The Columbia Falls wrestling team had its best finish in decades at the state A wrestling tournament in Billings Saturday. The MatCats scored 131 points, good enough for second place. Havre won with 257.5 and Glendive was third with 125 points.
Ben Windauer (145) was the top wrestler for the MatCats. The junior took second and was pinned by Parker Filius of Havre in the championship round.
Windauer pinned Joel Raisler of Miles City, Chase Farrar of Fergus and beat Bryce Roan of Hardin, 8-6 to make it to the championship match. Roan had beaten Windauer earlier in the season, so getting the win was particularly nice to see, said coach Jesssie Schaeffer.
“He had a great season,” Schaeffer said of Windauer.
The second time around against Roan, “he didn’t get turned,” Schaeffer noted. “He’s fun to coach. He leaves it all on the mat.”
Schaeffer said it was a complete team effort. Instead of giving up when they knew their chances at a state title were dashed, the boys wrestled all the harder.
“They worked hard for it,” Schaeffer said. “It was definitely a team effort.”
A host of MatCats also made it to the podium. Austin Nelson (103) was sixth, losing to Polson’s Mateo Quinones 8-4 in the fifth-place match. Winfield West (120) was fifth, dropping Tanner Mannin of Fergus. Ayden Role (126) was fifth, winning in a 14-5 decision over Sean Comstock of Billings Central. Hunter Peterson (132) was sixth, losing Kwin Stoddard in the final round. Colton McPhee (160) took sixth, losing to Kye McCollaum in the final round. Storm Kemppainen (170) was fifth, pinning Wyatt Blythe of Fergus in the final round. Jakob Freeman (182) was sixth, losing to Sayer Thogerson of Sidney in the final match and heavyweight Kyler Koski was fourth, losing to Grant Scalpcane in the third-place match, 3-1.
The last time the MatCats were runner-ups at state was in 1996, Schaeffer said.
He doesn’t get any time off. The junior high program started Monday. Schaeffer, his brother Ben and assistant coaches Rick Lawrence and Bryan Shaffer as well as wrestlers from the high school all plan on coaching the younger grapplers.