POLSON — The Polson Pirates thrilled their hometown fans with a Northwestern A Divisional Wrestling Tournament championship last Saturday. Polson won the team championship, the Pirates' first divisional championship since 2007, and had four individual weight champions.
The Pirates placed 16 wrestlers in the top four of their brackets at divisionals, all of whom qualified for this weekend's state championship in Billings. The only weight classes Polson didn't have a placer was at 130 and 160 pounds.
Brock Picard repeated as a divisional champion at 171 pounds, his fourth divisional title. The senior, who is ranked number one in Class A at that weight, won the title with a close 5-4 decision over the third-ranked wrestler in the state, Libby's Kyle Sweedman.
"That was neat for him," Polson head coach Bob Owen said of Picard winning his fourth divisional title, especially with the win over Sweedman. "Those two really did battle there. He earned the first takedown in the first period and another in the third. The only points Sweedman got were off escapes and a stall point. I wouldn't be surprised if (Picard) sees him again at state."
Picard heads to state in hopes of winning his third state championship. He won state titles as a sophomore and junior. If he does complete the three-peat at state, he'll be only the second Polson Pirate to win three state titles, matching Pat Owen, coach Bob Owen's son.
Kaden Thomas, a senior, earned a championship at heavyweight, pinning Libby's Lucas Puckett in 1:39 in the finals. Thomas is ranked fourth in the state and has a good shot at bringing home some hardware from Billings.
Freshman Craig Feistner cruised through his bracket and capped divisionals with the 98-pound championship by pinning Ronan's Lukas Conklin in 1:49. Feistner, who is ranked at the top in Class A, qualified for a top seed in the bracket at state.
"Feistner and Thomas each had only one match and they really weren't pushed," Owen noted. "But, they'll see a lot of work at state this weekend."
Polson's Jacob Young also had a break-through weekend, winning a hard-fought 135-pound championship in a 7-3 decision over Libby's Kyle Leir, the second-ranked wrestler at that weight in Class A. Young, who is ranked fifth, beat him earlier this year, but Leir edged Young in their last two bouts.
This time around, Young stayed aggressive in the neutral position, taking away Leir's strong double-leg move. Leading 4-2 heading into the third period, Young put the match away with an escape and a takedown in the first 30 seconds of the match, then held off Leir for the 7-3 decision.
"Jacob had a huge win in the finals. He really did well. I was real pleased with his effort because that kid beat him pretty badly in their last match," coach Owen said.
Polson had six wrestlers finish second, including Jesse Alfiero at 119, Nick Howell at 125, Mike Devlin at 140, Brock Bleazard at 145, fourth-ranked Ty Fouty at 152 and fourth-ranked Josiah Clairmont at 215.
Five Pirates placed third in their weights, including Drew Fouty at 119, Pat Sumner at 98, Lucas Polk at 105, Razz Walhood at 112 and Devin Kamarainen at 189.
Also qualifying for state with a fourth-place finish was Randy Kelley at 140 pounds.
"We had three wrestlers who had real tight finals matches, including Brock Bleazard, Mike Devlin and Jesse Alfiero," Owen noted.
Polson has a good number of wrestlers to take to state, but the Pirates are still largely young and relatively inexperienced. Havre and Belgrade are expected to dominate the top two spots in Class A, but Ronan, Polson and a host of other teams should battle for the third-place hardware.
"We're ranked fourth as a team, but we're hoping we'll earn some hardware. We'll probably have to wrestle the best of our season to do it ... but that's our hope," Owen said.
"Frenchtown, us, Ronan and Laurel should all be in there for the third-place trophy, perhaps along with Corvallis and Glendive, who beat Sidney for the first time ever."
The Montana State All Class Wrestling Championships will once again be held at the Billings MetraPark Arena Feb. 12-13. Fans can order tickets by calling 1-800-366-8538.
Northwestern A Divisional Wrestling Tournament
Feb. 6, 2010
Teams: 1, Polson 232; 2, Ronan 180; 3, Libby 176.5; 4, Columbia Falls 136.5; 5, Whitefish 38.
98 - 1, Craig Feistner (Pol) by pin, 1:49; 2, Lukas Conklin (Ron); 3, Pat Sumner (Pol); (4) Ian Edwards-Myslicki (Lib).
105 - 1, Seth McCall (CF) by pin 1:43; 2, Isaac King (Lib); 3, Lucas Polk (Pol).
112 - 1, Sal Baccaro (CF) by pin 1:43; 2, Andrew Teigen (Ron); 3, Razz Walhood (Pol).
119 - 1, Justin Whitman (CF) dec. 6-3; 2, Jesse Alfiero (Pol); 3, Drew Fouty (Pol); 4, Aaron Seefeldt (Lib).
125 - 1, Mike Roby (Lib) by pin :37; 2, Nick Howell (Pol); 3, Adam Richardson (CF); 4, Kyle Lawson (Ron).
130 - 1, Cameron Neiss (Ron) by pin 1:48; 2, Mitch Haugen (Lib); 3, Shelby Grant (Ron); 4, Dalton Rice (WF).
135 - 1, Jacob Young (Pol) dec. 7-3; (2) Kyle Leir (Lib); 3, Cody Hader (CF); 4, Kohl Thompson (CF).
140 - 1, Shawn Whitman (CF) dec. 10-6; 2, Mike Devlin (Pol); 3, Cody Elliot (Lib); 4, Randy Kelley (Pol).
145 - 1, Dylan Berget (Lib) dec. 5-4; 2, Brock Bleazard (Pol); 3, Nick O’Dell (WF); 4, Dustin Goldsby (Ron).
152 - 1, Micky Cheff (Ron) dec. 13-4; 2, Ty Fouty (Pol); 3, Billy Gross (CF); 4, Quenton Denton (Ron).
160 - 1, Cole McArthur (Ron) dec. 5-1; 2, Tanner Benedict (WF); 3, Joe Gross (CF); 4, Austin Bailey (Lib)
171 - 1, Brock Picard (Pol) dec. 5-4; 2, Kyle Sweedman (Lib); 3, Tyler Wheeler (Ron); 4, Geoff Streeter (WF).
189 - 1, Toby Cheff (Ron) by pin 3:03; 2, Kody Berget (Lib); 3, Devin Kamarainen (Pol); (4) Jacob Babcock (CF).
215 - 1, Kelly Houle (CF) by pin 1:51; 2, Josiah Clairmont (Pol); 3, Colby Roberts (Ron); 4, Rigo Ibbara (Lib).
275 - 1, Kaden Thomas (Pol) by pin 1:39; 2, Lucas Puckett (Lib); 3, Aaron Yazzie-Whitworth (Ron); 4, Wolf Zinke (WF).