29th annual Street Duals goes to the mats

By Pat Ryan

The 29th Mining City Duals Jim Street Classic Wrestling Tournament is set to begin Friday morning at Butte High’s gymnasiums, with the Bulldogs playing host to 23 other wrestling teams from across Montana.

The Street Duals take place on five mats over the course of two days, beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday. The championship dual is slated for 6 p.m. Saturday, though each round usually begins at the conclusion of the previous one.

Eyes will be on Havre, which has won the last three Street Duals, including 21 straight dual-match victories in the tournament. The Blue Ponies have won a total of six event titles, and haven’t lost in Butte since falling in the championship match against Sidney in 2012.

Butte High is coming off a fourth place finish last December, the Bulldogs’ first trophy in more than a decade at their signature home event. Butte High starts action in pool 6, taking on Kalispell Glacier at 10 a.m. on Mat 1, and then Conrad at 1 p.m. on Mat 2. Butte concludes its Friday slate against reigning Class AA champion Billings Senior with a dual slated to begin at 5:30 on Mat 5 in the old gym.

“We’ll try to feed off of some of the energy from last year,” said second-year Butte High head coach Cory Johnston, referring to the hot start put in by the host team in 2015. The Bulldogs knocked off defending state champion Great Falls last time around, and hope to duplicate the effort this year.

“That’s what we’re aiming for,” Johnston said.

In addition to the Bulldogs, the Blue Ponies, the Broncs, the Wolfpack, and the Cowboys, contestants at the tourney include all the other Class AA schools – Billings West and Skyview, Helena High and Capital, Great Falls High and CMR, Missoula Hellgate, Sentinel and Big Sky, Flathead and Bozeman. Columbia Falls, Belgrade, Polson, Livingston, Ronan, Dillon, Huntley Project and Frenchtown fill out the lineup.

Butte High has a 1-3 dual-meet record coming into this year’s event, as the ‘Dogs own a win over Bozeman to accompany defeats at the hands of Kalispell Flathead, Missoula Big Sky and Helena Capital.

“We didn’t come out like we did last year,” Johnston said of his team’s early dual results. “We need to realize that nothing is going to be handed to us, and I think our focus is back where it needs to be.”

Butte will line up with a solid varsity group, led off by 103-pound sophomore Wil Queer and 113-pound freshman Scout Allen. Tyler Casey and Gabe Tierney will combine as needed to man the 120-pound position, while sophomore Dale Kent holds on at 126. A row of four seniors in a row features Tyler Vetter at 132, Bryson Henningsen at 138, Willie Anderson at 145 and Kadin Schonsberg at 152. Freshman Kameron Marino is at 160 and sophomore Carl Anderson is at 170, while the Bulldogs will leave 182 open. Sophomore Kyle Harding mans the 205-pound slot, while Jeff Queer anchors the squad at heavyweight.

“We had a lot less work to do this week to make weight,” Johnston said. “It hasn’t been an issue, so hopefully we’ll feel better tomorrow.”

In addition to the varsity lineup scheduled to compete in Butte, the Bulldogs will send a contingent of wrestlers over Homestake Pass to the Whitehall Duals, which run concurrently with the Street Duals. Butte Central’s team will also compete in Whitehall this weekend.

In addition to the Whitehall Duals, mixers will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday, ensuring plenty of matches for all in attendance. Butte High will take full advantage of the situation, sending around 30 wrestlers. The ‘Dogs will put a nearly full lineup on the duals mats, and the rest will gain valuable early season mat time.

The tentative lineup for Whitehall’s Duals includes Christian Sherman at 103, Connor Webster at 113, Tucker Fulton at 120, Corey West at 126, Payton Hettick at 132, Kole McGrath at 138, Quinn Sullivan at 145, Koby Marino at 152, Clayton Moody at 160, Jory Thatcher at 170, Colton McGinnis at 182 and Greyson Mandic at heavyweight.

A link follows for the Street Duals schedule: