Stillwagon, Renz reach semifinals

BILLINGS – Both Butte High and Butte Central preserved a shot at an individual state title after Friday’s first-day action at the Montana All-Class State Wrestling Tournament at MetraPark Arena in Billings.

Levi Renz advanced to the 145-pound Class AA semifinals for Butte High, while Butte Central’s Clay Stillwagon is a match away from the Class A 113-pound finals.

Great Falls High leads the Class AA team standings with Bozeman a distant second, Havre is atop the Class A crowd, while Colstrip holds a narrow Class B/C lead over Choteau and Forsyth.

Butte High suffered through a disheartening first day, as only four of the original 14 wrestlers are still competing. Butte Central still has two of the four they began with.

Stillwagon made it look easy, as the Maroon defending State champion spent a total of just over a minute on the mats Friday. The junior standout needed only 21 seconds to dispatch Cody Hedeen of Polson in the opening round, then saw 46 seconds tick off before his quarterfinal pin of Glendive’s Brandy Ackerman.

“Clay is just getting it done,” said Butte Central assistant coach Kevin Parvinen. “This is all business with him. The semifinals are going to be tougher and he’s going to have to be ready to spend more than 67 seconds on the mat.”

Stillwagon will face Mason Fetters of Columbia Falls in the semifinals, which are slated to begin Saturday at 9 a.m.

Parvinen said Stillwagon stayed in excellent shape during his time off nursing an injury, all while honing his wrestling skills.

“Clay’s wrestling better now than he has all year,” Parvinen continued. “He’s been fine-tuning the things he wasn’t doing as well earlier.”

Renz had a tougher road. After a second-period pin of Missoula Big Sky’s Ryan Glenn in the opening round, Renz’s quarterfinal matchup with Cooper Ryan of Helena took all six minutes. Renz got the first takedown and led 2-1 after the first period, but fell behind 4-3 after two. Renz managed an escape in the third to tie the match, then battled for a takedown with 20 seconds left on the clock to claim the 6-4 win.

Levi Renz works for position in his 145-pound Class AA semifinal match with Helena’s Cooper Ryan. Pat Ryan photo

“Levi wrestled really smart,” Butte High head coach Jim Bob Humphrey said of Renz’s match with Ryan. “There was never any panic. He wrestled through some scramble situations and he hung on and pulled it out.”

A semifinal matchup with Gage Bentley of Great Falls awaits Renz Saturday morning.

In addition to Stillwagon, Butte Central still has Zach Hart in the mix. Hart won a 3-0 decision over Gunnar Aageson of Havre, then faced Zach Grace of Libby, who earned a 31-second pin over Hart.

“Zach got caught flat-footed and out of position,” Parvinen explained. “Now he’s got to battle back and work for third. He might even get another shot at the kid who just stuck him.”

Zach Hart of Butte Central wrestles for a takedown against Livingston’s Chris Swanson in a 138-pound consolation match. Pat Ryan photo

Hart started the road back in strong fashion, downing Livingston’s Chris Swanson 7-3 in the second consolation round.

The Maroons saw Sean Cooney go 1-2 at 152 pounds, as he registered a 1:22 pin of Brayden Thom of Libby in between losses. Central also saw first-year sophomore Jake Michelotti get his first State exposure, though he lost his first two matches.

“Cooney wrestled his heart out and he tried some new things,” Parvinen said. “Jake’s done well coming out for us. Hopefully he can see a bright future ahead with us for the next couple of years.”

Butte High’s other three remaining wrestlers – 106-pound freshman Tyler Vetter, 160-pound senior Andrew Anderson and 195-pound junior Lee Cannon – will all begin action Saturday at 9 a.m. in the consolation quarterfinals.

Vetter opened his day with a 1:01 pin of Flathead’s Michael Schmeusser after falling behind 4-0 early in the match. Top-seeded Jake Hegel of Missoula Sentinel then dealt Vetter a second-period fall, though the scrappy freshman rebounded in his third match for a convincing 13-5 win over Josh Rolfe of Helena Capital.

“Vetter is just a warrior,” Humphrey said. “He’ll go to battle. I love how he fights and scratches and claws. There’s nobody in that bracket who wants to wrestle him.”

Anderson, the sixth seed from the Eastern AA, scored a first-round 8-2 win over Capital’s third-seeded Addison Boyer before falling to Great Falls’ Walker Ferda. Anderson rallied in the second consolation round for a 12-4 major decision over Missoula Sentinel’s Gabe Peppenger.

“Andrew just keeps battling,” Humphrey said of the solid senior. “I’m proud of how he hangs in there and keeps fighting, looking for that drag and staying alive.”

Cannon’s two wins were pins in the first minute, coming against Missoula Big Sky’s Jake Riekena in the first round and Great Falls’ Nate Williams in the second consolation round. His loss was at the hands of Billings Senior’s Colter Krebill, who slammed Cannon to the mat, dinging his shoulder.

“That slam kind of took the wind out of him,” Humphrey noted. “He’s a little banged up, so we’ll find out what he’s got left tomorrow.”

Butte High saw 10 wrestlers exit the tournament on the first day, though all went down fighting. Freshman 98-pounder Tyler Casey dropped a tough first-round 5-4 decision, but picked up a pin win before bowing out. Tyler Ossello rallied for a second-period pin of Capital’s Shawn Bouchard before elimination, while Ax Henningsen collected a 6-0 win over Kalispell’s Gavyn Wilson before losing his next two.

Butte High heavyweight Connor Lee rolls a wrist in his match with Helena’s Casey Tolman Friday. Pat Ryan photo

Nick Challeen registered a second-period pin of Bozeman’s Balue Chapman before bowing out, while first-year heavyweight Connor Lee also chalked up a 5-1 win over Helena’s Casey Tolman in a good Friday effort.

“You know, we’re always excited going into the state tournament,” Humphrey said. “When we come in with youth like we had this year, we have to realize that even though it’s a big moment, we have to wrestle big too.

“It’s a disappointment, but we’ll learn and grow from this.”

Butte High’s Ax Henningsen wrestles a first-round match at the 2014 State All-Class Wrestling Tournament Friday in Billings. Pat Ryan photo


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