After the Libby High School wrestling team had a team win against Whitefish Tuesdaya as well as a strong showing at the Rocky Mountain Classic and John Fisher over the weekend, their coach likes the direction he sees them going.
“I just feel like we are right on the verge of having a great push to the end of the season,” said Libby Head Coach Kelly Morford after the weekend.
“We haven’t wrestled our best yet, and we have some simple things to clean up, but we are right there. I am excited to see how the Class A Duals go this weekend. It will be a real good test for us, and there will be no question as to where we stand afterward,” he said.
Morford said he felt the team wrestled tough and looked good at the Rocky Mountain, beating, “just about everyone we wrestled on our feet.”
“We made a bunch of silly mistakes that ended up costing us some matches, but those are easy fixes in the grand scheme of things. I really like the direction that we are trending at this point,” he said.
Junior Trey Thompson had what was probably the best tournament of his career, Morford said. His match against Luke Joy of Missoula Sentinel showed his ability to overcome an opponent who had bested him earlier in the year.
“As a coach, that is probably the most rewarding type of win, as it gives your wrestler validation that their hard work is paying off,” he said.
Thompson followed with a win against Hamilton’s Bridger Williams, who is ranked ahead of him, Morford said.
“It was actually the second time he beat the kid, but it is always good to show that the first wasn’t a fluke. If Trey can keep this up, he is going to end the season very strong,” Morford said.
Returning State Champion senior Buddy Doolin had what Morford said was probably his best day of the year at the Rocky Mountain as well. His wins included a wrestler he will likely need to beat again in order to get back into the finals at State this year.
“It feels like Buddy is in his best place physically and mentally right now, and he is primed for a big run at the end of the year,” he said.
The team overall wrestled tough on the weekend, Morford said.
“We are seeing major strides out of guys like (sophomore) Tucker Masters. His effort and attitude out there has really improved and that has really helped him. He won his bracket at the John Fisher Saturday along with (sophomore) Zack Morrison and (freshman) Hunter Hoover, so the team had a good day over there,” he said.
On senior night at home Tuesday, the Greenchain pulled off a 33-33 tie with Whitefish despite multiple weight class forfeits, taking the win by tie-breaker since they won the majority of matches wrestled.
Morford was as pleased as senior Daniel Rigney with Rigney’s match, which he won with a pin just a little more than a minute in. Rigney left the mat wearing a grin, and Morford was still smiling several minutes later.
“We needed a pin to tie it up at the end, and he answered the call. That was a great moment for him and for our team, so I was real excited for him,” Morford said.
One match that didn’t end in a win but was a tough contest to the end was senior Jeff Offenbecher’s 3-2 loss by decision to the Bulldogs’ Dakota Flannery.
Offenbecher beat Flannery at State last year, and will have to beat him again this year if he wants to get on the podium, Morford said.
There were some missed opportunities in the match where Morford said he thinks Offenbecher could have gotten a takedown. “If he has confidence in his offense like he should, he’s a good enough athlete that he can take those guys down. He just needs to get more aggressive on his feet.”
On Tuesday, Morford said he still thinks the Loggers haven’t wrestled their best yet, but that he sees that day coming.
“We have a lot of room to wrestle better, which is a good thing,” he said. “I feel like we’re right there on the verge of really breaking out.”
The Greenchain will wrestle at the Class A Duals today and Saturday. Their next dual is at Bonners Ferry on Tuesday, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Rocky Mountain Classic
Friday, Jan. 11
120: Buddy Doolin (20-8, 6th): Champ. Round 1 - Doolin won by pin in 1:00 over Deegan Martin, Hamilton; Champ. Round 2 - Doolin won by tech. Fall (18-3) over Jimmy Schmitt, Corvallis; Quarterfinal - Doolin won by 13-7 dec. over Cameron Pleninger, Havre; Semifinal - Jake Bibler, Frenchtown, won by pin in 0:42 over Doolin; Consolation Semi - Carson DesRosier, Helena Capital, won by 6-0 dec. over Doolin; Fifth place match - Cameron Pleninger, Havre, won by 9-3 dec. over Doolin.
132: Zack Morrison (22-10): Champ. Round 1 - Morrison received a bye; Champ. Round 2 - Chase Tebbets, Mead, won by pin in 1:10 over Morrison; Consolation Round 2 - Hayden Azure, Great Falls, won by pin in 4:36 over Morrison.
138: Jeff Offenbecher (9-4): Champ. Round 1 - Offenbecher received a bye; Champ. Round 2 - Reese Karst, Powell, won by pin in 1:04 over Offenbecher; Consolation Round 2 - Offenbecher won by pin in 2:59 over Dale Kent, Butte; Consolation Round 3 - Anthony Urbancic, Ferris, won by 15-11 dec. over Offenbecher.
145: Trey Thompson (31-5, 5th place): Champ. Round 1 - Thompson won by pin in 1:39 over Caleb Pierre, Polson; Champ. Round 2 - Thompson won by pin in 1:18 over Tyler Reighard, Mead; Quarterfinal - Kai Stewart, Great Falls CMR, won by 7-0 dec. over Thompson; Consolation Round 4 - Thompson won by major dec. (13-0) over Skylar Richardson, Spokane; Consolation Round 5 - Thompson won by 5-2 dec. over Luke Joy, Missoula Sentinel; Consolation Semi - Hunter Meinzen, Missoula Big Sky/Loyola, won by major dec. (12-1) over Thompson; Fifth place match - Thompson won by 5-2 dec. over Bridger Williams, Hamilton.
152: Cody Crace (19-9): Champ. Round 1 - Crace received a bye; Champ. Round 2 - Connor Harris, Havre, won by pin in 0:18 over Crace; Consolation Round 2 - JT Connors, Mead, won by pin in 1:39 over Cody Crace.
160: Tucker Masters (19-11): Champ. Round 1 - Masters won by pin in 2:47 over William Sliger, Clarkston; Champ. Round 2 - Chris Homen, Ferris, won by 6-4 dec. over Masters; Consolation Round 2 - Masters won by pin in 3:11 over Garrett Croft, Polson; Consolation Round 3 - Bailey Hawk, Missoula Sentinel, won by 11-4 dec. over Masters
Saturday, Jan. 12
132: Zack Morrison (1st place): Quarterfinal - Morrison won by maj. Dec. (10-2) over Trevin Smith, Great Falls; Semifinal - Morrison won by pin in 0:57 over Dakota Logudice, Glacier; First place match - Morrison won by 6-1 dec. over Dominic Battello, Flathead.
138: Jeff Offenbecher( 2nd place): Quarterfinal - Offenbecher won by pin in 2:13 over Ira Williams, Missoula Sentinel; Semifinal - Offenbecher won by pin in 2:17 over Kael Willis, Glacier; First place match - Isaac Skillicorn, Missoula Big Sky/Loyola, won by pin in 1:50 over Offenbecher.
145: Elijah Edwards (4th place): Quarterfinal - Edwards won by pin in 3:52 over Jeff Devlin, Polson; Semifinal - Laird Rhodes, Missoula Sentinel, won by pin in 2:22 over Edwards; Third place match - Royce Conklin, Glacier, won by pin in 2:37 over Edwards.
152: Hunter Hoover (1st place): Quarterfinal - Hoover won by pin in 1:00 over Jaylen Somma, Missoula Hellgate; Semifinal - Hoover won by 10-7 dec. over Blake Tellinghusen, University; First place match - Hoover won by pin in 3:24 over Derrik Weisweaver, Corvallis.
152: Zane Nordwick (4th place): Quarterfinal - Zane Nordwick won by pin in 1:47 over Shekinah Talamantez, Nampa; Semifinal - Jhase Monroe, Browning, won by pin in 0:19 over Nordwick; Third place match - Caden Willis, Glacier, won by tech. Fall (19-4) over Nordwick.
160: Tucker Masters (1st place) Quarterfinal - Masters won by pin in 2:28 over Rory McLaverty, Missoula Sentinel; Semifinal - Masters won by 3-1 dec. over Garrett Croft, Polson; First place match - Masters won by 7-2 dec. over Joshua Leach, Nampa
Tuesday, Jan. 15
Libby 33, Whitefish 33
(Tie-break to Libby by matches won)
120: Buddy Doolin, L, won by pin in 4:36 over Dean Kellogg, W;
132: Zack Morrison, L, won by pin in 1:03 over Sidney Cooke, W;
138: Dakota Flannery, W, won by 3-2 dec. over Jeff Offenbecher, L;
145: Trey Thompson, L, won by pin in 1:00 over Carlitos Bertelsen, W;
152: Hunter Hoover, L, won by 2-1 dec. over Camren Ross, W;
160: Robert Bertelsen, W, won by pin in 1:15 over Cody Crace, L;
170: Tucker Masters, L, won by forfeit;
205: Daniel Rigney, L, won by pin in 1:18 over Ashton Akey, W