THREE FORKS — For the first time in 35 years, a home wrestling event was held at Three Forks High School Thursday evening.
The Class B program was revived a year ago, and the Wolves hosted Manhattan and Powell County in a mixer that lasted just over an hour and featured nearly two dozen matches.
“We didn’t wrestle to our ability tonight,” Three Forks coach Nye Howey said. “But it was fun being in this gym, being with the home crowd, and it was just a great time.”
The Wolves spent all of last year on the road, but were able to honor their three seniors prior to the team’s lone home event of the season. Howey hopes to add a home dual against Manhattan, which began its program a year ago, beginning next year.
“I think it would be really exciting. Get the communities behind us on that,” he said. “And get a traveling trophy to go in between the schools, whoever wins that, and I think it will be a great time if we can get that going.”
With it being the first time competing in front of parents and classmates at home, Howey felt that his grapplers were a little skittish.
“Kids wrestled pretty hard. Didn’t do real great tonight. I think it was more nerves that anything,” he said. “This is the first time they’ve ever wrestled in front of anybody. We do get their parents and stuff going to tournaments, but to have a crowd at home, it was pretty exciting.”
All 22 matches were won by fall and only one — the first of the evening — made it to the third period. Powell County’s Malik Jones pinned Three Forks’ Domanic LaBonte at the 5:07 mark at 205 pounds.
“Domanic LaBonte, he wrestled at 205 in his first match. Malik Jones out of Deer Lodge, Dom beat him last weekend. I know Malik was coming after him tonight,” said Howey. “And it showed. It was a good match, a hard fought match.”
LaBonte finished 1-2 in the mixer after giving up some weight to battle the Wardens’ two heavy weights. He pinned Tucker Smith at the 1:48 mark, but was pinned by Jonah Jones in second period.
Tanner Sayers won at 145, and Howey noted the effort of Trace and Bryon Hay at 113 and 170 pounds, respectively.
“Trace Hay, my 113-pounder, has never stepped foot on a mat before. He’s starting to pick it up,” said Howey. “He’s just right on the brink of starting to catch some things and kind of know what’s happening. He’s wrestling good.
“Bryon Hay wrestled hard. He’s kind of injured right now, hurting a little bit. He got beat up last weekend. He wrestled hard tonight.”
Coltin Siphikas, notched a pair of wins for Manhattan, including a first round pin of Three Forks’ Steven Strickland, and five Tigers were victorious in mixer.
But, like Howey, Manhattan coach Raymond Debruycker didn’t feel it was an especially good night for his team.
“A lot of the matches were quick tonight. Either good or bad quick matches,” he said. “We actually held practice before we came today. I think just setting the mentality of it doesn’t matter who, where or when we wrestle, we want to wrestle our style. Trying to breed that confidence is what we’re looking for.”
Also posting wins for the Tigers were Porter Blanchard (126), Carson Butts (160), Josiah Harrison (170), and Cyrus Richardson (160).
“What we worked in this week is being aggressive and trying to set the tone a little bit, and for the most part I think that translated,” said Debruycker. “It was really cool to see wrestling back in this building and I’m excited for next week (a mixer on Dec. 20) with ours, and I hope it carries over.”
While Three Forks has the weekend off, Manhattan will compete in the two-day CMR Holiday Classic in Great Falls.