This past weekend saw two Sanders County wrestling teams head to Billings to battle it out with a couple hundred fellow wrestlers to see who would be crowned a state champion.
Thompson Falls Blue Hawks had seven wrestlers make their way to the coveted mats. By the time it was done, the Blue Hawks walked out with a state champion and three placings in the top five.
Kaleb Frank took the state title in the 120-pound class and cemented the name of Blue Hawks into the 2017/2018 season finale.
Other Blue Hawks who took placings were, Peyton Irvine for fourth in the 152-pound class along with Austin Cooper who also placed fourth in the 205-pound class.
Jase Sorenson took out third place for the 170-pound class.
The Savage Horsemen also had a successful run at the tournament. Taking six qualifying wrestlers, it was a bitter sweet event as they walked out to the mats.
“We [coaches] are super proud of all our wrestlers,” said assistant coach to the Savage Horsemen Jake Lile.
“Peter, Austin and Luke were all only one win away from placing. They didn’t get the win in what we call the blood round, but we are super happy with how they wrestled. They put their hearts in it,” said Lile.
All three wrestlers Peter Carey, Austin Stafford and Luke Lile, took a world of experience away from their weight groups.
“It’s hard when seniors don’t place, but there are so many other great things that they achieved through the year. It can be bitter sweet,” explained Lile.
The Vanderwall brothers Josiah and Conrad had a standout meet at the Billings tournament. Both boys only have around three years of wrestling under their belts.
“For the short amount of time for both Josiah and Conrad wrestling they did an amazing job to place,” said Lile of his novice wrestlers.
Josiah Vanderwall took sixth place at 132 pounds, while brother Conrad took sixth in the 120-pound class.
Daniel Uli who wrestles in the 126-pound class, made a statement as he took the atate title and brought it back to Plains.
“I was confident I could pull it off. I’ve been putting in the work the last couple of years and getting up to work out early in the mornings,” said Uli.
“It was a little bitter sweet that Kenny wasn’t there to share the win. I wished he could have been there, but we were all happy to be at the tournament,” added Uli.
When asked how he celebrated his win, Uli said he ate about 12 pounds of food. But he wasn’t taking too much time off as they will hit the gym for training on Tuesday.
He also added that both he and the other wrestlers are looking forward to helping coach the Little Guy wrestlers as it’s about to kick off later this week.
“We love coaching the little guys, everyone gets involved,” said Uli.
Lile said that it was a good atmosphere all the way around for those that turned out to the tournament to support Sanders County.
Former head coach Kenny Marjerison was also acknowledged at the tournament before it began.
“Having known Kenny for 14 years there were aspects of his coaching that we [coaches] all embraced throughout the year,” said Lile.
“Failing Forward” — knowing that you may not have achieved the outcome that you set out to get, but being confident within yourself that it was just not your time to take the win.
This was the final thoughts of the Savage Horsemen wrestling, knowing that the wrestlers both as a team and individuals had to overcome some personal walls as they hit the mat during the season.
“I think Kenny would be proud of how they finished the season. They did it with great integrity and sportsmanship. Thats all you can ask for,”said Lile.