The Choteau High School wrestling squad will be at home on Jan. 9 for the Choteau mixer, starting at 6 p.m. in the high school gym. The wrestlers will be on the road Jan. 10 and 11 at the Cut Bank High School invitational tournament.
Choteau coaches Sam Armstrong and Levi Guenzler have just five wrestlers out this season: Hagen Kalista at 113 pounds, Daysha McLoughlin at 120 pounds, Kaide Kindler at 138 pounds, Liberty LaValley at 145 pounds and Jacob Major at 170 pounds.
Last week, the wrestlers attended the Santa Showdown mixer at Shelby on Jan. 2, where each of the wrestlers got two matches and no team scores were kept. Armstrong on Monday said he saw good moves and positioning and saw mistakes that his group of young wrestlers needs to work on as the season progresses.
“We are continuing to build,” he said.
McLoughlin was able to wrestle a girl for the first time this season and while she did not win the match, she now has a better idea of what she needs to improve on for the future, when, Armstrong hopes, the Montana High School Association will approve girls wrestling as an MHSA-sanctioned activity.
The MHSA Girls Wrestling Ad-Hoc Committee sent out a memo last week that said the committee has reached a consensus that girls wrestling should be added as an MHSA-sanctioned activity for the 2020-21 school year for a minimum of a two-year pilot program.
During that period, girls would be able to compete against other girls or boys during regular-season matches. In the post-season, girls would compete only against other girls in one open classification, and all girls would qualify for the state tournament during the pilot (without a divisional tournament).
Schools would determine whether boys and girls would practice together and have the same coaches. By MHSA rules, a head coach would have to be designated for both programs though the head coach for each could be the same person.
The same weight classes of 103 pounds, 113, 126, 138, 152, 170 and 205 would be used, with the possibility of adjusting those weights.
The same weigh-in procedures for both boys and girls would be used. And as with the boys, all girls would be able to compete in up to 18 contested events and up to 50 total matches in the regular season.
Armstrong said he was glad to read the Ad-Hoc Committee’s recommendations and hopes the MHSA will approve those recommendations. He said he is glad to see two CHS girls out for wrestling this season and says they are working hard and improving every week.
Armstrong said he has heard some negative comments from community members about girls going out for wrestling, but said he supports Choteau’s girls and is proud of their leadership and their determination.
This week’s matchup in Choteau will feature wrestlers from Valier, Simms and Fairfield. Choteau has no seniors out this season so there will not be a “senior night” ceremony.
The CHS squad will travel to Cut Bank on Jan. 10 to compete in the large varsity tournament and will stay overnight at a Cut Bank church. Anyone put out of the double-elimination tournament on Friday will still be able to compete in the one-day junior varsity tournament on Saturday.
As the season continues, Armstrong said, his squad will continuing drilling for technique, but will put a big focus on conditioning so they are in the best physical shape possible as they head into the post-season.
In two weeks, Choteau will host the massive Choteau Classic wrestling tournament on Jan. 17 and 18. Anyone interested in volunteering to help with this two-day varsity and junior varsity tournament should contact Armstrong or the high school.
After the Classic, Choteau will wrestle at Valier on Jan. 23, at Great Falls Central Catholic on Jan. 25 and at the Malta invitational on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The post-season starts on Feb. 7 and 8 with the divisional meet in Conrad, followed by the all-class state tournament in Billings on Feb. 14-15.
Junior high wrestling for boys and girls in grades five through eight will start practice on Jan. 27. Guenzler is the head junior high coach and Armstrong is the assistant. Last year, the program had 17 boys in fifth through seventh grade out. This season, Armstrong said, they hope to get most of those boys back plus a few fifth graders, including Lucy Armstrong, the coach’s daughter, who will become one of Choteau’s first female junior high wrestlers.