3 Dogs, 2 Maroons in wrestling semifinals

All-Class State Wrestling at MetraPark Arena in Billings

7:50 p.m. update ===============

Mining City wrestling fans have something to cheer for Saturday, as five Butte wrestlers will be participating in the semifinal round. Butte High has three – Jarret Rowling, Bryce Armstrong and Lee Cannon – while Butte Central has two in Clay Stillwagon and Zach Hart.

The Bulldogs also have Joey Blunt, Levi Renz and Tommy Challeen alive in the wrestlebacks.

Blunt earned another day of wrestling with a 45-second pin of CMR’s David Bennyhoff. Blunt quickly shot for a double, which he finished with a cradle that led to the quick pin. Renz led Great Falls’ Colt Lomas 10-2 before earning the pin with 52 seconds left to wrestle. Challeen came back from a tight quarterfinal overtime loss to score a 12-3 major decision over Helena High’s Trey Kokoruda.

Butte Central’s Bryce Noctor made the second day with an upset win over Anaconda’s Carson Myer, the titlist at last week’s Southwestern A Divisional meet. Noctor and Myer traded the lead more than once, but Noctor was the last to turn the tables and ended the match on top with a third-period pin.

Maroon freshman Sean Cooney earned a win in his first trip too, but bowed out after his second loss during the second consolation round. The Maroons qualified five wrestlers for State, but only brought four, as Keighton Svejkovsky injured his knee at the Southwestern A Divisional meet last

“We’re about where we’re supposed to be,” Butte Central coach Robin Moodry said just prior to Friday’s final round. “Bryce got his first wins at a State meet, and Sean got some experience and a win in his first trip to State.”

Stillwagon scored two 14-second pins to make the semis, while Hart also pinned twice to remain in the championship bracket.

“Clay should be fresh tomorrow,” Moodry said with a hearty laugh. “Zach wrestled a couple of really good matches too. Hopefully we can keep going with a couple wins in the semis.”

6 p.m. update ================

Clay Stillwagon has spent more time on the mat in his life than most of the athletes at the State meet. On Friday, however, the Butte Central sophomore 98-pounder spent a grand total of 28 seconds in making his way to Saturday morning’s semifinal round. Stillwagon recorded a pair of 14-second pins in the first and semifinal rounds.

He was joined by fellow sophomore Zach Hart, who spent a bit more time on the mat, but the outcome was the same. Hart registered a first-period pin of Lyle Degen of Belgrade to advance to the semis. Hart left little doubt regarding the outcome, and was in control throughout.

The Maroons also saw Bryce Noctor and Sean Cooney advance through the first round of consolation action. Both will wrestle again Friday afternoon, as the second consolation round begins 30 minutes after the close of the quarterfinal/first round consolation.

Butte High battled through a mixed bag of a quarterfinal/consolation round, advancing three wrestlers to the semifinals while losing eight wrestlers to double elimination in the first consolation round.

Jarret Rowling (135), Bryce Armstrong (152) and Lee Cannon (171) all advanced to the semifinals, set to be wrestled Saturday morning beginning at 9 a.m.

Butte saw championship hopes extinguished for Levi Renz and Tommy Challeen, both of whom lost in the quarterfinals. Joey Blunt and Billy Robinson join Renz and Challeen in the consolation second round, scheduled to begin around 6 p.m.

Rowling led Helena’s Brodie Holt 11-0 in the second period before posting a pin with six seconds left in the period. Armstrong was also in control of Glacier’s Tanner Stupak before ending the match with 59 seconds left in the second period. Cannon trailed 1-0 from the second period up until the final two seconds when he managed a reversal of Helena’s Josh Diaz for a dramatic 2-1 win.

“Rowling was dominant in his match, Bryce took care of business and Lee Cannon found a way to win,” noted Butte High head coach Jim Bob Humphrey prior to the beginning of Friday’s final round.

Challeen lost a heartbreaker to CMR’s Jared Dickson in their 145-pound quarterfinal match. Challeen led much of the match after securing a second-period escape, and held the edge with good defense and excellent mat awareness. The defense caught up with Challeen late in the third period when he was docked a point for stalling, sending the match into overtime, where Dickson managed a takedown in the waning seconds of the match.

Renz battled top-ranked Lucas Mantel of Glacier, but was caught in a move that ended on his back, where the match ended in the first period.

1:15 p.m. Friday update ==========

Butte Central advanced two of four wrestlers to the Class A quarterfinals, while Butte High kept six of 15 grapplers in the championship bracket following the completion of the first round of wrestling Friday.

Clay Stillwagon got things going for the Butte Central Maroons, stapling Miles City’s Peyton Negethon in 14 seconds. Stillwagon shot the takedown in the opening five seconds, ran a half Nelson, and the match was over.

Central’s Bryce Noctor had a bit tougher go at 105 pounds, where he faced off against Eddy Day of Laurel, who pinned him in the second period. Maroon freshman Sean Cooney also had a tough draw against Sidney’s Gresh Jones, who pinned him in the first minute.

Zach Hart got Central’s second win over Wyatt Price of Whitefish in strong fashion, as the Maroon was up 14-1 in the third period before posting a fall with 65 seconds left in the match. Central’s Keighton Svejkovsky forfeited, as he injured his knee at last weekend’s Southwestern A Divisional in Dillon.

Butte High’s first match saw eight-seed Ax Henningsen butt heads with top-seed Logan McGreevey of Missoula Sentinel. Henningsen, a freshman, took some good shots, but McGreevey got the initial takedown with a fireman’s carry. The Spartan standout ran a half in the second period, where the match ended by pin.

Joey Blunt got the Bulldogs on the board with a technical fall victory over Josh Brunner of Missoula Big Sky. Blunt’s intensity was evident from the opening whistle left little room for his opponent, as Blunt scored a near fall with time expiring for the 20-3 margin.

Willy Shea faced off against top-ranked Jake Marr of Sentinel, and scored an escape and takedown to pull within 4-3 before Marr turned Shea for a second-period pin. Butte freshman Kaleb Ferriter also ran into a No. 1 from the West, as Kaleb Mitchell of Glacier ended the match in 33 seconds.

As they did once at the Eastern AA seeding meet, Butte 135-pounders Levi Renz and Jarrett Rowling wrestled on adjacent mats at the same time. And again, the matches mirrored each other as Renz pinned Ryan Glenn of Missoula Big Sky in 2:23 and Rowling pinned Cody Wood of Flathead in 2:20.

Tommy Challeen won quickly in his first match against Glacier’s Jake Barstow, pinning him in 43 seconds. Also at 145 pounds, Suny Cheff shook off a strong challenge from Butte’s Andre Vialpando to claim a late pin in the tight match.

Bryce Armstrong advanced to the quarterfinal round at 152 pounds with a first-period pin, while both of Butte High’s 160-pounders – Wyatt Merkel and Cian Randall were bumped from the championship bracket via pin.

Lee Cannon, a No. 6 seed from the East, pulled off a big win for the Bulldogs, defeating Missoula Sentinel’s Tanner Price – a No. 3 seed from the West – 4-2 in a very well-wrestled match. He’ll face Helena’s Josh Diaz in the quarterfinals.

Butte’s big boys had a tough first round, as 215-pound Johnny Walker fell via pin, as did heavyweights Billy Robinson and Cameron Huston.


The parade of athletes at the opening of the All-Class State Wrestling tournament Friday morning at MetraPark in Billings. (Pat Ryan photo)