Plains-Hot Springs grapplers 3rd at divisional meet

Feb. 7—The leaders at the top of the sports team competition are familiar to local high school sports fans: Florence-Carlton and Eureka.

They are this year's Bigfork, which thoroughly dominated Class B-C sports a year ago.

But there are some up-and-comers in the picture, many of which are loaded with talented underclassmen that bode well for the future.

And the recently concluded MHSA Western Division B-C wrestling meet is no exception.

Florence-Carlton and Eureka, which have been in the mix since the school year began in seemingly every high school sport, finished one and two respectively at this year's tournament, hosted this past Friday and Saturday by Shelby High School and the Montana High School Association.

The Falcons from Florence amassed 239 team points to capture the B-C team title, while Eureka placed second with 187.5 team points.

Third place went to Sanders County rising wrestling power Plains/Hot Springs (PHS), which compiled 166.0 points during the two-day showcase that serves as a springboard for next week's State All-Class championships in Billings' MetraPark arena.

Last year's class C champion, Superior, placed eighth among the B-C schools and Thompson Falls/Noxon finished fourteenth in the team chase.

PHS, a co-op between Plains and Hot Springs, had two individual champions during the meet. Senior Drew Carey claimed first at 138 pounds with a win by fall over teammate Beau Crabb at the 5:56 mark of their championship match. The win gave Carey a 29-3 record on the year and propelled him to a first seed from the West. Crabb, a sophomore, is now 25-12 on the year.

Fifth place at 138 pounds went to Thompson Falls' Brock Ryan, who improved his record to 25-12 with a pin over a wrestler from Shelby.

The Savage Horsemen added a second individual championship at 152 pounds when Hot Springs student John Waterbury, a junior, won a tough 6-2 decision over Nathan Gunderson of Choteau.

Superior senior Lucas Kovalsky placed third at 152 with a win by fall over his opponent from Manhattan.

Max Hannum, a 2023 state champ from Thompson Falls, was the third local wrestler to claim an individual title when he stopped Fairfield/Augusta's McCoy Banner with a 7-6 decision in their grueling bout. The win upped Hannum's season mark to 31-4, while Banner fell to 27-3. Both are seniors and expected to challenge for a state title next week in Billings.

Fifth place at 182 pounds was claimed by Gabe Rasmussen of Plains/Hot Springs, while Chase Woodson of Superior was seventh at 182.

David Chapman, fifth at 170 pounds and Brenden Vanderwall, sixth at 170 also advanced to state for the Savage Horsemen.

Plains advanced seven wrestlers to the state meet next week, the most among the three high school wrestling programs in Sanders and Mineral Counties.

Superior, which is the defending Class C team champion, advanced five grapplers to the finals. In addition to Kovalsky and Woodson, heavyweight Jaxson Green (third), 160-pound freshman Turner Milender (second), and 132-pound Micah Acker (seventh) also advanced for the Bobcats.

Joining Hannum at the state finals will be eighth grader Weston Block, who was second at 103 pounds for the Blue Hawks. Block lost by fall to Cut Bank senior Richard Schmidt at the 5:25 mark of their championship match. Block is now 23-8 on the year.

A total of 23 teams entered wrestlers in the Shelby event. A total of 236 high school wrestlers took part in the event this year.

In addition, 19 girls teams competed for individual and team titles during the meet. A total of 89 girls participated, including three from Thompson Falls/Noxon, which finished nineteenth with 10 team points.

Alayana Hockhalter was fifth at 145 pounds for the Lady Hawks, while Veronica Vega, an eighth grader, was fifth at 100 pounds. T Falls teammate Desani Bewick, a senior, placed eighth, also at 100 pounds.

Plains/Hot Springs wrestlers Drew Carey, red band on ankle, and Beau Crabb battle it out for the 138-pound individual title during the Western Division B-C wrestling championship in Shelby this past weekend. Carey placed first and Crabb took second as both advanced to the state finals next week in Billings. (Photo by Kami Milender)

Thompson Falls senior Max Hannum (top) during his championship run at 182 pounds in this past weekend's Western Division wrestling championships in Shelby. (Photo by Kami Milender)

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