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Bulldogs take trio of duals in Ronan

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RONAN — The Mission-Charlo Bulldogs picked up three team wins and had some of their younger wrestlers make big gains at the Western Montana Duals in Ronan Friday and Saturday.

“I think we improved individually and team-wise,” Mission coach Lyle Cronk said. “We kind of caught fire at the end. The team got excited and got into it. There was a lot of jumping up and down and the kids responded by wrestling some pretty tough matches at the end.” 

After starting the duals with a 69-15 loss to eventual champion Corvallis, Cronk said his team was feeling hammered on, but finished Friday with a 57-20 thrashing of Superior. The Bulldogs started Saturday with a 39-31 loss to the Flathead JV team in a dual where the Bulldogs lead most of the way, but lost their final two matches by pin. They followed their loss to Flathead with a 51-27 loss to the Class A Columbia Falls and wrapped up the weekend with a pair of Western B-C victories. After beating Thompson Falls 43-42 on criteria, the Bulldogs ended the tournament on a high note, beating Arlee 43-36.

Charlo senior Jame Petersen continued his dominance in the 145-pound class this season by going 5-0 tournament, with four of his wins coming via pin, but it was his decision in the final match that was his most impressive win. In the matchup of one-loss wrestlers, Petersen beat Arlee’s Cole Rice in a close 6-3 decision, with two of Petersen points coming late in the third period on a takedown. Rice, who moved up in weight to face Petersen, started Saturday by beating Frenchtown’s Brad Nordahl, who is the only one that has been able to beat Petersen this year. 
“It was a great match. The whole place seemed to stop and everybody was watching the match,” Cronk said.
Bulldog 152-pounder Travis Dumont went 4-1 at the tournament, with his only loss coming in his Columbia Falls match, where he was leading, but got pinned after being caught in a cradle hold. The Mission senior pinned Flathead’s L. Allery at 1:34 and Thompson Falls’ J. Abbot at 2:15. He also won a 12-0 major decision over Warrior Leif Rova in the final dual.
“Other than that one mistake against Columbia Falls, Travis wrestled a pretty spotless weekend,” Cronk said.
Dakota Matt went 4-1 over the weekend, winning all four matches by pin, three of which came in the first period. The Mission-Charlo 140-pounder pinned Bobcat Tyler Wharry, Warrior Al Plant and Brave B. Moses in the first period. It took him 2 minutes and 32 seconds to pin Columbia Falls’ C. Hader.
It wasn’t just the Bulldog leaders winning matches, they also had some of their younger and inexperienced wrestlers get a taste of success. 
Mission-Charlo 160-pounder Chad Anderson picked up two wins, beating Wildcat J. Folsom and pinning a divisional rival Bluehawk Zach Lyons at 5:23.
“That was a huge upset for Thompson Falls. He (Anderson) turned a huge corner this weekend,” Cronk said.
In his first year wrestling, Joel Lewis entered the duals with only one win, but left with three more under his belt. The Charlo junior started the tournament by beating Superior’s Mackenzie Crabb 6-2 in a 189-pound match. Crabb defeated Lewis the last time the two met in a dual in Drummond. Saturday, Lewis was trailing Flathead’s 215-pounder D. Lovett 9-4 and was on his back in the final minute, but was able to tie the match with a reversal and a near fall. In overtime, Lewis picked up an 11-9 victory with a takedown. Lewis was back in the 189-pound class against Columbia Falls, and pinned J. Babcock in the third period.
Mission-Charlo 112-pounder Russell Schultz picked up two wins Saturday, a 9-1 decision over Flathead’s K. Leihr and a 6-4 win over Thompson Falls’ John Gunderson. Schultz beat Gunderson by one point in the semifinals at the Superior Invitational in early December, and Cronk said Gunderson came into the duals seeking revenge.
“It was great to see Russell deny him,” Cronk said.
Mission-Charlo 119-pounder Casey Nitschke pinned his final two opponents, pinning Bluehawk Dakota Kinzer at 2:30 and Warrior Cameron Dominick in less than a minute. 
Ata Sahin, Mission-Charlo’s 215-pounder, picked up his second win of his career by pinning Corvallis’ J. Henderson with two seconds left in the second period. 
The Bulldogs will compete at the Class B-C Choteau tournament Friday and Saturday. Cronk said that with most teams from the state competing, the tournament will be a real measuring stick for his team.

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