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BILLINGS — As usual, the Eastern AA wrestling seeding tournament is expected to be a battle.

The tourney takes place Saturday at Bozeman High School. 

Bozeman has been top-ranked in every Class AA Coaches Poll this season, but that doesn’t mean the Hawks are taking anything for granted.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Hawks coach Nate Laslovich said. “We’ve been in this spot a number of times. It doesn’t make a difference. We just have to perform and take care of business on our end.”

The tourney is slated to start at 11 a.m. Billings Senior, Billings Skyview, Billings West, Butte, Great Falls and Great Falls CMR will be joining the host Hawks in the competition.

“These schools are super competitive,” Laslovich said while motioning to wrestlers from Senior, West and Skyview at the Billings Duals last weekend. “And so are the Great Falls schools and Butte. … It’s not really relevant what you’ve done all year, you are taking two guys per weight (to divisionals). We have to get the young kids scoring points.”

While Laslovich said Saturday marks a new season, he is confident in his team.

“For our guys, we have a good core group of kids who are super competitive,” he said. “The expectation is they get to state and place well. We like our team and know they are working and think they’ll be competitive.”

Team scores are not kept at the Class AA seeding tourneys. The Western AA seeding tournament is on Saturday at Missoula Big Sky. The top eight wrestlers in each weight class at both tournaments advance to state on Feb. 8-9 at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. 

‘Everyone is 0-0’

Top-ranked and defending State A champion Sidney is having a terrific year with wins at the Class A Duals, Bismarck (N.D.) Rotary, and Cowboy Invitational.

That doesn’t mean anything when the Eastern A starts on Saturday in Miles City at Custer County District High School, said 33-year Sidney coach Guy Melby. Action begins at 9 a.m. with the finals starting at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Teams competing are the Eagles, Billings Central, Miles City, Glendive, Hardin, Laurel, Belgrade, Lewistown, Havre and Livingston.

“After today is over everyone is 0-0,” Melby said at the Billings Duals last Saturday. “It doesn’t matter that we won the Cowboy and the Rotary. It doesn’t matter come state. We aren’t going to overlook any matches at divisionals.

“You have to finish your season.”

Melby said he expects solid competition.

“The East has some really good individuals,” he said. “Team-wise it is us and Havre. Laurel has some good numbers.

“It will be really competitive. It always is.”

Sidney overwhelmingly won the tourney last year, 328 to 244.5 over Havre.

The top eight individuals in each weight class advance to the state tournament. 

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Email Gazette Deputy Sports Editor John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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