By Pat Ryan
BILLINGS – The Maroons are short on numbers, but they’re tall on heart.
Butte Central’s four wrestlers made a good showing Friday in the opening day of the 2017 All-Class Montana State Wrestling tourney at MetraPark Arena in Billings.
Clay Fisher led the Maroons with a pair of opening wins that put him in Saturday’s semifinal round, while Roy Russell and Colter Stillwagon are each still competing for a shot at the consolation title. Theron Nelson wrestled well, but was eliminated after his first two matches.
“I think we had a pretty decent day,” Butte Central head coach Robin Moodry said. “I was proud of them. They did well and they left everything on the mat. And hopefully tomorrow we’ll do the same and finish up strong.”
Fisher, who won last weekend’s Western A divisional, came in with some momentum and put it right to work in a first-period pin of Browning’s Tommy Campbell. Brendan Gill of Park lasted into the second period of their quarterfinal match, but Fisher continued his roll with a pin at the 3:00 mark.
Saturday’s semifinal pits Fisher against Havre freshman Bridger Williams, who comes in with a 25-7 ledger. Two of the losses are to Fisher, though the latest was a slim 3-2 decision.
“Clay’s wrestling well,” Moodry said. “We just need to stay tough and take it a match at a time.”
After opening with a tough 6-3 decision loss to Livingston’s Cameron Younger, Stillwagon stayed alive in the 170-pound bracket with a second-period pin of Havre’s Taylor Gopher. Stillwagon finished his day with a rousing 7-5 decision over a tough opponent in Polson’s Kolby Garcia.
“I think that’s Colter’s best match this season,” Moodry said. “He really hustled, and now he just needs one more win to place.”
That match will come against Glendive’s Nelson Crisafulli Saturday morning.
Russell opened his 103-pound bracket with a 16-1 technical fall over Hardin’s Keith Pretty Weasel that took all six minutes. The short win streak stopped in the quarters, as Polson’s Kendrick Baker hung on for a tough 17-13 win over the Central junior. Russell stayed alive when he ran an impressive 11-4 decision up against Whitefish’s Anwar Mirza. Russell will now face Sidney’s Kaiden Cline in the consolation quarterfinals.
Nelson lost a tough first match, and was on his back at the end of the first period of his second match. Still, Nelson fought back and registered some unanswered takedowns to make the contest competitive. He was on the offensive when the match ended with a 12-11 loss.
“I wish there was another 30 seconds in that match,” Moodry said with a laugh. “That was probably his best match of the season.
“We had a pretty decent day and I’m pretty pleased,” he continued. “I feel like we’re peaking at the right time, and now we’ll see what’s around the corner.”
Havre leads the Class A team ranks with 112 points, while Columbia Falls has 89.5 and Hardin sits in third with 65. The Maroons are in 17th place with 19.5 team points.
Full results are available at trackwrestling.com