Four Chiefs crowned divisional wrestling champions
POLSON — The Ronan Chiefs tuned up for the Montana State Wrestling Championships with a strong showing at divisionals. The Chiefs placed second as a team with 180 points, behind first-place Polson at 232 and edging third-place Libby at 176.5.
The Chiefs crowned four divisional champions and placed 13 wrestlers out of 15 weight classes.
Toby Cheff earned the 189-pound championship by pinning Libby's Kody Berget in 3 minutes, 3 seconds. He heads to state this weekend with the number one ranking in Class A at that weight.
"Toby has been very consistent. We need him to carry that over this weekend," Ronan head coach Dustyn Azure said. "He has a chance to pin his way through his weight class at state. That will help the team out a lot, going for a team trophy."
His brother, Micky Cheff, won the 152-pound divisional title with a 13-4 decision in the finals over Polson's Ty Fouty. Micky is ranked third in the state at 152.
"Micky had a great tournament, going out on attack for six minutes," Azure noted. "He went out there to dominate, whether it was building up points or going for the pin."
Cole McArthur, who is ranked first in Class A, also won a divisional championship at 160 pounds, earning a 5-1 decision in the finals over Whitefish's Tanner Benedict.
"Cole had a good weekend, also. His finals match was a little bit of a letdown and he didn't work on his angles. But going over to state he and we have high expectations for him to make the 160 championship finals," coach Azure emphasized.
Also earning another divisional title was Cameron Neiss, who stuck Libby's Mitch Haugen in 1:48 in the 130-pound finals. He also won the tournament's Jug Beck Quick Pin award, earning three matches by pin in a cumulative time of 4 minutes, 38 seconds.
Neiss is heading to state on a mission to repeat as a state champion.
"Cameron did another great job. He's on the right track and on his way to another state title. We need him to keep pinning his way to the finals," Azure said.
Finishing second for Ronan were Lukas Conklin at 98 pounds and Andrew Teigen at 112.
"Lukas wrestled well this weekend. That was his best tournament this year," Azure said. "He'd lost to that Polson kid (Pat Sumner) three times but beat him in the semifinals. His goal coming into (the tournament) was to make the finals and he did that. If he can carry that over at state, he has a good chance of placing."
Teigen didn't have to wrestle anyone before the finals because there were only three wrestlers in the 112-pound bracket. Unfortunately, he ran up against the second-ranked wrestler in the state, Sal Baccaro, and fell by pin.
"He didn't have his best match against Baccaro. He's been making progress on him ... but he didn't have a good match in the finals," coach Azure said. "But it's easy stuff to fix and I think he'll come around."
Ronan had four wrestlers place third, winning their consolation championship matches.
Shelby Grant took third at 130.
"Shelby started off slow. He kind of had weight issues Saturday morning. He had to run and kinda tired himself out," Azure explained. "He knows he made a mistake (not watching his weight) and I'm hoping he'll have that corrected for state."