The Columbia Falls wrestling team should field one of its strongest teams in years. The Wildcats have 46 on the roster and are three and sometimes four wrestlers deep in each weight class, coach Jessie Schaeffer said.
“It’s going to be a battle to make a varsity position,” Schaeffer noted.
But it’s a nice dilemma to have for a program that is definitely on the upswing.
“It’s our biggest team in my tenure,” Schaeffer said. “We’re keeping a positive environment for them. Our philosophy is if we build them into men, we can make them into wrestlers.”
The Cats have a returning state champion. Sophomore Shonn Roberts won the 98-pound Class A title last year and will likely wrestle at 112 or 119 this year.
Schaeffer said the goal this year is to do well in the division and take one of the top-five spots in the state.
In addition to Roberts, the Cats will look for good things from Seth McCall, Bryan Shaffer, Zayne Brunz, Josiah Osborne, Wayde Motichka, Spencer Ross, Jake Burgess and transfer students Matt Erhart and Ike Schweikert.
Last season, the Cats qualified 15 wrestlers for the state tournament and took third in the division. They’ll get tough competition in the division from Polson and Frenchtown. Libby is always in the mix as well. Schaeffer is assisted by his brother, Ben and Winfield West.
The Cats open their season with a dual in Whitefish on Friday, Nov. 30. Wrestling starts at 6:30 p.m. Then they’re on the road for a month and a half until they host Hamilton on Jan. 19.