WRESTLING: Braves hope to load up for state at seeding tourney

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By DAVID LESNICK

Daily Inter Lake

For this event — the Western AA seeding tournament on Saturday at Flathead High School — it’s strictly a numbers game.

There are no trophies or titles for teams to be had, just seven schools attempting to qualify as many wrestlers as possible in the highest seeds for the state meet next week in Billings.

That’s the only focus.

Flathead last year had seven individual champions and advanced 22 grapplers for the state tournament. Those numbers helped the Braves claim the AA championship for the first time since 2010.

The Braves return five seeding champions in Bryce Shaffer (113), Tanner Russell (126), Payton Hume (152), Tucker Nadeau (170) and Michael Lee (285).

Russell has moved up three weight classes to 145. Hume jumps two to 170 while Nadeau moves up one to 182.

Colby Martin (170) and Hunter Wellcome (182) were second at the 2017 seeding. Martin is at the same weight this year with Wellcome up to 205.

Flathead has 16 placers back from this event a year ago.

“Our goal every year is to qualify all 26 wrestlers,” Flathead coach Jeff Thompson said of the maximum number.

“In reality though, if we can qualify 22 again this year that will set us up well at state.”

The Braves are led this year, record wise, by Nadeau. He is 41-0 and 15-0 versus AA competition.

Hume is close behind at 36-4. He is 14-1 versus AA.

The Braves will have 23 wrestlers on the mat Saturday sporting an overall record of .500 or better.

Shaffer checks in at 31-11.

Russell and Dominic Battello (120) are both 28-13.

Two more wrestlers who could break past the 30-win total on Saturday are Garrett Rieke (160), who is 27-6, and Alex Paull (285), who is 27-4.

“I think this year Western and Eastern divisions are pretty close on depth and talent,” Thompson said.

“Missoula Sentinel, Big Sky, Helena Capital, and us are all very solid teams that could be bringing home a state trophy in two weeks.”

Flathead, which was ranked No. 1 for much of the season, is second behind Bozeman in the last poll.

Wrestlers competing at 113, 138, 145, and 205 are in the most loaded weight classes. Of those, 138 has the most depth.

“Eight potential state placers on the Western side,” Thompson said of 138.

“And 113 has three state finalists in that one.”

The top eight advance to state.

Glacier advanced 14 wrestlers to state from last year’s seeding tournament. That number doubled its total from the year before.

Seven seeding placers from a year ago are back for the Wolfpack. Bridger Beach (113 pounds this year) was sixth while Dylan Miller (103), Caden Willis (132), Andrew Glynn (152) and Tremayne Krause (285) were seventh and Caden Gilmond (160) and Mason Torrez (170) were eighth.

“This year we are coming into the seeding tournament with a much more experienced crew then last year, so we are hoping to improve on our placings, while maintaining or growing the number of wrestlers we sent,” Glacier coach Ross Dankers said.

“We had a great tournament last year where I think we hit our peak, so we are excited for the possibility to do it again, and then peak one more time at state.”

Krause has the best record for Glacier at 27-10. He’s 13-7 versus AA competition.

Also boasting 20 or more wins are Tristan Little (120) at 21-20, Willis 22-16 and Glynn 21-18.

Glacier will have 12 wrestlers competing who have a record of .500 or better.

Wrestling begins at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude at 6 p.m.

“The one thing were hoping for is just some higher places in the weight classes,” Dankers said.

“Last year all but two were seventh- and eighth- place finishes. We’re looking to build on that.”

Dankers is expecting a big day from Krause.

“Pretty steady,” he said of his heavweight’s efforts overall to date.

“He continues to get better each time he gets on the mat. He has some good practice partners in the room who have been pushing him.”

Dankers said also he’s expecting to see more progress from his freshman wrestlers, who “have been pretty surprising.”

The Wolfpack will have seven at the seeding tournament.

Lineups for Western AA divisional seeding tournament

Saturday

At Flathead High School

11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Flathead

103 — Brendan Barnes, so., 42-4 (18-1), 4th at seeding

Tilynne Vasquez, so. 9-2 (1-1)

113 — Bryce Shaffer, sr., 31-11 (12-3), 1st at seeding

Damian Naldrett, so., 12-6 (2-1)

120 — Dominic Battello, jr., 28-13 (10-5), 6th at seeding

Cody Moats, sr., 8-4 (1-1), 3rd at divisional

126 — Braden Comer, jr.. 13-20 (3-8), 5th at seeding

Hunter Reichert, jr. 16-13 (4-7)

132 — Jaden MacNeil, jr., 24-13 (9-5), 5th at seeding

AJ Ekanger, so., 13-6 (3-3)

138 — Bo Meyer, jr., 18-18 (5-10)

Derrek Knoll, so., 15-7 (1-2)

145 — Tanner Russell, so., 28-13 (11-6), 1st at seeding

Finn Sullivan, jr., 15-5 (2-1)

152 — Kenyon Fretwell, sr., 27-11 (11-4), 3rd at seeding

Joseph Battello, sr., 15-4 (3-4)

160 — Garrett Rieke, so., 27-6 (13-2), 5th at seeding

Paxton Boyce, 15-3 (5-2), sixth at divisional

170 — Payton Hume, sr., 36-4 (14-1), 1st at seeding

Colby Martin, jr., 21-10 (5-2), 2nd at divisional

182 — Tucker Nadeau, sr., 41-0 (15-0), 1st at seeding

Taylor Morton, sr., 4-3 (2-2)

205 — Hunter Wellcome, sr., 19-11 (7-6), 2nd at seeding

Ross Calhoon, jr., 4-1 (0-0)

285 — Michael Lee, sr., 25-5 (8-3), 1st at seeding

Alex Paull, sr., 27-4 (10-2), 4th at seeding

Glacier

103 — Dylan Miller, jr., 17-6 (9-5), 7th at seeding

Cody Frost, fr., 16-6 (6-1)

113 — Kael Willis, fr., 14-16 (8-8)

Bridger Beach, so., 9-13 (2-5), 6th at seeding

120 — Tristan Little, jr., 21-20 (8-11)

Lance Fretwell, fr., 12-11 (5-7)

126 — Lance Wieting, fr., 2-4 (0-0)

George Bulgar, fr., 1-4 (0-0)

132 — Caden Willis, jr., 22-16 (15-7), 7th at seeding

138 — Andrew Dixon, so., 1-13 (0-3)

Blake Franklin, fr., 3-9 (0-0)

145 — Colton Todd, so., 8-7 (3-2)

152 — Andrew Glynn, sr., 21-18 (9-12), 7th at seeding

160 — Caden Gilmond, so., 13-21 (10-13), 8th at seeding

Nathan Mills, so., 3-3 (0-1)

170 — Mason Torrez, jr., 14-8 (7-4), 8th at seeding

182 — Wesley Palmer, jr., 14-24 (6-12)

205 — Connor Knoeplfe-DeReu, sr., 14-20 (7-13)

Connor Crock, fr., 9-3 (0-0)

285 — Tremayne Krause, jr., 27-10 (13-7), 7th at seeding

Larrison Stevens, jr., 5-2 (1-0)

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