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Warriors defeat Darby, Hamilton at Western Montana Duals

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RONAN — The Arlee Warriors picked up two wins to finish in 10th place at the Western Montana Duals in Ronan Friday and Saturday.

The Warriors, who finished 2-4 over the weekend, beat Western B-C’s Darby 46-26 Friday with wins by Austin Rubel, Cole Rice, Al Plant and Bryce Norling. Spurred on by 145-pounder Leif Rova’s comeback win in the opening match, the Warriors were able to beat the Class A Hamilton Broncs 45-34 the final day.

The duals gave the Warrior leaders a chance to wrestle some stiff competition and their younger wrestlers some much-needed experience.

Rice, the Warriors’ 140-pounder, picked up three wins Friday. He started the tournament with a first-period pin of Darby’s H. Gandy. He was also one of just three Warriors to pick up a win in a 59-29 loss to Ronan Friday, beating Dilan Starkel with a 17-2 technical fall. Rice finished Friday’s wrestling by pinning Pirate Michael Devlin in the second period in a 66-24 loss to Polson.

In Arlee’s 58-24 loss to Frenchtown to start Saturday, Rice moved up a weight and beat Bronc Brad Nordahl, who won a bronze medal at state last year, 7-4. It was only Nordahl’s second loss of the season.

“Cole wrestled some tough opponents this weekend. To be the best, he has to wrestle the best,” Arlee coach Ken Hill said. “Nordahl is a great athlete and a super nice individual. Cole and Brad have a lot of respect for one another and you could see it at the end of the match.”

Rice finished the duals with a 6-3 loss to Mission-Charlo’s 145-pounder Jame Petersen. 

“Cole’s match against Jame was exactly what we thought it would be; a great match between two of the toughest wrestlers in the west,” Hill said.

Warrior 125-pounder Logan Lefler went undefeated at the duals, pinning Chief Kyle Lawson in 48 seconds, Polson’s Drew Fouty in 42 seconds, Frenchtown’s B. Armstrong in 59 seconds, Hamilton’s L. Faulk in the second period and wrapped up the duals with a 10-5 decision over Bulldog Scotty Gilleard.

“Logan is coming on great. He is really getting into his groove since taking some time off before the holiday. Logan pushes himself really hard and has had some trouble with injuries this season. If he stays healthy he will do well at divisional,” Hill said.

Bryce Norling, the Warriors’ 215-pound wrestler, picked up three wins at the duals, all by pin. He pinned Darby’s B. Komanik in one minute, Ronan’s Colby Roberts in the third period and Mission-Charlo’s Ata Sahin at 1:46.

In the opening match against Hamilton, Rova was trailing Richard Parker, but was able to pin him with 20 seconds left in the second period.

“I overheard the Hamilton coach talking to his wrestlers before the dual and basically he said to his team. You are going to have to wrestle your best to beat these guys. Once we got started with Leif Rova’s win, everyone got excited and started wrestling their best. It was a big win for us to beat a class A school, and it is something the boys will remember for a good deal of time,” Hill said.

Warriors’ Cameron Dominick (119) and Carter Clinkenbeard (130) also picked up some key wins in the dual. Dominick won a 9-3 decision and Clinkenbeard pinned J. Hamilton in the first period.

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