the most to Alik.
“It got a little chippy,” Alik said. “I was losing and ending up winning, so it was a good, humbling feeling.”
The Mission-Charlo standout ended the match with a pin and added another title to an already impressive season.
Another moment from this season stands out to Alik as well — a second-place team finish out of 36 teams at the Choteau Classic. The Bulldogs had never placed at that tournament prior to this season, and it gave the team a big of jolt.
The thought now is that Mission-Charlo could be an impressive force at the Western B-C Divisional and possibly at the state tournament. Mission-Charlo has not finished better than fifth at the state wrestling tournament since starting the co-op, and neither school has ever placed as a team.
If Alik wins a state title this year, he would be the first Mission-Charlo wrestler to do so since Jacen Peterson in 2014. Petersen finished his senior season 52-0 and went on to wrestle for four years at Arizona State.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season goes. We’ve got a good shot at winning divisionals and we’ve got a pretty good shot a placing,” Alik said. “It’s a pretty good feeling. I don’t think we’ve ever placed as a team at state, so I want to be the first teams to do that.”
Isaac DuMontier (145 pounds), Darwin Adams (152) and Miles Anderson (205) are some of the other Bulldog names to watch as the season starts to drift toward its end.
A strong team overall, it could be a banner year for wrestling in the small communities of Charlo and St. Ignatius. Some of that just might come down to Alik, but he's happy to take the leadership role.
And that’s especially important on nights where things do not quite go the way the Bulldogs want them to.
“I just try to always have fun with everybody, always try to have fun, always try to put a smile on everyone’s face,” Alik said. “Even through adversity, like the dual (against Frenchtown), I was the only one to score points, but we’re still all going to have a good time on the way back and have a good time in the locker room.”