The Matcats made a strong push for their sixth straight divisional wrestling title Saturday but came up just short as Columbia Falls hosted the Class A Western Divisional Tournament.
The Cats, who had won the last five Western A titles, scored 214 points but came in behind Frenchtown’s 246.5. Polson was third at 211.5 and Ronan was fourth with 187.
“Obviously we wanted to win, but Frenchtown came in and did what they needed to do to end our streak. Now, we just need to look at how we need to respond and how we are going to move forward with our program to keep it competitive,” head coach Jessie Schaeffer said.
Despite being out of the running for titles in five weight classes going into Saturday’s finals, the Matcats made a strong push and had three individual champions as Ben Windauer (170), Colten McPhee (182) and Taylor Gladeau (285) each won their weight classes. The Cats also had three runners up - Brandon Thomas (132), Jakob Freeman (205) and Kyler Koski (285).
“We put ourselves in a situation where we had kids out of five weight classes after the first day, but I thought we responded very well on the second day. Most of our kids wrestled above their seed and I feel very good about going into the state tournament that way,” Schaeffer said. “All our champions competed well. My hat is off to them for having a great weekend.”
The Cats will be sending 11 wrestlers to the all-class state tournament, which begins in Billings Friday, where Schaeffer says the team will be hoping to earn a few individual titles.
“We are going to have to focus on the individual titles. We are going in without wrestlers in five weight classes, and that is going to hurt our team score,” he said. “We just need all 11 of the kids we are sending to be competitive. Ultimately, we want those kids to be standing on the podium. Whatever happens with the team race, happens.”
Windauer, McPhee, Gladeau, Thomas, Freeman, Koski, Austin Nelson, Ayden Role, Easton Sempf, Nathan Hader and Braydon Stone will all wrestle for the Cats at state.
This was the first time Columbia Falls had hosted the Western A divisional tournament in nearly a decade, which had its pros and cons for the Cats.
“Yeah, we get to sleep in our own beds, but they also have the pressure of wanting to perform in front of their home crowd,” Schaeffer said. “We also had to get everything prepared, we didn’t just get to walk in and wrestle. There are two sides to it, but it was fun to be hosting.”
Western A Divisional
Columbia Falls High School
1. Frenchtown 246.5; 2. Columbia Falls 214; 3. Polson 211.5; 4. Ronan 187; 5. Libby/Troy 145.5; 6. Browning 107; 7. Hamilton/Darby 105.5; 8. Corvallis 81; 9. Beaverhead/Twin Bridges/Sheridan 76; 10. Whitefish 61; 11. Stevensville/Victor 49; 12. Butte Central 37.5.
Fifth Place - Zane Walchuk (Ronan), wins by forfeit (Austin Nelson, Columbia Falls).
Championship — Bridger Wenzel (Polson), maj. dec. Brandon Thomas (Columbia Falls) 11-2.
Third place — Trey Thompson (Libby/Troy) dec. Ayden Role (Columbia Falls) 4-2.
Fifth place — Jarod Farrier (Poloson) p. Easton Sempf (Columbia Falls) 4:35.
Third place — Nathan Hader (Columbia Falls) p. Aaron Christensen (Corvallis) 1:39.
Third place — Dan Cheff III (Ronan) dec. Braydon Stone (Columbia Falls) 7-2.
Championship — Ben Windauer (Columbia Falls) p. Hunter Fritsch (Polson) 2:46.
Championship — Colten McPhee (Columbia Falls) maj. dec. Justin Mays (Ronan) 15-4.
Fifth place — Noah Humphrey (Polson) p. Fisher Billsborough (Columbia Falls) 4:15.
Championship — Kyle Anderson (Hamilton/Darby) dec. Jakob Freeman (Columbia Falls) 7-3.
Championship — Taylor Gladeau (Columbia Falls) dec. Kyler Koski (Columbia Falls) 3-0.
Rene Pierre (Polson) 14-5 won by tech fall over Garhet Salminen (Columbia Falls) 6-26 (TF-1.5 4:26 (16-1)
Austin Nelson (Columbia Falls) 24-16 won by fall over James Wissenbach (Corvallis) 22-14 (Fall 0:59).
Owen Brown (Ronan) 15-2 won by fall over Thomas Peters (Columbia Falls) 12-13 (Fall 1:21).
Brandon Thomas (Columbia Falls) 20-13 received a bye, Ayden Role (Columbia Falls) 21-10 won by decision over Cody Crace (Libby/Troy) 25-20 (Dec 6-0).
Easton Sempf (Columbia Falls) 15-19 won by fall over Randon Weidow (Corvallis) 21-21 (Fall 1:26).
Nathan Hader (Columbia Falls) 25-16 won by fall over Eric Dolence (Ronan) 9-13 (Fall 2:00), Jason Dobson (Columbia Falls) 11-7 won by fall over Mike Lamere (Browning) 0-5 (Fall 2:28).
Robert Bertelsen (Whitefish) 26-15 won by fall over Isaac Balla (Columbia Falls) 3-18 (Fall 1:46).
Braydon Stone (Columbia Falls) 18-17 won by decision over Ryan Kipp (Browning) 12-10 (Dec 17-10).
Ben Windauer (Columbia Falls) 38-8 received a bye.
Colten Mcphee (Columbia Falls) 36-9 received a bye, Fisher Billsborough (Columbia Falls) 0-1 received a bye.
Jakob Freeman (Columbia Falls) 26-11 received a bye.
Kyler Koski (Columbia Falls) 17-5 received a bye, Talylor Gladeau (Columbia Falls) 27-5 received a bye.
Consolation Round 1
Garhet Salminen (Columbia Falls) 6-26 received a bye.
Thomas Peters (Columbia Falls) 12-13 received a bye.
Isaac Balla (Columbia Falls) 3-18 received a bye.
Consolation Round 2
Nicolilai Blanchard (Frenchtown) 16-6 won by fall over Garhet Salminen (Columbia Falls) 6-26 (Fall 2:56).
Brody Marcure (Frenchtown) 22-13 won by fall over Thomas Peters (Columbia Falls) 12-13 (Fall 2:39).
Ayden Role (Columbia Falls) 21-10 won by decision over Kolby Reum (Ronan) 8-15 (Dec 5-0).
Easton Sempf (Columbia Falls) 15-19 won by fall over Tristan Riel (Stevensville/Victor) 4-33 (Fall 0:17).
Daylon Moore (Hamilton/Darby) 20-21 won by fall over Jason Dobson (Columbia Falls) 11-7 (Fall 4:46).
Seth Cheff (Ronan) 15-13 won by fall over Isaac Balla (Columbia Falls) 3-18 (Fall 2:14).
Braydon Stone (Columbia Falls) 18-17 won by fall over Aalec Pace (Whitefish) 7-20 (Fall 3:57).
Fisher Billsborough (Columbia Falls) 0-1 received a bye.
Austin Nelson (Columbia Falls) 24-16 won in sudden victory - 1 over Spencer Stagg (Ronan) 18-5 (SV-1 6-4).
Brandon Thomas (Columbia Falls) 20-13 won by decision over Ayden Role (Columbia Falls) 21-10 (Dec 5-2).
Dakota Flannery (Whitefish) 21-5 won by fall over Easton Sempf (Columbia Falls) 15-19 (Fall 3:11).
Nathan Hader (Columbia Falls) 25-16 won by decision over Jason Dobson (Columbia Falls) 11-7 (Dec 4-3).
Dan Cheff III (Ronan) 8-3 won by decision over Braydon Stone (Columbia Falls) 18-17 (Dec 7-5).
Ben Windauer (Columbia Falls) 38-8 won by fall over Hunter Riley (Stevensville/Victor) 8-12 (Fall 0:53).
Colten Mcphee (Columbia Falls) 36-9 won by fall over Ethan Borden (Libby/Troy) 12-23 (Fall 0:19), Justin Mays (Ronan) 21-5 won by fall over Fisher Billsborough (Columbia Falls) 0-1 (Fall 1:13).
Jakob Freeman (Columbia Falls) 26-11 won by fall over Joe Schildt (Browning) 7-2 (Fall 1:13).
Kyler Koski (Columbia Falls) 17-5 won by decision over Cyrus Sweedman (Libby/Troy) 31-16 (Dec 4-1), Talylor Gladeau (Columbia Falls) 27-5 won by fall over Coy Whyte (Hamilton/Darby) 8-7 (Fall 2:26).