Five Whitefish wrestlers are headed to the state tournament after some strong performances at divisionals over the weekend.
Nathan Sproul (103), Dean Kellogg (113) and Robert Bertleson (152) all took sixth place, Dakota Flannery (138) took fourth and Jack Eisenbarth (145) took fifth at the tournament in Columbia Falls.
As a team, Whitefish finished 10th overall.
“There was good and bad,” head coach Ryan Boyle said. “It was one of those where we’re really happy we got five kids through, it was a tough tournament and they really wrestled well.”
“It would’ve been nice to get some of those consolation final matches, but we just didn’t wrestle to our ability. We had the opportunity to do a little bit better, but we still have that opportunity this week.”
Boyle said this week it’s all about mental toughness in practice.
In some of the final, tougher matches, he said he saw some of his wrestlers forget what was working and start to panic.
“That last round, it was like we went away from stuff we knew would work,” he said. “That’s the focus this week. What have we been teaching you guys, what’s going to work against those top-tier guys? We just kind of panicked, instead of going back to that basic stuff.”
Looking at state matchups, Boyle said Eisenbarth and Flannery have the best starts with their four and five-spot seeds. The other three are seeded sixth and will have to wrestle the three-seeds to start.
As a whole, Boyle said the season was all about getting his younger guys experience.
Now he’s hoping they can build on that for next season.
“We’re young, and that’s what’s great. We’re inexperienced so we need to just make sure we get that experience,” he said. “Hopefully they respond, that’s the whole thing, what do you do in the offseason. I know there’s a lot of things to do, but I just want them to get in the weight room, stay involved and kind of feed that fire and come back a little stronger next year.”
The state tournament will be held in Billings on Friday and Saturday.
Western A Divisional Tournament
Saturday At Columbia Falls
1. Frenchtown 246.5; 2. Columbia Falls 214; 3. Polson 211.5; 4. Ronan 187; 5. Libby/Troy 145.5; 6. Browning 107; 7. Hamilton/Darby 105.5; 8. Corvallis 81; 9. Beaverhead/Twin Bridges/Sheridan 76; 10. Whitefish 61; 11. Stevensville/Victor 49; 12. Butte Central 37.5.
Top eight individuals qualify for the state tournament
Fifth place — Landen Stewart, FREN, p. Nathan Sproul, WHIT, 3:59.
Fifth place — Kellen Robbins, STVI, dec. Dean Kellogg, WHIT, 10-5.
Third place — Bridger Williams, HADA, dec. Dakota Flannery, WHIT, 8-3.
Fifth place — Jack Eisenbarth, WHIT, p. Pete Gibson, BDCT, 2:44.
Fifth place — Dustin Copeland, HADA, dec. Robert Bertelsen, WHIT, 8-1.