Beaver wrestlers picking up steam

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Beaver wrestlers picking up steam

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Dillon senior Peter Gibson, returning to action after recovering from a broken bone in his leg during football season, looked good in posting a 1-1 record Thursday night. In the photo above, Gibson scored an escape on Frenchtown’s Peter Hicks. Gibson eventually pinned Hicks. J.P. Plutt photo

If you are a fan of the dual match format, with the traditional face-off before the wrestling and one match at a time under a spotlight, Dillon Beaver wrestling has delivered a flashback to the days before waterfall schedules and mixers with multiple teams on multiple mats.

Last Thursday, the Beavers entertained two of Class A wrestling’s top teams and showcased the sport in the dual match format. Frenchtown, ranked second in the latest coaches poll, topped #4 Polson in the opener, 40-33. Dillon then faced and competed with Polson and then Frenchtown in a pair of duals that though they lost, they looked vastly improved over their efforts from early in the season.

“They were very competitive matches,” said Dillon coach T.J. Nelson, an NAIA Coaches Hall of Fame member. “We gave up 12 points each match (on forfeits), but we are getting better and I feel good about that.”

The Beavers fell to Polson, 43-30 and then to Frenchtown, 42-30. Earlier in the week, Dillon traveled to AA Belgrade and fell to the Panthers, 42-28.

Dillon senior Cooper Hoffman, the team’s most skilled and successful wrestler, cruised to easy wins in all three of his matches, jumping out to big leads quickly, before ending the matches with first round pins.

“Cooper is wrestling on a high level now,” said Nelson. The thing about kids who are wrestling really well is that he makes it look easy. I’m sure those kids are better than he made them look.

“I think he’s starting to have fun out there. He’s not worried about winning or losing, but he’s focused on wrestling well. He’s fun to watch.”

Noah Huffaker, a sophomore at 120-pounds, advanced to the finals a year and placed second at state. He’s up from 103-pounds in a very competitive weight and the season so far has had some bumps in the road. Thursday may have been a turning point as he pinned two-time state champion Walker Dyer of Frenchtown.

“It was a great match with a lot of action,” said Nelson. “Both kids really went at it, that’s the thing I was most proud of. Noah went out there like he was going to win the match and he took over the lead and turned him and pinned him.”

Nelson noted that it was about this time last year that Huffaker began to assert himself as a champion, and he believes that match could be the one that propels Huffaker to a strong season finish.

Pete Gibson, a senior at 152-pounds, made his season debut last week after recovering from a broken bone in his leg injured during the fall football playoffs. While he has to get in mat shape, Gibson looked sound on the mats Thursday.

“He’s got the ability and he’s been a lot more aggressive this year,” said Nelson. “I’m really pleased with Pete’s attitude and how hard he’s worked to get back from his leg injury.”

Gibson led Polson’s Caleb Pierre, 4-2 in the second round, when Pierre caught and pinned Gibson. Versus Dalton Hicks of Frenchtown, the wrestlers were tied 13-13 when Gibson secured a pin.

Parker Smith is light for the 103-pound class and is coming off dislocated knee caps in both legs, but he looked solid in a 1-1 night on Thursday. Smith pinned Polson’s Brandon Duff and then fell to Frenchtown’s Landon Stewart, the state’s top-ranked Class A wrestler at 103.

Senior Preston Hales struggled early in the season with conditioning, but has found his wind and improves each time out.

“Preston just needed mat time,” explained Nelson. “He left off last season being a fairly technical wrestler for an upper weight, and he’s gotten a lot stronger the year to add to that. Now that he’s getting into mat shape, he’s really starting to go in the right direction. He’s going to be ready for divisional.”

“I do think this team is going to come together at the end and surprise people,” concluded Nelson. “We had a lot of kids that didn’t have very much wrestling experience. They’ve stuck it out and got better and better and better. Some of the kids had to take their knocks, but they come to practice every day and go to work.”

The Beavers were scheduled for a home dual Tuesday night versus Anaconda, a match that occurred after the Dillon Tribune deadline. Dillon’s next home match will be Jan. 23 versus Butte High for Senior Night.


103 - Parker Smith, DIL, pinned Brandon Duff, POL, 4:33. 113 – Gavin Knutson, POL, won by forfeit. 120 - Noah Huffaker, DIL, pinned Maysn Cowell, POL, 3:47. 126 – Kedrick Baker, POL, pinned Gunner Wright, DIL, :37. 132 - Kennen Norman, POL, pinned Kaden Pittman, DIL, 3:16. 138 – Eli Carlos, DIL, pinned Elizabeth Clairmont, POL, 3:16. 145 – Jaren Keene, POL, pinned Tate Hanson, DIL, 1:15. 152 – Caleb Pierre, POL, pinned Peter Gibson, DIL, 3:48. 160 - Logan Adler, POL, pinned Tristin Lowell, DIL, :53. 170 – Cooper Hoffman, DIL, pinned Garrett Croft, POL, 1:21. 182 – Hunter Pittsley, POL, won by forfeit. 205 - Preston Hales, Dillon, pinned Aaron O’Roarke, POL, 1:56. 285 – A.J. Mathewson, POL, dec. Anthony Weary, DIL, 5-2.

FRENCHTOWN 42, DILLON 30 103 - Landon Stewart, FRE, pinned Parker Smith, DIL, 1:08. 113 – Eli Warner, FRE, won by forfeit. 120 - Noah Huffaker, DIL, pinned Walker Dyer, FRE, 3:55. 126 – Nic Blanchard, FRE, pinned Gunner Wright, DIL, 1:02. 132 - Zane Schroeder, FRE, pinned Kaden Pittman, DIL, 5:11. 138 – John Warner, FRE, pinned Eli Carlos, DIL, 3:46. 145 – Smokey Stoker, FRE, pinned Tate Hanson, DIL, 3:00. 152 – Peter Gibson, DIL, pinned Peyton Hicks, FRE, 4:14. 160 - Noah Rausch, FRE, pinned Tristin Lowell, DIL, 1:50. 170 – Cooper Hoffman, DIL, pinned Ayden Markovich, FRE, 1:52. 182 – Canyon Shope, FRE, won by forfeit. 205 - Preston Hales, Dillon, won by forfeit. 285 – Anthony Weary, DIL, won by forfeit.

DILLON 28, AA BELGRADE 42 103 - Colton Gutenburger, BEL, pinned Parker Smith, DIL, 1:00. 113 – Dyson Kinnaenan, BEL, won by forfeit. 120 - Carter Schmidt, BEL, dec. Noah Huffaker, DIL, 4-2. 126 – Gunner Wright, DIL, pinned Blake Eatman, 3:32.. 132 - Kaden Pittman, DIL, pinned Christian Lngunfelter, BEL, :35. 145 – Gage Meyer, BEL, pinned Taner Mussard, DIL, 1:15. 152 – Peter Gibson, DIL, dec. Hunter Groff, BEL, 7-0. 160 - Logan Linn, BEL, pinned Tristin Lowell, DIL, 1:01. 170 – Cooper Hoffman, DIL, pinned Hunter Rowan, BEL, 1:32. 182 – Tayden Vitt, BEL, won by forfeit. 205 - Xaden Cunningham, BEL, dec. Preston Hales, Dillon, 8-4. 285 – Zayne Konkol, BEL, pinned Anthony Weary, DIL, 4:26.