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Crosstown mat battles are set

Jan. 18—It wasn't on purpose that this year's Crosstown wrestling duals have a little extra build-up: Blame Montana weather, with last week's blizzard wiping out, among other events, the Rocky Mountain Invitational in Missoula.

"There was a lot of excitement for the Rocky," Flathead wrestling coach Jeff Thompson noted. "And with that being canceled, there was a lot of pacing around the mat all weekend."

Thompson's Brave Brawlers and Ross Dankers' Glacier Wolfpack will battle on Glacier's home mat tonight, starting with the boys' dual at 5:30. The girls dual will begin at roughly 7 p.m.

The event generally packs the gym, and might take more than several inches of snow to keep people away. And while Flathead's boys come in with a 65-dual win streak, including a 14-0 record this season, there are some interesting individual matches on tap.

"I think there's a couple, or a handful of solid matchups," Dankers said. "I think at 103 pounds it would be fun to see Aiden Sweat and (Flathead's) Kellen Downing wrestle.

"I'm also excited to see Nico Coles against (Flathead's) Lane Shivers at 152. Nico brings kind of a different style to his matches. It will be fun to see him on the mat with one of the better guys around."

Coles just entered the lineup after a lack of practices kept him out prior to the holidays. He made his debut at the Pacific Northwest Classic in Spokane on Jan. 5, finishing third at 150.

Shivers, meanwhile, is ranked third in AA at 152 pounds.

Both coaches are looking forward to the matchup at 145 between Kaleb Shine of Glacier and Dane Lake of Flathead. Shine began the season at 152 and moved down, where he's ranked No. 3 to Lake's No. 2.

"That should be a great matchup between two guys who have put in a lot of time on the mat and wrestle all year around," Thompson said.

At 170 Glacier has the third-ranked wrestler in Mark Ahner; meanwhile Gunnar Thompson is back at 182 (ranked third) and Anders Thompson (31-0 at 205) and Sawyer Troupe (29-0 at heavyweight) are unbeaten. Based on individual rankings, Flathead has taken over the spot in the latest AA wrestling poll.

"The thing about Flathead is they're so balanced," Dankers said. "Tough guys from top to bottom, and with some real stars like Anders and Troupe. It's going to be a real tough dual, but there should be some nice matchups."

There should be some good ones in the girls dual; it is notable that Glacier holds a No. 7 ranking and Flathead is outside the top 10.

Dankers really likes his team in the lower weights, while noting that Flathead has the depth up top. Brook Yeadon is No. 3 at 107, and defending state champion Kaura Coles is No. 1 at 120. Coles will face the No. 2 wrestler, Flathead's Bella Downing, on Thursday.

"She's pretty danged lights-out," Dankers said of Coles. "We're finally kind of taking shape here. We do have a solid lower lineup."

Flathead's Lucile Libby is ranked fourth at 235.

In all, it should be another entertaining evening; a rare opportunity for local wrestling fans to see both teams.

"For a lot of people in the Flathead Valley, this is the one time they can get out and see us," Thompson said. "We want to put on a show, go out and wrestle hard for six minutes and let it fly."