Chiefs focus on final run at divisionals, state
RONAN — The Ronan Chiefs tuned up for this weekend’s divisional wrestling tournament with a pair of duals last week. After a 54-16 win in Whitefish Tuesday, Ronan lost an exciting 45-31 dual to visiting Polson on Saturday night.
The win in Whitefish wasn’t as dominating as expected for the third-ranked Chiefs, according to their coach.
“I think our kids overlooked them. Whitefish came ready to wrestle and we didn’t,” Ronan head coach Dustyn Azure said. “We can’t be doing that. We pulled off the win ... but it wasn’t our best showing.”
On Friday, the Pirates won four matches by pin and three matches by forfeit to rack up some big points that the Chiefs couldn’t overcome. But Ronan won three matches by pin, one by major decision and three by decisions.
Ronan’s Andrew Teigen won by pin at 112 pounds, sticking Razz Walhood at 2:44. Cole McArthur pinned Jake Skelton in 2:46 in the 160 match, while Tyler Wheeler pinned Devin Kamarainen in 3:02 at 171.
Cameron Neiss won a 17-5 major decision over Polson’s Jake Young at 135. Neiss, who was a state champ as a 125-pounder last year, won the match on a string of takedowns.
“Cameron wrestled well. That kid is tough and usually Cameron has trouble with him. But our plan was to not waste any time down on the mat, to stay up on our feet and take him down,” Azure said.
Shelby Grant won a thrilling 8-6 overtime match over Polson’s Nate Brooks at 130 pounds. Grant secured the win with a single-leg takedown early in overtime.
“Shelby’s was another good match,” Azure said, explaining that the strategy was to try to build up points through takedowns. “We were trying to get a major decision. So we cut him, but (Brooks) turned it around and got Shelby on his back. But Shelby showed some composure and got the takedown in the overtime. Those are two good freshmen ... they’ll be fun to watch over the next few years.”
Dustin Goldsby had a good 14-7 win at 145 and Micky Cheff won a close 6-5 battle at 152 over Polson’s Ty Fouty.
“Dustin Goldsby wrestled well. That’s probably one of the best matches I’ve seen him wrestle this year. He wrestled smart the whole match,” coach Azure said. “Micky was attacking well but he wasn’t finishing the shots. He just needs to finish his takedowns.”
The premier match of the night was the battle between Ronan’s top-ranked Toby Cheff at 189 and the top-ranked 171-pounder, Brock Picard of Polson. Picard moved up to 189 to match up with Cheff and they gave wrestling fans a thrilling bout to watch.
Picard broke open a 2-2 tie in the third period with an escape and takedown to earn the narrow 5-4 win.
“Toby had a good match ... We just made a mental error and it cost him the match. We told him to stay out of Brock’s tie-ups — he’s very explosive with his hips,” Azure said.
Azure added that it was a good finish to the regular season, even though they weren’t able to win the dual.
“We wrestled pretty well against Polson. Both teams came ready to wrestle ... it was the kind of dual to get crowds excited,” Azure said. “All the way through the lineup I was impressed with our whole team. They went out and wrestled six minutes. That’s what we’ve been preaching,” the coach said. “We’ve finally got things turned around and on the upswing.”
The team did lose Dilan Starkel for the season. The freshman slipped and fell during buddy carries at practice several weeks ago and tore the meniscus in his knee.
The third-ranked Chiefs are the defending divisional champs and hope to repeat, though Polson will be difficult to beat.
“Other than Dilan, we’re ready for divisionals,” Azure said. “The tournaments are where we’re better at than duals. We’ll have to make up for our small numbers with bonus points, though. We’ll just have to go out there and pin to win.”
Ronan 54, Whitefish 16
98 - Lukas Conklin, R, won by forfeit;
105 - open;
112 - Andrew Teigen, R, won by forfeit;
119 - open;
125 - Kyle Lawson, R, won by forfeit;
130 - Shelby Grant, R, pinned Jon Sammon, 1:17;
135 - Cameron Neiss, R, pinned Dalton Rice, 5:03;
140 - Alex Greenfield, R, pinned DJ Buckley, 1:14;
145 - Dustin Goldsby, R, dec. Nick O’Dell, 7-5 OT;
152 - Quenton Denton, R, pinned Robby Neff, 3:40;
160 - Tanner Benedict, W, won by forfeit;
171 - Tyler Wheeler, R, dec. Geoff Streeter, 8-7;
189 - Nate Wiedenmeyer, W, won by forfeit;
215 - Colby Roberts, R, pinned Domonic Sargent, 1:31;
Hwt - Wolf Zinke, W, maj. dec. Aaron Yazzie-Whitworth, 15-7.
Polson 45, Ronan 31
98 - Craig Feistner, P, won by forfeit;
105 - Pat Sumner, P, pinned Lukas Conklin, 2:20;
112 - Andrew Teigen, R, pinned Razz Walhood, 2:44;
119 - Jesse Alfiero, P, won by forfeit;
125 - Nick Howell, P, pinned Kyle Lawson, :34;
130 - Shelby Grant, R, dec. Nate Brooks, 8-6 OT;
135 - Cameron Neiss, R, maj. dec. Jacob Young, 17-5;
140 - Randy Kelley, P, pinned Alex Greenfield, 3:43;
145 - Dustin Goldsby, R, dec. Brock Bleazard, 14-7;
152 - Micky Cheff, R, dec. Ty Fouty, 6-5;
160 - Cole McArthur, R, pinned Jake Skelton, 2:46;
171 - Tyler Wheeler, R, pinned Devin Kamarainen, 3:02;
189 - Brock Picard, P, dec. Toby Cheff, 5-4;
215 - Josiah Clairmont, P, pinned Colby Roberts, :27;
Hwt - Kaden Thomas, P, won by forfeit.