The Bulldogs did what they could, but a combination of two tough Billings wrestling teams and a depleted Butte High lineup led to a pair of losses in the Bulldogs’ final duals of the season Saturday afternoon at Richardson Memorial Gym.
Billings Senior rolled past the host team 64-9, then Billings West held the Bulldogs off for a 50-26 decision. Butte lost a few close matches on the day, a fact that didn’t sit well with head coach Jim Bob Humphrey.
“We’ve just got to learn how to win,” Humphrey said of his team. “We have to start creating our own luck.”
Butte 135-pounder Levi Renz was the only double winner of the day for the Bulldogs, pinning Senior’s Cory Wagner in the third period, then posting a 19-3 technical fall win over West’s Justin Gordon. Renz displayed excellent quickness on his feet in both matches, shooting solid double-leg takedowns almost at will. The sophomore also showed great mat awareness, as he finished takedowns by sinking arm bars on the way down to the deck.
Renz held a 13-1 lead over Wagner going into the third period, where the Bulldog was starting from the bottom position. Renz took just 10 seconds from the whistle until he had the Bronc on his back for the pin. Renz didn’t claim a pin against Gordon, but the only points the Bear got were three escapes where he was cut loose.
Willy Shea lost a close 4-2 battle against Senior’s Greg Contreraz, as his late reversal attempt came up short, but the Bulldog rallied against West’s Thomas Sawatske to earn a split on the day. Wrestling on two sore ankles, Shea took Sawatske to his back with a cowcatcher to earn an early lead before ending the match via pin midway through the second period.
At 125 pounds, Joey Blunt posted a hard-fought 4-0 win over Senior’s Matthew Schmidt, scoring a reversal in the second period and then sealing the win with a late takedown in the third. Blunt found himself fighting out of a cradle against West’s Nate Richardson, and his head-and-arm throw came a second too late as the third period ended on a 4-3 loss.
Lee Cannon drew a tough opponent in the Senior dual, as Luke Paine scored seven takedowns before running a bar for a pin in the second period. Cannon had no easy go in the West dual either, but hustled for an opening takedown and never trailed against Jordan Jacobson. Cannon never led by much, either, and was tied 6-6 with 75 seconds left in the match. The Butte sophomore dug deep to outspin his opponent and get the winning takedown with 20 seconds to go.
Butte, which was without a number of wrestlers for a number of reasons, ended its dual season with an 11-11 record. The Bulldogs will now focus on the Eastern AA seeding tournament, which will be held next Saturday in Bozeman.
“We’ve got five days of work,” Humphrey said of the Bulldogs’ practice schedule. “Hopefully we’ll heal. We’ve got some bumps and bruises, but it’s kind of a deal where no (team) in the state is healthy. Still, we don’t have any time to feel sorry for ourselves. It’s go time.”
(Photos below the results are by Bret Graden. To buy high-quality copies of these photos or others like it, got to gradenphotography.com.)
Billings Senior 64, Butte 9
98 – Brendon Vladic, Senior, p. Blake Bowen :57. 105 – Tiger Frye, Senior, p. Tyler Ossello 3:24. 112 – Brett Ness, Senior, d. Kayden Queer 7-2. 119 – Evan Turnquist, Senior, d. Ax Henningsen 7-2. 125 – Joey Blunt, Butte, d. Matthew Schmidt 4-0. 130 – Greg Contreraz, Senior, d. Willy Whea 4-2. 135 – Levi Renz, Butte, p. Cory Wagner 4:10. 140 – Tyller Cortez, Senior, md. Guy St. John 12-3. 145 – Ben Askelson, Senior, d. Andre Vialpando 2-1. 152 – Sonny Meyer, Butte, d. Andy Anderson 7-5. 160 – Devin Maua, Senior, p. Nick Challeen 4:53. 171 – Luke Paine, Senior, p. Lee Cannon 2:58. 189 – Jake Foster, Senior, won by forfeit. 215 – Koby Jeffers, Senior, p. Johnny Walker 2:33. 285 – Kael Giebink, Senior, p. Billy Robinson 3:04.
Billings West 50, Butte 26
105 – Dillon Hoppe, West, p. Tyler Ossello 1:28. 112 – Trayson Marker, West, md. Kayden Queer 13-0. 119 – Shylo Rambin, West. D. Ax Henningsen 2-0. 125 – Nate Richardson, West. D. Joey Blunt 4-3. 130 – Willy Shea, Butte, p. Thomas Sawatske 3:08. 135 – Levi Renz, Butte, tf. Justin Gordon 19-3. 140 – Koby Reyes, West, md. Guy St. John 18-5. 145 – Andre Vialpando, Butte, won by forfeit. 152 – Hunter Gerth, West, p. Andy Anderson 5:13. 160 – J.R. Slotsve, West, p. Nick Challeen 3:05. 171 – Lee Cannon, Butte, d. Jordan Jacobson 8-7. 189 – Jake Leinwand, West, won by forfeit. 215 – Nick Jackson, West, p. Johnny Walker 1:03. 285 – Billy Robinson, Butte, won by forfeit.