Cowboy invite attracts top wrestlers from 3 states

Twenty-nine teams from all sizes of schools across Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming. Thirty-two man brackets across 13 weight classes. Five returning champs, four Montana state champs, and 19 wrestlers ranked number one in their weight classes.

The 59th annual Cowboy Invitational will be held today and Saturday and it’s shaping up to be a weekend of top-notch wrestling from outstanding young athletes right in Miles City’s own Custer County District High School gym. 

The Cowboy Invitational also brings wrestlers’ parents, siblings, coaching staff, managers, and fans to fill local hotels and restaurants and provides a mid-winter boost to Miles City’s economy, as well as giving area sports enthusiasts another reason to support athletics at CCDHS. 

Returning to the big mats are veteran Custer County Cowboys Kon Speelmon, a 145-pound junior, and sophomore Liam Pauley at 138. Invitational first-timers include freshman Braxton Scheeler (103), Jake Murnion (120), Kaid Campbell (132), and Tyler Harms (182). Sophomore McKinsey Jerrel (160) and juniors Joel Raisler (152) and Colton Derenburger (160) are also grappling for the first time at the Invitational. 

The Cowboys’ Eastern A rival Sidney will be wrestling Christian Dean, a 120-pounder and 2016 state champ who has won 75 percent of his matches this year. 

2016 Cowboy Invite team champion Colstrip returns with state champs Clayton Currier, a 138-pound senior, and his brother, Jackson Currier, a sophomore wrestling at 126. Colstrip also brings the distinction of the 2016 State Class A Team Championship. 

Class AA Billings Senior (2016 State Class AA Team Champs) junior 120-pounder Charlie Klepps will come into the tourney undefeated, as will 2016 Cowboy Invite first-placer Jake Malchuski from AA Billings Skyview. Klepps is a two-time defending state champion. 

Kyle Burwick, a sophomore at 120 from Hettinger/Scranton (ND) is a returning Invite champ and is ranked number one in his North Dakota Class B weight. And,  138-pounder Mason Schulz of Bismarck Century (ND), returns as Invite Champ. He  is ranked number one in his North Dakota Class A weightclass. 

From Wyoming there will be seven wrestlers ranked at number one in their weight classes, including 2016 Cowboy Invite champ Hayden Hastings (170) of Sheridan. 

Admission for the Invitational, which began at 9 a.m. Friday, is $18 for an adult all-session pass and $12 for a student all-session. Single-day tickets cost $10 for adults and $6 for students on Friday, and $8 for adults and $6 for students on Saturday.

Volunteers at the tournament include Miles City’s AAU wrestling parents and athletes, who will hold their own tournament at CCDHS on Sunday, Jan. 15. 

Fifth- and seventh-place matches should begin at noon on Saturday with the finals  and third-place matches slated for 2 p.m.