Five Montana wrestlers into quarterfinals at NHSCA High School Nationals

Lewistown’s Cooper Birdwell won the 2018 Class A 113-pound wrestling championship. (RICHIE MELBY/MTN Sports)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Eleven Montanans took to the wrestling mats in Virginia on Friday afternoon and five of those will be in the quarterfinal round of the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) national wrestling tournament.

Michael Weber, who joined Montana’s four-time state champion club in February by defeating Shelby’s Wyatt Brusven, 14-6, in the 152-pound Class B/C championship, will face Zack Lawrence of New York in the quarters of the 152-pound senior bracket after winning three matches on Friday. Weber defeated Elijah Martin (NC) in the Round of 64 by 5-2 decision, then beat Minnesota’s Devin Dean by major decision, 11-1. In the Round of 16, Weber defeated Virginia’s Giuseppi Inserra by major decision, 8-0.

Belgrade’s John Mears, who wrestled at 152 pounds during his high school season in Montana, defeating Polson’s Bridger Wenzel 5-0 in the Class A championship match, will be in the quarters of the 138-pound junior bracket. Mears was dominant early on Friday, winning 11-2 in the Round of 128, by tech fall in the Round of 64 and by fall in the Round of 32. Mears won an 11-9 decision over Aaden Valdez of Colorado to advance to the quarterfinals, where he will meet William Mcdougald of New York.

Another Montana state champion, Lewistown’s Cooper Birdwell, will be in the quarterfinals of the 126-pound sophomore bracket. Birdwell, who won his second Montana state wrestling title with a pin of Belgrade’s Oden Currier in the 126-pound championship in February, will face River Wardle of Utah. Birdwell picked up four wins on Friday to advance, starting the day in the Round of 128 with a tech fall win over New Hampshire’s Nathan Peabody. Birdwell squeaked out a 4-3 win over Kaleb Burgess in the Round of 64 before cruising to victories in the next two rounds.

Billings Senior’s Idren Peak will also be in the quarterfinals, as Peak picked up four wins on Friday in the 126-pound freshman bracket. Peak picked up pins in the Round of 64 and Round of 32 to sandwich between his wins by decision in the Round of 128 and Round of 16. Peak will face M.J. Gaitan of California in the quarters.

Another Billings Senior wrestler will be joining Peak in the quarterfinals, as Peyton Morton won a pair of matches in the 170-pound freshman bracket to advance. Morton won both of his matches by pinfall to move on.

Columbus brothers Tanner and Cooper Cook, Billings West’s R.J. Lowdog, and Billings Senior’s Matthew Dewitt all lost in the Round of 32 in their respective division, setting up consolation Round of 32 matches with opponents yet to be determined. Billings West’s Levi Malcolm will be in the consolation Round of 16 after winning a pair of matches in the heavyweight senior division before losing a 1-0 decision in the Round of 16. Senior’s Jahzriel Peak lost in the 145-pound senior bracket Round of 64 to Virginia’s Cole Stoddard. In the consolation round, Brandon Smith of Maryland defeated Peak by default.

Wrestling continues Saturday and Sunday from inside Virginia Beach Convention Center. Fans will be able to stream the NHSCA High School Nationals at www.flowrestling.org.

Alec Bofinger

Alec Bofinger

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