The Libby High School wrestling team went on from a set of team wins at the Whitefish duals Jan. 25 to qualify all eight Greenchain wrestlers who competed at the Western A Divisional Tournament, with multiple wrestlers placing second in their weight classes and junior Trey Thompson taking first place in the 145 pound weight class.
Placing 2nd at the tournament were senior Buddy Doolin at 120 pounds, junior Jeff Offenbecher at 138 pounds, sophomore Zack Morrison at 132 pounds and freshman Hunter Hoover at 152 pounds.
Libby Head Coach Kelly Morford was more than pleased by how well his wrestlers performed in Butte.
“We got all eight qualified and five in the finals, so it went about as well as we could have hoped for. The semifinal round was about as fun as it could get, as we went 5-5 and won a bunch of close matches against good opponents,” he said.
After starting the year with a short roster that has caused them team losses all season, Morford said that the performance the Greenchain put on at the Divisional Tournament was probably the best they have had in “quite some time.”
Morford said that Doolin is set for another run into the finals at the State Tournament in Billings Friday, and Morford is hoping for a rematch against Frenchtown’s Jake Bibler, who won the first place match by an 8-6 decision over Doolin at Divisional.
“That Bibler kid is a super wrestler, but Buddy closed the gap on him in the finals and gained a little confidence against him. Hopefully we will see him again at State and have another shot,” he said.
Thompson, who has been excelling throughout the season, had the Loggers’ only first place finish at Divisional.
“Trey had a great weekend. His finals match was probably the biggest match of the weekend for us, as it was really important for how it would set him up at State,” Morford said.
Thompson got taken down in the first period of the first place match, but stayed calm and worked his way back into the match, he said. “He has come a long way mentally in that regard this season, and it was exciting as a coach to see how excited he was to see that growth in himself. Trey just really stays solid and plugs away out there, and I think he can make a deep run at the State tournament this weekend.”
Morrison had a good semifinal round, beating Hamilton’s Adrian Garcia in sudden victory.
“It was a huge character builder for him to be able to stick with the game plan in a tight match and come out with the win,” Morford said. “He blew the kid up with an explosive takedown in overtime, which was a testament to his hard work in practice.”
Offenbecher, who came late into the season around Christmas, has been making up for lost time at matches since.
“Jeff was another that had a great win in the semis. He kept the pressure on and was eventually able to get a takedown in the third period to put the match away,” Morford said. “We have been really focused on training for those situations this season, so it was great to see Jeff win that way.”
Morford said that the athletic Offenbecher has the potential to roll with anyone at state if he just believes in his ability.
Hoover, who only took up wrestling in the past year, is expected to gain some points for the Greenchain at the state tournament, Morford said. Watching the way he carries himself and competes, it’s easy to forget Hoover is a freshman.
“Hunter dominated his way into the championship round and he is really dialed in right now. You can see it in his eyes that he is focused and ready to compete every time he steps on the mat,” he said.
Sophomore Tucker Masters came away from what Morford said were a series of tough matches with fifth place at 160 pounds.
“He dropped a few matches he wishes he could have back, but he also beat some quality guys as well. Looking at the bracket, it seems like he will get another shot at some of those guys,” Morford said. Those would be rematches Masters is very capable of winning, and he has the potential to reach the placing rounds at the State Tournament.
Freshmen Zane Nordwick and senior Daniel Rigney accomplished what they came to the Divisional Tournament to do, Morford said.
“I was super excited for them to earn their way into State, and as a team it was awesome to be able to qualify everyone we took to Divisional,” Morford said. “I am super proud of these two, as they got some wins and put some team points up on the board for us. Hopefully they can replicate that again this weekend.”
With the State Tournament only days away, the Loggers are going to use the time between to hone their skills and keep in fighting shape, Morford said.
“The boys really set themselves up well with good seeds and gained some confidence this weekend. We are going to need to be ready, but I really think we are set up for a great State Tournament,” he said.
Friday, Jan. 25
Libby 33, Browning 33
120: Buddy Doolin, L, won by pin in 1:56 over Ashton Flamond, B; 132: Zack Morrison, L, won by pin in 1:36 over Jeffrey Mad Man, B; 138: Jeff Offenbecher, L, won by pin in 3:34 over Brennan Running Crane, B; 145: Trey Thompson, L, won by pin in 3:24 over Chance Kittson, B; 152: Zane Nordwick, L, won by forfeit; 160: Ryan Kipp, B, won by 5-1 dec. over Hunter Hoover, L; 170: Tucker Masters, L, won by 7-5 dec. over Ryan Running Crane, B.
Polson 48, Libby 24
120: Buddy Doolin, L, won by pin in 1:24 over Kedrick Baker, P; 126: 132: Zack Morrison, L, won by pin in 1:09 over Jarod Farrier, P; 138: Jeff Offenbecher, L, won by pin in 1:27 over Dugan Davis, P; 145: Trey Thompson, L, won by 7-0 dec. over Caleb Pierre, P; 152: Bridger Wenzel, P, won by pin in 0:58 over Hunter Hoover, L; 160: Tucker Masters, L, won by 8-6 dec. over Kaleb Unger, P.
Saturday, Feb. 2
2019 MHSA Western A Divisional
120: Buddy Doolin (37-11, 2nd place): Championship round 1 - Doolin received a bye; Quarterfinal - Doolin won by pin in 2:56 over Ashton Flamand, Browning; Semifinal - Doolin won by major dec. (12-3) over Kedrick Baker, Polson; 1st place match - Jake Bibler, Frenchtown, won by 9-2 dec. over Doolin.
132: Zack Morrison (40-12, 2nd place): Championship round 1 - Morrison received a bye; Quarterfinal - Morrison won by pin in 1:33 over Carter Brown, Corvallis; Semifinal - Morrison won in sudden victory (SV-1, 4-2) over Adrian Garcia, Hamilton; 1st place match - Michael Golden, Hamilton, won by pin in 0:37 over Morrison.
138: Jeff Offenbecher (26-9, 2nd place): Championship round 1 - Offenbecher won by pin in 1:18 over Joe Doane, Hamilton; Quarterfinal - Offenbecher won by pin in 1:05 over Aaron Springer, Stevensville; Semifinal - Offenbecher won by 4-1 dec. over Triston Davis, Corvallis; 1st place match - Dakota Flannery, Whitefish, won by pin in 5:56 over Offenbecher.
145: Trey Thompson (45-7, 1st place): Championship round 1 - Thompson received a bye; Quarterfinal - Thompson won by pin in 1:25 over Carlitos Bertelsen, Whitefish; Semifinal - Thompson won by pin in 3:08 over Chance Kittson, Browning; 1st place match - Thompson won by pin in 3:24 over Bridger Williams, Hamilton.
152: Zane Nordwick (17-24, 7th place): Quarterfinal - Derrik Gasvoda, Corvallis, won by pin in 1:18 over Nordwick; Consolation round 1 - Tristin Lowell, Dillon, won by pin in 4:42 over Nordwick; 7th place match - Nordwick won by 12-7 dec. over Lawrence Birdrattler, Browning.
152: Hunter Hoover (25-12, 2nd place): Quarterfinal - Hoover won by pin in 3:19 over Adam Vang, Frenchtown; Semifinal - Hoover won by pin in 3:59 over Camren Ross, Whitefish; 1st place match - Bridger Wenzel, Polson, won by pin in 1:49 over Hoover 25-12.
160: Tucker Masters (36-17, 5th place): Championship round 1 - Masters won by pin in 1:07 over Holtzen, Corvallis; Quarterfinal - Noah Hurst, Hamilton, won by major dec. (13-3) over Masters; Consolation round 2 - Masters won by pin in 1:32 over Dylan Janes, Stevensville; Consolation round 3 - Masters won by pin in 3:50 over Garrett Croft, Polson; Consolation semi - Ryan Kipp, Browning, won by major dec. (11-2) over Masters 36-17; 5th place match - Masters won by injury default over Robert Bertelsen, Whitefish.
182: Daniel Rigney (15-26, 7th place): Championship round 1 - Rigney won by pin in 2:35 over Cadagen Wheat, Hamilton; Quarterfinal - Tate Jones, Frenchtown, won by pin in 0:50 over Rigney; Consolation round 2 - Rigney won by pin in 1:20 over Aidan VanOstrand, Stevensville; Consolation round 3 - DJ Laycock, Columbia Falls, won by major dec. (10-2) over Rigney; 7th place match - Rigney won by major dec. (12-3) over Jesse LittleBoy, Ronan.