Butte couldn’t help but be diplomatic. Midsummer wrestling seemed more to the German team’s liking.
A freestyle mat exhibition Tuesday evening at Butte High saw a 38-15 dual-meet victory for the traveling Team Wurttemberg of Germany, The visitors outpointed a squad made up of 13 Butte High wrestlers, two graduated Bulldog standouts and one participant from Dillon.
It gave new Butte High head coach Cory Johnston a first competitive look as some of his charges, albeit in a freestyle competition rather than collegiate style. He liked what he saw, given the situation.
“First of all, we don’t do a lot of freestyle,” he conceded after the bouts in the Ross J. Richardson Memorial Gym. “I loved our kids’ efforts. They were 100 percent and I am very pleased about that. I can’t ask for more than that.”
Johnston came to Butte from Ronan where he headed the Chiefs’ Class B-C program. He has Butte roots, being the son of former Butte Central state champ Mark Johnston.
The German team was making its third trip to Butte over the last few years on its international tours. Butte wrestlers have been part of similar exchange programs to Germany and other locations. Some participants have made multiple journeys, such as Wurttemberg’s Julian Fauth, who marked his third trip to Butte Tuesday. So, some familiarities were in play.
“Some stayed at my house last time,” Butte wrestler Tommy Challeen said. “I thought one of them was the kid I wrestled, but I had actually stayed at his when I went to Germany.”
Challeen was a three-time place-winner for Butte High during his prep days, but hadn’t wrestled in the three years he has been attending Montana Tech since graduation, he said. Still, he was one of three Butte winners, scoring a 12-4 major decision over Alexander Esslinger at 146 pounds. Challeen dominated with three takedowns and a succession of shoulder points.
However, it wasn’t all fun and games, he said, especially enduring the two 3-minute periods.
“I didn’t enjoy it at the end, not for as long as it was,” the engineering major said. “I hadn’t done much conditioning and I haven’t actually wrestled in about three years. It makes a big difference.
“I do kind of miss it.”
Lee Cannon and Kaleb Ferriter were Butte’s other winners. Cannon, the reigning Class AA 205-pound state champion, won on an injury default after Christoph Kramer was unable to continue due to hurting his leg during the 210-pound match. Cannon graduated this spring and will wrestle for Minot State in continuing his career.
Ferriter beat Tarik Vilmaz 18-2 for a technical fall at 146 pounds. The incoming Bulldog senior was superior in the takedowns and then rolled up points with leg laces and shoulder tilts to end the match early in the second period. He held a commanding 14-2 advantage at first break. Ferriter rolled Vilmaz over his back for the last two points of the bout on shoulder points.
The closest match of the dual meet was an 11-10 decision, Max Lenz of Wurttemberg over Butte High wrestler Kadon Queer. Lenz held an early 4-0 lead and the first period ended 4-2 after Queer notched a takedown. Lenz scored on takedowns and a reversal to open up a 10-5 margin before Queer stormed back. Queer scored back points, then gave up an escape before executing a takedown and earned back points. He scored two more points and was trying to touch Lenz’s shoulder to the mat again when the buzzer sounded.
The German wrestlers ranged in age from 15 to 25 and the matchups were “pretty much blind draw,” Johnston said. The style, too, was different from America’s high school competition. Johnston still found a lot of positives from the matches.
“Absolutely. The situations were different,” he agreed. “But a lot of the positions are the same, such as you never want to expose your back to the mat at anytime unless you’re in control. And I saw some things we need to get better at to make us tough to beat.”
One example of the unfamiliarity styles, Johnston said had to do with one of his wrestlers not knowing how having his shoulder touch the mat cost him points. He was surprised.
“He thought he was winning 2-0 when he was actually losing 14-2,” Johnston said.
Johnston, a former two-time state Class B-C titlist for Glasgow where his dad coached him, said the Bulldogs held their annual wrestling camp last week and the members have been working out in open gyms. So, the competition Tuesday was a kind of a reward for dedicated contestants.
“You take your lumps and move on,” the new coach said, “but anytime you can get kids wrestling in the summertime, it’s a move forward.”
Team Wurttemberg 38, Butte 15
148 — Rico Strubel, TW, dec. Willie Anderson 12-6. 166 — Beat Schaible, TW, pinned Kaden Schonsberg 5:18. 174 — Max Lenx dec. Kadon Queer 11-10. 183 — Julian Fauth, TW, won by technical fall over Cole Gillespie, 16-0. 210 — Lee Cannon, Butte, won by injury default over Christopher Kramer. 110 — Marius Oechsle, TW, major dec. Tyler Casey 12-0. 130 — Andre Wuchenauer, TW, pinned Kyle Konda :55. 132 — Leon Gerstenberger, TW, won by technical fall over Kelly Merrick, 15-0. 132 — Akif Sen, TW, pinned Kwin Stoddard, Dillon, :44. 137 — Henri Schimmer, TW, pinned Tyler Vetter :59. 139 — Dominic Schumny, TW, won by technical fall over Braxton “Ax” Henningsen 19-4. 146 — Alexander Mutz, TW, pinned Bryson Henningsen, 2:19. 146 — Tommy Challeen, Butte, major dec. Alexander Esslinger 12-4. 146 — Kaleb Ferriter, Butte, won by technical fall over Tarik Yilmaz 18-2. 174 — Beat Schaible, TW, won by technical fall over Quinn Cunneen 16-0.