Billings-bound: Cowboys send 10 wrestlers to state

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STAR STAFF

Ten Custer County District High School wrestlers, led by freshman Damian Leidholt, will compete in the State Class A wrestling tournament this week in Billings.

The Cowboys took 15 wrestlers to the Eastern A Divisional on Saturday in Belgrade and all but five advanced.

Leidholt was the lone individual champion, going 3-0 at 120 pounds to continue his outstanding season. He received a bye before pinning Tanner Mannin of Fergus in 1:59, then earning a 2-0 decision over highly touted Kade Graves of Sidney and taking the title with a  hard-fought 2-1 decision over Havre’s Ryan Stewart.

“Damian had a great tourney,” CCDHS coach Mike Etchemendy said. “He won a couple of big matches against Graves and Stewart. They were close matches and he just found a way.”

Etchemendy has praised the work of his team all season.

“We qualified 10 for state and I’m happy with that number, but our guys worked hard and we should be taking 15,” he said.

Braxton Scheeler finished fourth at 113 pounds, winning his first two matches before falling in the semifinals. In the consolation matches he won and then lost in the third-place match.

The top eight in each weight class from both the Western and Eastern divisionals qualified for state.

That would also include CCDHS wrestlers Bryce Hirsch, who placed eighth at 120, going 1-3, and joins his teammate (Leidholt) in Billings; Brenan Hager, seventh at 126 with a 2-2 record; Jackson Dalton, seventh at 132 with a 1-2 record and two byes; Kaid Campbell, sixth at 138 at 1-3; Kon Speelmon, seventh at 152, going 3-2; Colton Derenburger, eighth at 170 with a 1-3 mark that included a win by pin over teammate Trey McAvoy; Tyler Harms, sixth at 205 with a 1-3 record, and Archie Swift, fifth at 285 with a 3-2 record.

Not advancing from the Divisional were Trey McAvoy (170), Joel Raisler (160), Nate McAvoy (145), Dylan Gibson (285) and Jake Murnion (126).

The Cowboys didn’t enter a wrestler in two weight classes — 103 and 182.

Etchemendy is hopeful of a good showing in Billings on Friday and Saturday.

“This has been a successful season and now we need to finish strong,” he said. “We have one week left. This is their time. It’s their moment.”

Defending state champion Sidney/Fairview, which won the Cowboy Invitational in Miles City last month, took the Divisional team title by a wide margin, totaling 328 poInts to runner-up Havre’s 244. Then came Fergus (Lewistown) with 231, followed by Hardin at 155, and Dawson County (Glendive) with 142.

The final five included Belgrade at 100, CCDHS at 88.5, Laurel at 67.5, Billings Central at 65 and Park (Livingston) at 40.

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