Bulldogs defuse Spartans’ rally for win on mats

By Bruce Sayler

The more bouts the better has been the philosophy in the Cory Johnston realm of Butte High wrestling through his tenure.
It continues. Tuesday night, the Bulldogs mixed the lineup with sprinklings of backups supporting usual first-stringers and Butte High won a 51-22 dual meet against Missoula Sentinel in a Western AA Conference event. The meet was held in the old Butte High gym.
Bulldogs were wrestling in a mixer in Deer Lodge, too, on Tuesday and a delegation competed Monday night in Dillon in another mixer. Butte High wrestling is busy.
“We’re coming off a grueling weekend and right back into it,” Johnston said, referring to the Tom LeProwse Memorial Bozeman Invitational meet in which the Bulldogs placed eighth Friday and Saturday. “So, I think we did a pretty good job tonight. They were matches with divisional opponents that we won and anytime you can do that it is nice.”
Mentioned that some newer faces were again in the lineup, Johnston responded: “It is kind of who we are and who we want to be.”
With the thick of the wrestling schedule in bloom, the Bulldogs are picking which matches to enter wrestlers while creating depth through experience gains.
Butte High led wire to wire though the boys’ matches, but did see a short challenge from Sentinel.
The round began at 153 pounds and it was rigorous. Bulldog junior Will Stepan built a 4-0 lead through two periods before surviving Luke Widman’s rally and posting a 6-5 decision win. Standout Maverick McEwen followed with a 1-minute, 35-second pin over Colin Lerback at 160 pounds and Butte High was up by 9-0 in the team score.
It went to 15-0 when Butte High senior 170-pounder Adien Cuchine pinned Blake Dunning a breath before the first-period buzzer.
Missoula wrestling legacy lengthener Zander Beck gained a pin in 3 minutes to put Sentinel on the scoreboard. Spartan teammate Sean Polk got a 29-second pin at 205 and suddenly Sentinel was within three points, 15-12.
Butte High put up some distance on a 1:54 pin by Kade Schleeman at the 285-pound limit weight class, and on a forfeit win by 103-pounder Keegan Hunt. So, the Bulldogs led 27-12 and got pins down the stretch from Colter Espelin at 120, Ryder McEwen at 132, Bode Hazlett at 138 and Trey Hansen at 145 to clinch the victory.
Johnston said sickness has been making its way through the roster, too, but said it is common for the sport this time of the year throughout Montana.
“That’s what happens when you throw everybody into the gym and wrestle,” he said. “We have a little sickness, but everybody in the state does right now.”
The seasoning available to the younger prospects in varsity environments will be beneficial in its own way, the coach said.
“These freshmen and sophomores will someday be our seniors,” he said.
Sentinel brought two girls to compete against Butte High girls in three bouts. Aurora Barat won two of them and Butte High got a win from Aydin Gonzales.
The Bulldogs will compete in the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic boys’ wrestling tournament this weekend at the Sentinel High gym in Missoula. The Butte High girls will also be in Missoula, vying in the Hellgate Girls’ Invitational meet at Hellgate High. A third Butte High boys’ team entry will be in the field of the John Fisher Invitational tourney at Big Sky High in Missoula on Friday.
Butte High 51, Missoula Sentinel 22
152 – Will Stepan, Butte, dec. Luke Widman 6-5. 160 – Maverick McEwen, Butte, pinned Colin Lerback 1:35. 170 – Adien Cuchine, Butte, pinned Blake Dunning 1:59. 182 – Zander Beck, Sentinel, pinned Bridger Brancamp 3:00. 205 – Sean Polk, Sentinel, pinned Garrett Henson :29. 285 – Kade Schleeman, Butte, pinned Brayden Wallace 1:54. 103 – Keegan Hunt, Butte, won by forfeit. 113 – Jayce Kolendich, Sentinel, dec. Bradey Doyle 8-6 (OT). 120 – Colter Espelin, Butte, pinned Bryton Lenz 3:04. 126 – Kade Wallace, Sentinel, pinned Grady Winston 1:58. 132 – Ryder McEwen, Butte, pinned Kyle Vermillion 1:45. 138 – Bode Hazlett, Butte, pinned John Hire 1:49. 145 – Trey Hansen, Butte, pinned Drew Fuller 1:10.
Girls’ Matches
120 – Aurora Barnt, Sentinel, pinned Bella Real 1:38. 120 – Aydin Gonzales, Butte, major dec. Nicole Martens 13-2. 120 – Aurora Barnt, Sentinel, pinned Keeleigh Doherty 3:36.



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