The toughest competition of the year faced Ronan High School wrestlers last Friday and Saturday at the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic at Sentinel High School in Missoula, as many of the top matmen in western Montana, Idaho and eastern Washington came together for the 31-school tournament.
Justin Mays, the Chiefs’ 205-pounder, was the lone place winner for Ronan. He finished in fifth place — scoring 19 of Ronan’s 44 1/2 team points. The Chiefs, who filled just seven of the 13 weight classes, was 22nd, team-wise.
Mead, the powerhouse from Spokane, Wash., took the team title with 201 points. Bozeman was runner-up with 199 1/2. Great Falls High was third, and Havre fourth.
MAYS GOT off to a solid start at Missoula. After a first-round bye, he pinned Ruger Young of Helena in one-minute flat. Mays won by fall over Elijah McCann of Ferris (Washington) High School in 4:49 in the quarterfinals.
He wrestled well in the semifinals against Ben Voightlaender of Mead, but lost a 5-3 decision. Mays was unable to get his offense going in the consolation semifinals, edged by Austin Ratliff of Havre 3-2. Mays finished strong, though, using just 48 seconds to pin McCann again, giving him the fifth-place medal.
According to Ronan head coach Dylan Kramer, Mays ran into some tough luck in his two losses.
“The two matches he lost were by a total of three points,” Kramer said. “Wrestling and being in competitive matches, that’s what we’re looking for this time of year. You find out what your weaknesses are and build on them.”
LARZ SORRELL, at heavyweight, was the only other Chief who came close to earning a medal at the Classic. After an opening win by fall, Sorrell was pinned by Owen Hughes of Lake City (Idaho) in 3:45.
Sorrell used his aggressive style to win his next two bouts by fall (:54 and 1:48), but was pinned by Camyrn Vergeront of Glacier in 2:37 in the consolation fourth round.
KRAMER WAS pleased that Sorrell and Daniel Bishop made it to the second day of the Rocky Mountain Classic.
“The 152 weight class, where Daniel wrestled, was loaded, it was stacked,” Kramer said. “They’re working on developing their wrestling styles, being a sophomore and junior. At that level, we’re still focusing on basic wrestling stuff.”
Kramer said the Chiefs were involved in a “mixer” last Thursday at home, taking on Libby. “Everybody got one match,” the coach said.
RONAN WILL compete in the Class A Duals this Friday and Saturday in Belgrade, where all the schools in the class will be on the mats. There are “pool duals” Friday, then the top two from each pool is seeded into a championship bracket — like the Ronan Duals two weeks ago.
Next Thursday, Jan. 24, Polson hosts Ronan at 6 p.m. The Chiefs host Mission/Charlo on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m.