Chinook, Choteau and Havre Wrestlers Prepare for State - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Chinook, Choteau and Havre Wrestlers Prepare for State

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We are just a few days away from the All-Class High School State Wrestling Tournament and many of our area teams who won state titles a year ago are favorites to repeat. However, things were certainly put into perspective on Sunday with the loss of Chinook's Jesse Dannels.

Dannels, who had qualified for state in the the Class B/C 182 pound weight class, was on everybody's mind Wednesday when the gym at Chinook High School was filled to the brim with family and friends wanting to say their goodbyes. The 18 year old was killed in a car crash on Sunday. KFBB had talked with him a few weeks earlier about what made the Sugarbeeters so good. Dannels said it was the fact the team had been together for so long, they were like a family. Before practice on Wednesday, his teammates said it felt good just to be on the mat... and that they want to make sure to honor him by wrestling the best they can this weekend in Billings. 

"Obviously we talked about Jesse. But we really did talk about our goals mostly and what they wanted to do, where they wanted to be and how they wanted to approach it. Their goals hadn't changed," head coach Perry Miller said.

"It's a lot tougher to come to practice. I feel like there's nothing better to help with what's going on than a good work out. It's definitely given us that extra push. You see guys working a lot harder than we have all season for his sake," defending 132 point state champ Tate Niederegger added.

"Just do Jesse justice by doing as well as we can," Chinook senior Jake Norby stated. "(Coach) Perry has talked to us about doing the best as we can. When we got on the mat, there's nothing we can think about except wrestling."

Over in Choteau, the Bulldogs are the defending Class B team champs and have placed in the top two at state since 2011. Choteau will send seven wrestlers to the tournament, including defending state champs Steeler French and Chase DeBoo. The Bulldogs are confident after capturing the Northern B/C Divisional last weekend, and while they might have fewer wrestlers in Billings than in years past, they feel the ones that qualified are pretty darn good. 

"We're looking pretty good. We just gotta keep on getting pins, bonus points. We don't have many numbers but we sure do have quality," two-time defending state champ Steeler French says.

"I think we're as prepared as we usually are. The last few years we've done really well. I think it's going as usual," head coach Steve French added.

In Class A, it's no surprise the favorite to win is three-time defending team champion Havre. In last weekends Northern Divisional Tournament. the Ponies had seven wrestlers in the finals, six of them won the championship and Havre won the team title. The fact there was more competition than in years past because of the redistricting... just makes the Ponies that much more confident heading into state.

"It gives us a lot, especially since we moved from East to West. It's tougher than it used to be, so we're seeing a lot of kids that we need to be and everyone is just wrestling great," Havre junior Jase Stokes says.

"I think we're hungry to go out and win our individual and team title this year. I think we're ready," Ponies 152 pounder Parker Filius added..

"This divisional was a little finer than the last. We had more teams and it was more competitive so yeah it was a lot of fun," head coach Scott Filius says.

The All-Class State Tournament begins Friday morning in Billings.

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