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Ronan Girls win second state wrestling title

by Brandon Hansen / For The Leader
| February 15, 2024 12:00 AM

The Ronan Girls won their second-straight wrestling championship at the All-State Girls Wrestling Tournament Feb. 9-10 in Billings, filling up the podium with several champs and placers.

"For the girls to win back-to-back state titles is awesome," Ronan Head Coach Dylan Kramer said. "It was a great effort by everyone on the team. All of those girls contributed in some form or fashion to make our goal a reality."

River Cote was champion in the 100-pound category, pinning four for first place. Cote felled Anaconda’s Rachael Rodgers in 88 seconds in the second round. Cote then pinned Billings Skyview’s Victoria Tenney in 42 seconds in the quarterfinals, pinned Huntley Project’s Gracie Murray in the semifinals in 37 seconds and put Manhattan’s Dani Larson to the mat in 1:02 in the championship bout.

Tirza TwoTeeth won the 235-pound bracket and finished the season a perfect 29-0 in tournament action. TwoTeeth pinned her second-round foe, Fort Benton’s Mica Juedeman, in 45 seconds. In the quarterfinals, she pinned Custer County’s Saige Kelly in 4:18 and advanced to the first-place match by pinning Flathead’s Lucille Libby in 2:31. In the championship bout, she took just 52 seconds to pin Cut Bank’s, Haylee Fetters.

Kramer said both Cote and TwoTeeth "dominated the entire year. River only gave up two points all year and pinned all of her opponents. Tirza wasn't far behind with pinning every opponent except one on her way to defending and winning her second state title." 

Ronan’s Katie Dolence was second at 126 pounds. She notched a technical fall 15-0 over Flathead’s Brady Boll. In the quarterfinals, Dolence pinned Laurel’s Cadence Weis in 93 seconds. In the semifinals, she pinned Shepher’s Ashlynn Kistenmacher in 5:18 before getting injured in the championship bout.

"Having Katie Dolence take second was tough because she got injured in the final seconds of the match which ultimately made it near impossible for her to come back and win the match but she didn't give up," Kramer said. "Not a single person in the Metra would have blamed her for injury defaulting out the match but she found a way to keep fighting down to the bitter end. That speaks volumes to who she is, what her legacy is going to be, and what Maidens wrestling is all about." 

Brynn Courville was third at 138 pounds. She had a 15-second pin in the second round over Lockwood’s Kennady Krebs, then followed that up with a 51-second pin over Baker’s Jessica Stark in the quarterfinals. After losing by a decision in the semifinals, Courville bounced back in the consolation semifinals with a 2:12 pin of Helena’s Clara Schuele. The third-place match saw Courville pin her foe – Browning’s Yasmine Tatsey-McKay – in 46 seconds.

"Her only loss at the tournament was to the girl who ended up winning it," Kramer said.

At 152 pounds, Leona Dodson Howe placed third. In the second round, she pinned Belgrade’s Dakota Carter-Ochoa. In the quarterfinals, Dodson Howe was pinned, but she bounced back through the consolation bracket. She pinned Billings West’s Gracie Tolman and Helena Capital’s Bryton Kipp and won an 8-4 decision over Butte’s Mattie Stepan in the consolation semifinals. In the third-place match, Howe pinned Baker’s Macey Tate in two minutes.

The wrestler “tore through the consolation side of the bracket," Kramer said. "She flipped a switch once she lost and told herself she wasn't going to lose again. Leona lost to two girls from the AA twice, earlier this year. Each time she wrestled them, the matches got closer and this weekend she took both of them out in back-to-back matches and then capped it off with a pin for third place."

Kramer said the program talks about "closing the gap" on opponents and that Howe embodied that process. "Leona trusted the process and worked incredibly hard and for her to accomplish her goal was amazing." 

Ronan Boys place seventh

The Chiefs finished seventh as a team at MHSA State Championships at MetraPark in Billings with several placers and a state champion.

"We had big goals heading into this season and sometimes when you have big goals, you set yourself up for the possibility of failing,” Coach Kramer said. “I don't think our boys failed, they wrestled to their fullest potential and things didn't shake out the way we thought they could, but I am still so proud of the way that they competed all year and especially the state tournament."

Ronan’s Landon Bishop won a state championship in the Class A 170-pound bracket. Bishop pinned his first two opponents, East Helena’s Cooper Dighans and Havre’s Landen Caplette, in the first round and quarterfinals. Bishop then picked up a 14-8 decision over Laurel’s Beau Mares in the semifinals and a 12-7 decision over Dawson County’s Jaden Silha in the championship bout.

For the athlete “to cap off his dominant senior year with a State Championship was incredible," Kramer said. His extra effort all year long made him “very deserving of a state title."

Koda King was second in the 152-pound bracket. He pinned his first-round foe, Sidney/Fairview’s Jason Sorteberg, in 27 seconds. In the quarterfinals, King pinned Laurel’s Logan Knaub in 3:48 and posted a 9-6 decision over Havre’s Reinhard Bold in the semi-finals before falling to Laurel’s Kade Wersland.

"The thing about our kids is that they are state champions in every aspect of their life," Kramer said. "We try to instill that being a champion isn't something you do, it's who you are. Take a kid like Koda King, he's a champion in the way he approaches life. From his work in the classroom, how he practices all year, how he competes in other sports like cross-country, the multiple programs he's involved in like HOSA, and just generally who he is."

 Kramer said King's final match was without doubt the most exciting and controversial match of the tournament.

 "He didn't go out to keep it close or wrestle not to lose, he wrestled to win and he went down swinging," Kramer said. "We have a team joke that we try to wrestle like it's a wild west shootout, we're going to shoot all six shots at 'em and then throw the gun 'em and then go fist to cuffs. Koda did just that. He didn't get flustered, he kept his composure and wrestled his heart out, which is all I can ever ask of a kid."

Kramer said the goal for Ronan is to have their wrestlers healthy and let them loose at the state tournament "to do what they do."

"It's a bigger venue with more people but the size of the mat is still the same,” he said. "And we always tell our kids to control what they can control and a lot of things at the state tournament are outside of our control so just go wrestle to score points." 

Ronan’s Ian Dillard was third at 103 pounds at state. Dillard fell his first-round foe, Three Forks/Ennis’ Howie Gayle, in 42 seconds. In the quarterfinals, Dillard fell but bounced back in the consolation bracket with falls over Billings Central.

"Ian Dillard went out on a high note taking third as a senior by beating a kid he lost three times previously this year," Kramer said. 

Dillard notched a 3-2 decision over Bigfork’s Diego Rodriguez, and then in the consolation semifinals, notched a 7-1 decision over Lockwood’s William Alves. In the third-place match, Dillard scored a 4-0 win over Laurel’s Jonah Casterline.

At 120 pounds, Ridge Cote was fourth for Ronan. He pinned Lockwood’s Evan Ketterling in 53 seconds. He notched his second big win in the quarterfinals, falling Fergus’ Preston Johnson in 48 seconds. After losing in the semifinals, Cote pinned his consolation semifinal opponent, Travis Nygard of Frenchtown, to advance to the third-place match.

August Courville was sixth in the 126-pound bracket for Ronan. He notched a 15-0 technical fall over Havre’s Grady Haney. In the quarterfinals, Courville scored a 6-3 decision over Miles City’s Jake Phalen. After falling in the semifinals and consolation semifinals, he faced Phalen again but fell 13-2.

Both boys and girls squads for Ronan will include the following state placers for next year: River Cote and Tirza Two Teeth (both champions); Koda King (2nd); Brynn Courville and Leona Dodson Howe (third); Ridge Cote (fourth) and August Courville (sixth).

Two Polson girls place at State

Polson Girls Wrestling had two place at the MHSA State Championships in Billings.

Harli Kinney was fifth at 145 pounds. She notched three falls during the tournament. In the second round, she fell to Billings West’s Elizabeth James in 3:31, then in the quarterfinals, she pinned Billings Senior Paisley Jaeger in 4:46. Kenney placed fifth after falling to Jaeger in the fifth-sixth place match.

At 165 pounds, Abighail Sorrell placed sixth. In the second round, she pinned Billings West Grace Coomes in 1:09, and then came up through the consolation bracket after falling in the quarterfinals. Sorrel pinned Conrad’s Kara Jones and Malta’s Ava Hanson.


    Maiden Tirza TwoTeeth was a state A-C champion for the second year in a row, wrestling 235 pounds. (Ellen Kaphammer photo)
 
 
    Ronan's Landon Bishop was named State Champion at 170 pounds. (Ellen Kaphammer photo)
 
 
    Aubrey Sharbono and Meadow Ragen (front) and Kai O Brian, Donovan Daniels and manager Kelby Dumont represented the Mission-Charlo squad at last week's State Wrestling Tournament in Billings. (Ellen Kaphammer photo)
 
 
    Max Ramesar wins a match for Polson during last weekend's State Wrestling Tournament in Billings. (Ellen Kaphammer photo)
 
 
    Polson's Harli Kinney was fifth in the state tournament at 145 pounds. (Ellen Kaphammer photo)