It was a historic weekend for Manhattan’s third-year wrestling program as seniors Forrest Fairbanks and Coltin Siphakis became the first-ever state placers for the school.
Fairbanks is the first Tiger to reach a championship match en route to earning a runner up finish at 138 pounds in the State B/C Tournament at First Interstate Arena in Billings, while Siphakis placed third at 145.
“They just seemed super motivated and had been working hard all season,” Manhattan coach Patrick Hutchins said. “It’s nice to see them just get some validation.”
Led by the duo, the Tigers placed 14th among nearly 40 teams with 47 points. Glasgow won the championship with 154, while Huntley Project and Lincoln County rounded out the top three with 134 and 125, respectively.
Fairbanks (38-9) finished 3-1 on the weekend with a pair of pins. He pinned his first two opponents and then won a 6-4 decision against Circle’s Canyon Casterline in the semifinals.
The championship match, against Lincoln County’s Nathan Schmidt, was close throughout, but Fairbanks lost a tight match 9-5.
“Even though was a five-point deficit we were in it the whole time,” noted Hutchins. “There was never a minute in that match where I thought there’s no way we can do this.”
Fairbanks gave up a couple of points “here and there” Hutchins said, and nearly stuck Schmidt on his back late in the second period.
“We had a cradle locked up and man if we had 12 more seconds in that period I think Forrest might have pinned him,” Hutchins said. “But the clock ran out.”
Siphakis (31-9) also reached the semifinals, but then lost a tightly contested match 4-3. He cut it to a one-point deficit late in the third period on an escape, but was unable to notch the winning points against Circle’s Cole Becker.
“It just took us a long time to get out in the third, but we did,” Hutchins said. “And a little bit like Forrest’s situation where we just kind of got beat by the clock. I think if we had had maybe 30 more seconds Coltin could have dug out a take down and maybe won 5-4.”
Siphakis bounced back to beat Malta/Whitewater’s Camryn Mears by major decision, 8-0, in the consolation semifinals and then won a 5-1 decision against Baker’s Damien Nesbitt in the third place match.
“His mental game is so strong. He really does have what I would consider to be the mind and heart of a champion, which is not always winning but always getting back up and getting on to the next thing. And he responded perfectly,” said Hutchins. “He was obviously bummed out and upset that he missed out on the finals match by one point, and that’s hard. There’s no denying that’s hard.”
The Tigers’ other two competitors at the tournament were Garrit Weeda and Cyrus Richardson at 160 pounds. Weeda posted a 2-2 record with a pair of victories in the consolation bracket, while Richardson forfeited both of his matches.
In other action at the tournament, Three Forks’ Dylan Kamps (126) and Levi Wagner (132) each went 1-2 on the weekend. Wagner reached the quarterfinals following a first round pin of Baker’s Devon Nesbitt.
The Wolves placed 34th as a team with seven points.