It’s often a “numbers game” in high school wrestling, especially in sparsely populated communities in Montana. Two of those are in Sanders County, the home of two co-ops — the Plains/Hot Springs Savage Horsemen, and the Thompson Falls/Noxon Bluehawks.
Thompson Falls/Noxon took seven wrestlers to the Cut Bank Boosters Invitational last Saturday, and four of them were medal winners (see story on page A7 of this issue).
Plains/Hot Springs competed in the 19-school Dave Edington Western Montana Duals in Ronan last Friday and Saturday. Nearly every school had more wrestlers in action than the Savage Horsemen, especially with Taylor Angle under the weather Friday and Conrad Vanderwall out of action Saturday due to illness.
The Savage Horsmen opened with a 21-15 win over the Clark Fork Mountain Cats in “pool duals” Friday. After that, they were outpointed by Corvallis 39-12, Stevensville 48-24 and Ronan 36-24. With the 1-3 record, Plains/Hot Springs did not qualify for the eight-team championship bracket on Saturday. Instead, the team members had mixer matches against grapplers from other bracket non-qualifiers.
IN THE pool dual win over Clark Fork, Savage Horsemen head coach Jeff Kujala “jumped up” several wrestlers one weight class for the best possible number of matches. Winners were Conrad Vanderwall (138 pounds), and Josiah Vanderwall and Bert DeTienne (both at 152).
The only Plains/Hot Springs wrestler actually in action and who won against Corvallis was Josiah Vanderwall, by fall. Peter Carey got a forfeit win.
Plains/Hot Springs forfeited five weight classes against Stevi, “so it was 30 points they had right off the bat,” Kujala said.
Winners by fall were Carey (120), Conrad Vanderwall (132), Josiah Vanderwall (138) and DeTienne (145).
Getting wins in the Ronal pool dual were Carey, Josiah Vanderwall, DeTienne and Jesse Uski — all by fall.
“We won most of our matches, we wrestled aggressively, but we gave up 30 points before we got started,” Kujala said of the forfeited weight classes against the larger schools. “We can’t compete, numbers-wise. Duals are hard to deal with. We do have a good time going in there (tournaments) to see some different kids. We don’t get that opportunity very often.”
A HIGHLIGHT for the Savage Horsemen was sophomore heavyweight Steven Yoder earning his first victory of the year.
“The kids seem to be advancing in their technique,” Kujala said.
The Plains/Hot Springs squad was back in action Tuesday, Jan. 8 at a Superior Mixer, then they take part in the Choteau Invitational Friday and Saturday.
“We’ll see more of the (Class) B/C teams there, other than at state,” Kujala said. “We’ll see competition from the north, east and south.”