Fergus wrestlers have strong showing at Rocky Mountain Invitational

Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

Birdwell, Wickens win championships
The Golden Eagles had their best showing in several years at the Jug Beck Rocky Montana Invitational in Missoula on Friday and Saturday.
“We wrestled very well,” said Fergus Coach Brendon DeCock. “I was impressed how well we did as a team at that tournament.”
The Golden Eagles finished in eighth place among the 32 teams competing at the two-day meet. In addition, Cooper Birdwell and Alex Wickens captured championships in their weight classes, while Wyatt Blythe finished second in his weight class.
“Our boys competed and scrapped all weekend,” said DeCock. “Their effort right now is amazing, and we need to keep it rolling for another month. All I ever ask out of our kids is them to give me everything they got, and I got that out of them this weekend.”
The tournament, which included teams from five states, was won by Class AA Bozeman with 238 points. Class A powerhouse Havre finished second with 200 points. Finishing in third was Mead High School with 190 points. Other team scores include Flathead Kalispell in fourth with 182.5, University High in fifth with 168, Missoula Sentinel in sixth with 136.5 and Great Falls High in seventh with 130.5 points. Fergus had 111.5 points to finish eighth. Right behind the Golden Eagles was Polson with 109 points.
“We put four kids into the semifinals on Friday and then pushed three to the finals,” added DeCock. “Chase (Farrar) was our other wrestler to get into the semifinals. After losing his semi-final match, Chase came back to win his consolation semi-final match. He lost the match to determine third and fourth place.”
Farrar, wrestling at 152 pounds, lost a major decision, 1-13, against Cameron Crawford from Mead.
Birdwell defeated Bozeman’s Jaiden James by an 11-2 major decision in the 113-pound weight class.
In the most intense match of the tournament, Wickens scored an ultimate tie breaker, 5-3, in an overtime match against Kalispell Flathead’s Payton Hume.
According to a story on Montana Sports.com, Hume was called for stalling with one second remaining in the second period. That 1 point gave Wickens a 1-0 lead heading into the final period. During the third period, Hume scored 2 points to take a 2-1 lead, but Wickens came right back with a reversal to go up, 3-2.
After Hume was awarded a point for an escape when the Flathead coaches appealed the initial decision by the referee for no escape, the two wrestlers were tied, 3-3.
In the sudden-death overtime, it looked like Hume had the win on a takedown, but the Fergus coaches appealed the points, stating the wrestlers were both out of bounds. The referees then ruled the wrestlers were out-of bounds. With the score still tied, Wickens secured a 2-point near-fall to gain the win, 5-3.
According to DeCock, Brady Boyce ended up eighth at 2015 pounds.
“Duane Otto lost a hard-fought match to get into the placings,” added DeCock.
At 182 pounds, Blythe came up short in his championship match. He was defeated by Flathead’s Tucker Nadeau by an 8-3 decision. Nadeau is the number one ranked wrestler at 182 pounds in Class AA.

Fergus welcomes rest of Class A to dual matches
“This weekend will be fun,” said DeCock about the upcoming dual matches at the Fergus High School Fieldhouse on Friday and Saturday.
All 22 Class A teams are scheduled to compete at the duals.
“I am looking forward to having our full starting line-up for the first time this season,” DeCock said. “We will have Caleb (Birdwell) back from surgery on his knee. Wyatt Mager will be back after sitting out all year from a concussion. We will have Trevyn (Nave) back. He only has two matches for the year so far. It’s going to be nice to put our best lineup out there. Duals are always fun for the kids and the fans.”
Fergus wrestles its first dual match at 11 a.m. on Friday against Corvallis. At 1 p.m., Fergus goes up against Columbia Falls, followed by a 3 p.m. match against Miles City. At 5 p.m. the Golden Eagles wrestle the Locomotives from Laurel. In their final match of the day, the Eagles face Libby at 7 p.m.
The top two finishers in each of the four pools (eight teams) will advance to the championship round on Saturday. The third- and fourth-place teams (also eight teams) will be placed in a consolation round. Saturday’s matches begin at 9 a.m.
Because this is the first opportunity the Golden Eagles have had to wrestle on their home mats, FHS fans are urged to come and cheer the Eagles on to victory.



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