Whitefish sends wrestlers to national tournament

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Coach Wes Flannery poses with his freshmen and sophomore Montana team at the AAU Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, last month.

While most Whitefish athletes are getting started in spring sports, a handful of dedicated wrestlers have been making the most of their offseason.

Seven wrestlers from Whitefish schools represented the state of Montana in the AAU Iowa National Duals in Des Moines from March 29-31, taking on the top wrestlers from around the country.

The participating wrestlers are Sidney Cooke, a junior at WHS; Alexis Aurand, eighth grade; Noah Cooke, eight grade; Tanner Harmon, eighth grade; Jackson Carson, sophomore; Nathan Sproul, freshman; and Dakota Flannery, sophomore.

On the girls side, Sidney Cooke finished second place in her bracket at 132 and earned All American Status. She put together a 4-2 record, falling only to a Nebraska wrestler twice.

Aurand also finished with a silver in the middle school bracket, and after bumping up to the high school team she took another silver at 113. She went 6-3 on the weekend.

For the middle school boys, Noah Cooke went 2-6 and Harmon 3-5.

Of the high school boys, Carson and Sproul went 4-4 each while Flannery went 7-1 and earned All American Status at 145.

Bulldogs wrestling head coach Ryan Boyle said he’s seen kids go to nationals tournaments before, but this year’s group was more than usual.

“It’s one of those things where we’ve sent one kid before but never a bunch of kids,” Boyle said. “They wrestled really well, everybody went at least two matches over there at a national wrestling tournament. They’re doing it in the off season, they’ve just kind of owned the whole thing and it’s just really cool to see.”

Wes Flannery, a coach for the team and Dakota’s father, said it was encouraging to see the amount of work put in by the students.

“They competed great and grew from it,” he said. “The offseason is where everyone grows. If you’re on the mat in the offseason, you’re improving.”

The Whitefish Community Foundation, the Reeb and Brooks families and others made the trip to the tournament possible as sponsors. Students also sold raffle tickets for a half day rafting and fly fishing trip to raise funds.

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