By EVAN MCCULLERS
The Daily Inter Lake
Jeff Thompson doesn’t obsess over his team’s numbers. Well, except for one.
After Flathead’s demolition of Glacier on Thursday evening at Flathead High School, the Braves wrestling head coach couldn’t say whether his team’s 10 pins in a single dual were the most this season. He was sure of one thing, though.
“I don’t keep track of that,” Thompson said of all the pins. “We’re 17-1. I know that.”
The Braves’ 17th victory of the season was a stress-free one, as they rolled over their crosstown rivals from start to finish.
Brendan Barnes kicked off the festivities with a pin in the 103-pound match, and Flathead’s utter domination didn’t stop until there was no one left to dominate. When all was done, the scoreboard in the corner of the dark gym glowed Flathead 70, Glacier 6.
“Our goal is to just constantly stay on the attack and put a lot of points on the board and score, score, score,” Thompson said. “Overall, I think we achieved that.”
Glacier’s lone bright spot came in the fourth match of the night, when Lane Wilson pinned Braden Comer to win the 126 match.
“Overall, they were the aggressors, and it definitely showed,” Glacier head coach Ross Dankers said. “(Wilson) went out and was the aggressor, and that was the difference. It was nice for him, in his senior year, to finish strong.”
The crosstown matchup featuring Flathead, the No. 1 team in Montana and a regional power, and unranked Glacier was always going to be an uphill climb for the Wolfpack, but it became all the more challenging after a debilitating week.
Three varsity starters for Glacier were out with the flu, and two more — Ruger Baier (138) and team captain Adam Elerick (145) — suffered season-ending injuries.
As was evident early and often, the shorthanded Wolfpack was no match for Flathead.
“They showed up; they wrestled well,” Thompson said. “We’re just kind of on that next level right now as a team.”
Bryce Shaffer and Dominic Battello followed Barnes’ pin with two of their own to give Flathead a comfortable advantage early. After Glacier’s only match victory, Jaden MacNeil won by forfeit and Bo Meyer took a 13-0 major decision before the floodgates swung all the way open.
The Braves closed the dual with seven consecutive pins, igniting the sizable crowd who came to see them perform at home for the first time this season.
“It was a sweet experience,” said Flathead senior Hunter Wellcome, who pinned his 205 opponent. “We’ve been grinding out of state and going on the road every week, so it was nice to give our home crowd a show.”
Payton Hume earned the quickest pin of the night, finishing off his rival at 170 in a mere 53 seconds. Michael Lee wasn’t far behind that mark at 285, pinning his opponent in 56 seconds to conclude an authoritative performance.
The commanding victory exceeded last year’s 63-point margin, continuing a pattern of dominance Flathead has enjoyed over the past few years of the crosstown series.
The Braves now have their sights set on a second consecutive Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic championship. Thursday night’s performance can only push them closer to taking that title, according to Thompson. Rocky begins today in Missoula,
“Momentum builds success,” Thompson said. “Getting a little more taste of a win, it’s going to help us for the Rocky this weekend. The Rocky is one of the tougher tournaments, if not the toughest tournament, in Montana, and I feel like this gets us momentum, gets us excited to perform there.”
103 — Brendan Barnes, F, pinned Dylan Miller, G, 2:56; 113 — Bryce Shaffer, F, pinned Kael Willis, G, 1:17; 120 — Dominic Battello, F, pinned Tristan Little, G, 4:50; 126 — Lane Wilson, G, pinned Braden Comer, F, 4:19; 132 — Jaden MacNeil, F, won by forfeit; 138 — Bo Meyer, F, maj. dec. Cole McCollam, G, 13-0; 145 — Tanner Russell, F, pinned Colton Todd, G, 2:59; 152 — Kenyon Fretwell, F, pinned Andrew Glynn, G, 1:31; 160 — Garrett Rieke, F, pinned Caden Gilmond, G, 3:51; 170 — Payton Hume, F, pinned Mason Torrez, G, 0:53; 182 — Tucker Nadeau, F, pinned Wes Palmer, G, 2:25; 205 — Hunter Wellcome, F, pinned Connor DeReu, G, 1:57; 285 — Michael Lee, F, pinned Ashton Thompson, G, 0:56.