The Class A numbers game Guy Melby and Tim Zody foresaw early in the week played out Friday at the state wrestling tournament.
Havre jumped all over the competition during the tournament’s first day at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, advancing nine into the semifinals with a handful of others scoring points in the consolation rounds.
But Sidney and Glendive are still within striking distance heading into Saturday’s final rounds.
With 129½ points, Havre sits on top of the team standings. Sidney is in second with 95 points, while Glendive and Columbia Falls are tied with 85.
Melby, Sidney’s longtime coach, said the tourney’s first day went as expected.
“I thought we had a pretty good day,” said Melby, whose team put six wrestlers in the semis. “But nobody’s going to know what the deal is until (Saturday) after the semifinals.
“The guy with the most bullets is going to win. That’s the way it works.”
Havre jumped to a 30-plus point lead midway through Day 1 on the strength of nine semifinalists. Leading the charge was 189-pound senior Grant Pattison, who pinned his way through his first two matches.
The Blue Ponies also put two semifinalists in two separate weight classes -- Logan Pleninger and Grayson Brenna at 105 pounds, and brothers Tyler and Travis Adams at 215.
“The team is doing good,” Pattison said. “Everybody’s pinning the kids that they should have been. Team-wise we’re looking pretty good so far.”
Sidney and Glendive each had six reach the semifinals.
Tyler Forcella and Dillon Tennant won two matches apiece in the 130-pound weight class for Glendive. Also, Red Devils 145-pounder Tyler Kinn remained on track for his third championship with a pair of pins Friday.
Glendive’s Dillon Tennant, at 130, also won twice. Tennant is chasing his second championship after injuring his knee and missing last year’s state tournament entirely.
On Sidney’s side, sophomore Gresh Jones pinned twice on his way to the semis. Jones, at 119 pounds, seeks his second consecutive title.
Ryder Peterson, Sidney’s 171-pounder, also had a big day with a pair of victories.
Peterson said the Eagles were more focused Friday than they were the week prior, when they finished second behind Glendive at the Eastern A divisional tournament.
“We came into divisionals too confident,” said Peterson, who came to Sidney this school year from Dickinson, N.D. “We thought everybody was going to lay down for us. As a team, being beat at divisionals, it opened up a new place inside everybody.
“We knew we couldn’t come into the state tournament like we did last week. We had to have a different mindset. So far it’s paying off.”
Zody, Glendive’s coach of more than 30 years, said Saturday’s semifinal round will make or break the Red Devils’ chances.
“The numbers game really starts to add up,” Zody said. “We’re going to have to come through. We’re probably going to have to win all (six) semis to stay in the hunt.
“We’re going to have eight or nine guys get in and score points for us, and those six guys in the semis are going to have to carry the load. But that’s kind of the way it’s been all year.”
Several big matches were highlighted throughout the Class A bracket, but perhaps the best was the 130-pound quarterfinal bout between Laurel’s Karson Kukes and Anaconda’s Bryan Armstrong.
Armstrong, who won the 105-pound title last year at Butte High, outlasted Kukes 3-2 in overtime.
Elsewhere, a quartet of defending champions moved on to the semis.
Columbia Falls’ Shonn Roberts and Corvallis’ Chase Connor, both defending champions in the 112-pound class, advanced. As did Belgrade’s Bryce Weatherston and Libby’s Mitch Haugen, returning champs at 135.
Weatherston, who trailed Frentown’s Cody Lemons early in their quarterfinal match before securing an 11-3 major decision, is chasing his third title.
“I was a little slow today. I needed to pick it up,” Weatherston said. “I was getting a little manhandled at the beginning of the first (period versus Lemons).
“State titles are very exciting. It’s a feeling that you can’t really describe.”
Billings Central had three reach the semifinals — Zach Wall at 112 pounds, George Smith at 152 and Sean Getchell at 171.
Wall was a finalist last year. To make a return trip, Wall must defeat Corvallis’ Connor in the semis.
Getchell defeated his quarterfinal opponent, Lewistown’s Ethan Blythe, with a second-period pin. Blythe had been highly ranked at 171 for much of the year, making Getchell’s win one of the bigger upsets of the day.