Bulldogs return to spotlight, take down Panthers

Bulldogs return to spotlight, take down Panthers
Butte High's Kade Schleeman works toward a pin of Belgrade's Raiden Krespin in a heavyweight bout Tuesday night at Butte High's old gym. (Bill Foley photo)

Butte High racks up six pins in home victory

By Bruce Sayler 

Butte High’s wrestlers passed another stern test Tuesday night. If they did so with flying colors, the colors didn’t blur until late in the matches. 

“We know they’re tough, really tough” head coach Cory Johnston said after the Bulldogs outpointed the Belgrade Panthers 48-28 in a non-conference Class AA dual meet held in the old Butte High gym. “Coach (Bryce) Weatherston is doing a nice job there. He had to start his reign on a Covid year and now you can see his coaching taking over. Belgrade is wrestling hard.” 

The Panthers are in their second year of Class AA and hold down the No. 5 spot in the first Class AA poll of the season. They are ranked one ledge above Butte High, though the Bulldogs were the runners-up in their own Mining City Jim Street Family Duals tournament over the weekend. 

Belgrade proved its worth there, lasting to the consolation finals before bowing out to eventual third place finisher Billings Senior. Flathead of Kalispell won the Butte tourney. 

The Panthers entered the dual meet Tuesday with three individuals ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes. All three – 103-pounder Nolan Brown, 120-pounder Mason Gutenberger and 126-pounder Carter Schmidt — defended their rankings under the spotlight in the Butte High gym. 

“It was a good effort by our team (to win the dual meet),” Johnston said. “We talked before about what we wanted to see and what we wanted to see was good matches. That’s what we got. 

“At this point of the year, it is a good time to see these tough matches and then in February, you’re not surprised. The more good, tough matches you get on film, the better.”  

Butte High opened strong and then weathered a strong comeback run by Belgrade. Two forfeits favoring the Bulldogs provided the needed edge on paper, but some good individual performances did their parts, too. 

The dual meet began at 182 pounds and saw Riley Downey of Butte High score a first-period pin over Ben Rodgers in 1 minute, 47 seconds. Downey scored first on the takedown and then applied a double arm-bar to score back points and put the Panther in pinning position. Downey came into the bout ranked fifth at 182 while Rodgers was ranked sixth. 

Belgrade having a vacancy at 205 gave Butte High another six points before the 285-pound limit contestants took to the mat. Bulldog Kade Schleeman grabbed a 6-0 lead through the first period on a takedown and two near-falls, then won on a pin in the second. He clocked 3:16 over Raiden Krespin, using a reversal to maneuver for the pin. 

Undefeated Brown was a rugged first varsity match for Butte High freshman Cameron LeProwse and the result was a first-period pin for the Panther standout. LeProwse was subbing for Reid Whitlock. 

Second-ranked 113-pounder Colton Gutenberger won at 113 for Belgrade over Trey Whitlock on an 8-0 major decision. Whitlock was a state tournament runner-up last year and is ranked fifth at 113. 

The Panthers prowled even closer when Mason Gutenberg got a third-period fall against third-ranked and previously undefeated Kyler Raiha in a battle of strong state contenders. Butte High’s lead was 18-16 at that point and then it evaporated in the next bout. 

Schmidt nearly went to his back on an almost takedown by sixth-ranked Butte High freshman Karson Pumnea, but rallied for a second-period pin after taking an 8-0 lead in the first frame. Kip Pumnea brought the lead back to the Bulldogs in the next match when he dominated the first period, ending it against Blake Eatman with a pin seven seconds before the buzzer. Pumnea is No. 7 at 132 pounds in the AA poll. 

Surprisingly unranked 138-pounder Maverick McEwen of Butte High made a case for the attention when he flattened Christian Lingenfelter in 1:17. A Belgrade open slot at 145 stretched Butte High’s lead to 36-22. Belgrade notched its last win at 152 pounds when Hunter Rowan got a second-period fall over fifth-ranked Trey Hansen in a rigorous bout that saw Hansen lead the earlier portion. 

The clinching win came from 160-pounder Morgan McClernan, who came back from two deficits to stick Colter Lindsley in 1:41. The wrestlers traded reversals twice with McClernan turning the last one into a pin. 

Gavin Vetter provided the capper for Butte High with a 40-second pin over John Nevin at 170 pounds. 

Johnston said a couple of the Bulldog wrestlers usually in the lineup were held out as part of managing the lineup, bouts and season, and not because of new injuries. Reid Whitlock and Wiley Dallaserra both sat out of action. Heavyweight Zach Tierney is healing a football injury. 

The win was the Bulldogs’ seventh in eight dual meets, all against Class AA opposition, this year. They will send their first team to a tournament in Gillette, Wyoming, this weekend, while the second team competes in the CMR Holiday Classic tournament in Great Falls. 

Butte High 48, Belgrade 28 

182 pounds – Riley Downey, Butte, pinned Ben Rodgers, 1:47. 205 – Mason Christian, Butte, won by forfeit. 285 – Kade Schleeman, Butte, pinned Raiden Krespin, 3:16. 103 – Nolan Brown, Belgrade, pinned Cameron LeProwse, 1:10. 113 – Colton Gutenberger, Belgrade, major dec. Trey Whitlock, 8-0. 120 – Mason Gutenberger, Belgrade, pinned Kyler Raiha, 5:31. 126 – Carter Schmidt, Belgrade, pinned Karon Pumnea, 3:21. 132 – Kip Pumnea, Butte, pinned Blake Eatman, :57. 138 – Maverick McEwen, Butte, pinned Christian Lingenfelter, 1:1`7. 145 – Connor Konda, Butte, won by forfeit. 152 – Hunter Rowan, Belgrade, pinned Trey Hansen, 3:57. 160 – Morgan McClernan, Butte, pinned Colter Lindsley, 1:41. Gavin Vetter, Butte, pinned John Nevin, :40. 

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