Butte High’s wrestling team opened the Jim Bob Humphrey era Friday in the Richardson Memorial Gym, though not quite in the fashion the first-year Bulldog head coach had hoped for.
The Bulldogs dropped a tough 45-30 dual to Kalispell Flathead, then fell to defending Class AA State team champion Kalispell Glacier 51-25 in the night cap.
“Tonight was definitely an eye-opener,” Humphrey said after the completion of the matches. “We need some more time to get everything together, but I liked the way the guys are fighting.”
Butte High got a double win from freshman 112-pounder Kelly Merrick, who got past Flathead’s Dyan Guzman 13-7, then pinned Glacier’s Austin Cheney just 21 seconds into their match. Merrick trailed Guzman 5-1 in the second period, but rallied with a big-guy style throw that resulted in a takedown and three near-fall points. Merrick outscored Guzman 6-2 in the third period to seal the win. Merrick then used a double-leg takedown to take Glacier’s Cheney straight to his back, where the match ended.
Butte senior 135-pounder Gage Weston won his only contested match of the day, utilizing superior strength and speed in dispatching Flathead’s Tanner Fletcher on 1:21. Weston won by forfeit in the dual match with Glacier.
Butte sophomore Levi Renz was solid in his first match of the night, scoring a sharp double against Flathead’s Logan Wilson, then taking the Brave straight to his back, where Renz collected the pin in 42 seconds.
Jarret Rowling followed Renz’s double-leg pin with a single-leg takedown straight to the back for a 60-second pin. Rowling fell behind early in his second match against Glacier’s Alek Mitchell, but showed good heart in hanging tough with his opponent in a 12-8 loss.
Butte sophomore Lee Cannon won his second match after suffering an opening pin against Flathead. In the final match of the day, Cannon was dominant in his 11-3 major decision of Adam Frandsen. Cannon earned an escape, a takedown and a near fall in a six-point second period, before putting the match out of reach in the third with another five-second near-fall exposure.
Butte’s Tommy Challeen saw a tough first match against Flathead’s Suny Cheff slip through his fingers, as a pair of penalty points made the difference in a 3-1 loss. Challeen shook off the loss, however, as well as an early takedown by Glacier’s Grant Tafoya, in rallying for a 12-4 win over the Glacier standout. Challeen relied on hustle in coming back for the major decision, as he allowed just a pair of escapes in the final two periods.
Butte 125-pounder Joey Blunt scored a methodical second-period pin of Flathead’s Easton Terry, and was leading in his match with Glacier’s Ryder Day, when he suffered a slip late in the first period that resulted in a reversal and subsequent pin loss.
Bulldog freshman Braxton Henningsen opened the day with an excellent 5-4 win over Flathead’s Gavyn Wilson. Henningsen gave up an early penalty point, as he forgot his mouthguard, but wasn’t flustered at all, showing great defense in countering a quarter nelson into his own takedown. Henningsen rallied from a 4-3 deficit with 27 seconds left in the match, escaping from a cradle and collecting reversal points for a 5-4 win.
Butte sophomore Blake Bowen lost both matches Friday, but showed huge improvement from last season, and hustled into the lead at one point in his opening match. Butte senior Blake Kraus went to double overtime in his opening match before losing a tough one as well.
Senior heavyweight Billy Robinson gave up too much weight in a pair of losses Friday, while Andre Vialpandpo also suffered a pair of defeats at 160 pounds.
Bulldog junior Willy Shea absorbed a tough first-round pin against Flathead, but stormed back in his second match against Glacier’s Quinn Barber. Shea displayed good defense in his 130-pouind bout, then ran to a 14-1 advantage before posting the pin with 16 seconds remaining in the match.
“We had several matches where we didn’t finish, but we had some good efforts today,” Humphrey said. “The good thing is we get to go right back at it tomorrow.”
Butte will take to the road to participate in the Helena Duals on Saturday before returning to Butte for the Mining City Duals next weekend.
Flathead 45, Butte 30
98 – Jed Cheff, Flathead, p. Blake Bowen 2:30. 105 – Lucas DeCock, Flathead, won by forfeit. 112 – Kelly Merrick, Butte, d. Dyan Guzman 13-7. 119 – Braxton Henningsen, Butte,d. Gavyn Wilson 5-4. 125 – Joey Blunt, Butte, p. Easton Terry 3:16. 130 – Tyler Davis, Flathead, p. Willy Shea 2:48. 135 – Gage Weston, Butte, p. Tanner Fletcher 1:21. 140 – Levi Renz, Butte, p. Logan Wilson :42. 145 – Jarret Rowling, Butte, p. Cole Delaughder 1:00. 152 – Suny Cheff, Flathead, d. Tommy Challeen 3-1. 160 – Nick Iavicoli, Flathead, p. Andre Vialpando 3:27. 171 – Jacob Egley, Flathead, p. Lee Cannon 1:41. 189 – Mitch Stivers, Flathead, d. Blake Kraus 7-2 (2OT). 215 – Jake Shaffer, Flathead, won by forfeit. 285 – Axel Bladholm, Flathead, d. Billy Robinson 10-5.
Glacier 51, Butte 25
98 – Ryan Danielson, Glacier, p. Blake Bowen :47. 105 – open. 112 – Kelly Merrick, Butte, p. Austin Cheney :21. 119 – Cody Decker, Glacier, p. Braxton Henningsen 1:37. 125 – Ryder Day, Glacier, p. Joey Blunt 1:56. 130 – Willy Shea, Butte, p. Quinn Barber 5:44. 135 – Gage Weston, Butte, won by forfeit. 140 – Kaleb Mitchell, Glacier, p. Levi Renz 1:29. 145 – Alek Mitchell, Glacier, d. Jarret Rowling 12-8. 152 – Tommy Challeen, Butte, md. Grant Tafoya 12-4. 160 – Jackson Barber, Glacier, p. Andre Vialpando 1:58. 171 – Lee Cannon, Butte, md. Adam Frandsen 11-3. 189 – Dawson Day, Glacier, p. Blake Kraus :58. 215 – A.J. Robinson, Glacier, won by forfeit. 285 – Zach Dennehy, Glacier, p. Billy Robinson 2:37.