They might have had one of the smaller teams Saturday in Townsend, but it didn’t stop Manhattan from coming up big at the Southern B/C Divisional tournament.
The Tigers boasted a pair of champions, qualified five of their seven grapplers for state, and earned a fifth place team finish with 102 points. Columbus/Absarokee won the team title with 221 points, while Broadwater County and Whitehall rounded out the top three with 180.5 and 172, respectively.
Manhattan finished just four points behind Jefferson County, which was fourth with 106 points.
“I was really proud of our team finish with only seven wrestlers,” Manhattan coach Raymond Debruycker said. “The success of this weekend started with a great week of practice and just focusing on getting better each day. It culminated on Saturday with our best wrestling of the year.”
Porter Blanchard (26-15) became the first grappler in school history — the program is in its second year — to qualify for state twice. He finished 3-0 en route to winning the 126-pound crown, including an 8-1 decision over Columbus/Absarokee’s Peyton Baumgartner in the championship match.
Forest Fairbanks (30-15) also finished with a 3-0 record, pinning each of his opponents en route to the 138-pound title. He needed less than a minute to beat Jefferson’s Eli Reed in the championship match.
Earning a runner up finish at 152 was Coltin Siphikas. He finished with a 2-1 record in his first matches since December following an injury.
Carson Butts placed third at 160 after going 3-1, while Garrit Weeda was fourth at 170. The top four in each weight class advanced to state.
Cyrus Richardson just missed qualifying for state at 152. He finished 3-2 on the day and came up one victory shy of advancing after losing to Great Falls Central’s Trevor Thompson by first period fall in the consolation semifinals.
Jackson Bloomgren rounded out the Tigers, finishing 0-2 at 170.
“It was a great day for the wrestlers and their parents and for the program still in its infancy,” said Debruycker. “We are going back to work on Monday and going to continue to try and get better.”
Three Forks placed ninth among the 12 teams with 31 points. The lone state qualifier was Bryant Kotter, who placed fourth at 138.
Only five Wolves competed in the tournament with Sam Schade and Tanner Sayers placing sixth at 132 and 145, respectively. Sayers was the lone grappler to reach state last year.
“It was tough,” Three Forks coach Nye Howey said. “Everyone wrestled well with a lot of heart. Lost some close matches that we made some mistakes in and couldn’t recover.”
The State B/C tournament begins Friday in Billings.
“We have a motto we remind each other of daily, ‘Be happy but not satisfied.’ Manhattan wrestlers are happy with how they performed, but not satisfied yet,” said Debruycker. “They are hungry for more work and trying to prove they belong at a bigger stage.”