Nine returning letterwinners to lead FHS wrestling

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

FHS wrestler Alex Wickens points to the Lewistown crowd after winning his semi-final match at last year’s state meet. Wickens is one of four returning place winners from last year’s state tournament.                               
Photo by Doreen Heintz

Second-year Head Coach Brendon DeCock is looking forward to a successful season on the wrestling mats. Last year, the Golden Eagles placed five athletes at the state tournament, and four of them return this year for DeCock.
“Our numbers are growing, and the kids are buying into what we are trying to accomplish, which is to bring home a trophy from the state tournament,” said DeCock. “We are still a younger team but also have experience on our side now. The kids know what our expectations are and are willing to put in the work necessary to meet these expectations.”
The four returning state placers are all juniors and include Bridger Grover, sixth at state; Caleb Birdwell, second at state; Alex Wickens, second at state; and Wyatt Blythe, second at state.
DeCock has a total of nine returning letterwinners, but only three seniors on the squad. The seniors are Bradley Denton, Billy Birdwell and Trent Parsons. This is Parsons’ first year of wrestling. Denton finished fifth at last year’s Eastern A Divisional meet. Last year was the first time the Central A and Eastern A conferences were combined for the divisional meet. The top eight wrestlers in each weight division advanced from the Eastern A to the State A Tournament.
A total of nine Golden Eagles placed at the Eastern A to advance to state. Blythe was the only Fergus wrestler to win a divisional title, but Birdwell, Wickens and Chad Landers all finished second. Landers is the only divisional and state placer to graduate last spring after a fine wrestling career.
Grover, Denton, Brady Boyce and Chase Farrar all finished fifth at the divisional meet and Talon Arndt finished eighth. Boyce and Farrar are juniors this year, while Arndt is a sophomore.
Other returning wrestlers are junior Tanner Mannin and sophomore Grady Gilpatrick.
“We also have picked up a good group of freshman,” said DeCock. “They are Chance Miller, Trevyn Nave, Duane Otto, Caleb Lewellen and Elijah Greenberg.”
If the team is able to avoid injuries and stay healthy, the Golden Eagles may be able to fill all 13 weight classes.
Havre still figures to be the class of the A competition. The Blue Ponies have won eight state championships in wrestling since 2007, and have won four consecutive Class A titles.
DeCock, who is in his second year as the head coach for the Golden Eagles, is assisted by Mike Mager.

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