Six Three Forks/Ennis High School wrestlers have qualified for this week’s State Tournament at the Metra in Billings.
Two-time state champion Cole Rogers led the way for the Wolves at last week’s Class A Eastern Divisional Tournament in Hardin with a first-place finish at 120 pounds. Emry Veland finished in fifth at 113 pounds, Howie Gayle (103) and Tatum Todd (132) finished in sixth, and Jacob Murphy (126) and Jack Hayder (152) qualified for state with seventh-place finishes.
Rogers was dominant, with three consecutive pins to start the tournament. Rogers pinned Coyt Krieger in the first round in 35 seconds, won by fall in the quarterfinals in 49 seconds over Max Holdoroff of Havre, and won at 1:20 in the semifinals against Preston Johnson of Fergus. Rogers won 9-3 in the finals against Elijah Nose of Laurel.
Rogers said his feeling going into his fourth state tournament is very different from his first one in 2021.
“I feel a lot more prepared. Freshman year I felt like I was going in blind. This year, I know what’s ahead of me and what I have to do to achieve my goals. I just feel more ready and more prepared this year. As always, I’m excited to go into this with my team, and I’m thankful for all my coaches who have been here since day one,” Rogers said.
Veland would bounce back from a loss in the quarterfinals with a pin over Austin Velk of Havre in 37 seconds and a 6-3 win over Colt McCord of Fergus. Veland won the fifth-place match 7-6 over Aramis Rivera of Billings Central.
Veland said it felt great to qualify for state and thanked his coaches and teammates.
After falling in the quarterfinals to William Alves of Lockwood, Gayle qualified for state with a pin over Tucker Stygles of Havre at 3:46 and an 8-7 decision win over Eli Lonski of Sidney.
An eighth grader, Gayle said it felt really cool to qualify for state.
“It’s nice because I get an extra year of high school competition. It’s been a great season, and I’m looking forward to the (state) tournament. The other older boys have helped me and given me tips, and all of the coaches have been great,” Gayle said.
An eighth-grader, Todd opened the tournament with a pin in 55 seconds over AJ Pocha of Park High School. Todd would bounce back from a quarterfinal loss with a pin over Keith Little Light of Hardin in 38 seconds and qualified for state with a 6-0 win over Isaiah Otto of Havre.
Todd said it has been a goal this year to break the mold of the ordinary and be special by being one of a handful of eighth-graders to make the short list of wrestlers punching their ticket to state.
“I’m super excited to know all of my hard work paid off. Wrestling with the upperclassmen is challenging and not to be taken lightly, Todd said.
Murphy opened the tournament with a pin over Colt Patterson of Fergus at 1:19. After a loss in the quarterfinals, Murphy would bounce back with a pin at 4:10 over Swayde Schindler of Hardin. Murphy won the seventh-place match with a pin over Grady Haney of Havre at 3:43.
Murphy said he was bummed out he was unable to compete at state last year due to injury.
“But I have worked hard to get back to where I’m at today, and even though Divisionals didn’t go as I had hoped, I’m planning to be 100% for state to do what I wanted to do last year,” he said.
Hayder opened the tournament with a pin in 38 seconds over Jason Sotreberg of Sidney. Hayder would qualify for state with a pin at 2:53 over Brendin Fiscus of Fergus and won the seventh-place match with a pin in 57 seconds over Sortreberg.
“I wrestled in Little Guy, but only started wrestling again in my sophomore year. I had a lot of catching up to do, so qualifying for state my senior year feels incredible. I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent my school at state,” Hayder said.
Competing at 126 pounds for the Wolves, Logan Douma picked up a pin over Tucker Stewart of Fergus at 1:28.
Wyatt Hart-Barker won at 138 pounds with a 13-2 majority decision over Eddie Arciga of Lockwoord.
Vincent Diaz picked up a pin for the Wolves at 182 pounds. Diaz defeated Jacek Lickfold of Havre at 5:04.
Randy Pyfer had a pin for Three Forks at 205 pounds, defeating Ashton Orthman of Hardin in 39 seconds.
The Montana All-Class State Tournament is scheduled for February 9 and 10 at the Metra Park Arena in Billings.