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Bulldog’s Petersen claims first Choteau title, Gilleard grabs runnerup

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CHOTEAU — Mission-Charlo 145-pounder Jame Peterson overcame some of his toughest opponents of the season to capture his first Choteau Classic Championship.

The senior, one of four Bulldog wrestlers to place at the two-day tournament of 32 Class B-C teams, has breezed through most of his competition this season, rarely having to wrestle into the second period, but that wasn’t the case in Choteau Friday and Saturday. Petersen, who finished sixth at state last year, was put in holds and situations he hasn’t been in this year.

“I know it’s a big deal because he had a lot of tough matches. There was a little bit of pressure of being on a bigger stage and he got challenged a few times. It’s important that he was able to overcome it and win,” Mission-Charlo coach Lyle Cronk said. “He may not have wrestled his best matches, but he found a way to win. That’s important.”

Petersen, who finished sixth at the tournament last year, captured his first championship in Choteau, with a 6-4 overtime decision over Conrad’s John Schlosser. 

Petersen won a close 2-1 decision over Malta’s Ryan Smith in the semifinals to make it to the finals and in the quarterfinals he had to fight off of his back to win a decision.

In the quarterfinals, Florence’s Zach Newbary came out gunning for Petersen and had him on his back to tie the match at 10, but Petersen scored the final seven points in the match to win 17-10. 

Mission-Charlo’s 125-pounder Scotty Gilleard joined Petersen in the championship matches, but was pinned by Townsend’s Val Rauser in the first period. 

Gilleard was coming off a rough weekend, where he only won one match at the Western Montana Duals, but used a good draw and wrestled his best tournament of the year, according to Cronk, to turn his season around.

In the quarterfinals, Gilleard wrestled Thompson Falls’ Austin Kinzer, somebody he had faced and beaten several times this year, including last week in Ronan. After beating Kinzer with an 8-5 decision, Gilleard had an 8-0 lead on Simms’ Levi Nelson, when he pinned him with six seconds left in the second period.

“ ... He went out there and beat him up,” Cronk said of Gilleard’s semifinal match. “He kept the pressure on him and kept turning him and finally pinned him.”

Mission-Charlo 112-pounder Russell Schultz finished in sixth place after being pinned by Thompson Falls’ John Gunderson. Schultz had defeated Gunderson at the Superior tournament in December and just last week at the duals in Ronan.

Dillon Edwards, the Bulldogs’ 98-pounder, finished in sixth after being pinned by Big Sandy’s Cooper Jenkins. Edwards defeated Chinook’s Angela Flores 11-9 to make it to the medal round. Earlier in the tournament Flores had pinned a Darby opponent that had defeated Edwards earlier in the season.

“He was outstanding. He just wrestled awesome,” Cronk said of his freshman wrestler. 

The Bulldogs will be in Thompson Falls Saturday for the Ted Kato Tournament.

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