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Grapplers tuned up for divisional tournament

| January 31, 2024 2:00 AM

The Mat Cats had a mixed week of matches before heading into divisionals this weekend. The boys had a 33-39 loss to Libby on Tuesday and 27-40 to Ronan Thursday. In the Whitefish Duals Friday, each wrestler got an extra practice match or two. 

The Columbia Falls boys won most of their matches over Ronan, with forfeits running up the Chiefs’ score by 18 points. Coach Jessie Schaeffer said a similar situation happened in Libby, “It’s just hard to go in there and try to win a dual when you give up 24 points,” he said. But overall, Schaeffer said the wrestlers are making a good effort on the mat and this week has been solid practice. Some wrestlers are still working on weight management, and some need to keep up their stamina for a solid six minutes. 

The highlight of the week for Schaeffer was Rowdy Crump (182) defeating Ronan’s Tristan Fisher. The pair have been head to head all season, and Crump was able to capitalize on an important moment at the end and seal the deal this round. Schaeffer was impressed with Crump’s patience and control, something the junior has been working on. 

As for divisionals, “It’s hard to say,” Schaeffer said. He hoped his wrestlers had put in enough time on the mat — and they have been — to be successful.

On the girls’ side, seven placed at the Mission Mountain Classic in St. Ignatius on Saturday. Jaici Watt-Duran (146) took second place with 18 points, Samantha Larsen (152) second with 18 points, Jaelynn Nace (100) third with 12 team points, Ella Timlick (138) third with 16 points, Vanessa Nace (100) fourth with 4 points, Shelby Norman (114) placed fifth with 17 points and Seirra Born (120) placed sixth with 7 points. 

The girls also got some more practice in Whitefish Friday. 

Coach Ben Schaeffer said that this late in the season, each wrestler has seen 30-40 matches, which is taxing on the body. As the team faces divisionals and state, he noted that everyone was starting out 0-0, and he hoped they would be on the same level as other Class A teams. 

“I honestly think we’ll be pretty successful,” Ben Schaeffer said. 

Divisionals will take place in Hamilton Friday and Saturday, Feb. 2-3, then on to state in Billings Feb. 8-10. 

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