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TOWNSEND — Columbus-Absarokee High sent six wrestlers to the championship round and captured first place in the Class B-C Southern Divisional Tournament on Saturday.

Absarokee finished with 221 points. Weston Timberman (103), Tanner Cook (113), Cooper Cook (120), Peyton Baumgartner (126), Dylan Raihl (152) and Carter Beer (205) all made appearances in the championship finals.

Townsend, which has a sizable roster, finished a distant second, accumulating 180 points thanks to strong showings from Riley Richtmyer (120), Kameron Rauser (160), Justin Denton (182) and Jadon Lamb (205).

"We've got eight bullets in the gun," Towsend coach John O'Dell said after his team's second-place finish. "If we get eight kids in the top-six at state, we will finish well."

Columbus-Absarokee coach Jason Rhoten's vision of taking over the program has started to take shape, and the results are proof of his team's progress. Rhoten attributed his team's success to old-fashioned hard work.

"Every single day is just another brick in the wall," Rhoten said of building a foundation for his team. "Our team is just progressively getting better every single day."

Rhoten, who is in his first year as coach of the program, aspired to create a culture in his program to raise the expectation level of his team on a daily basis.

"Our expectations are just bigger than wrestling, and we emphasized things like accountability, which is something that they will use the rest of their lives," Rhoten said. "Some of those philosophies have started to translate to mat success."

Rhoten credited five assistant coaches for the success of his program this season as his team prepares to head to the Class B-C state wrestling tournament on Friday and Saturday at MetraPark in Billings.

"We strive to improve every single day, and compete as individuals to progressively get better," Rhoten said. "Everyone on our team has gotten better since the start of the season."

O'Dell hopes for his team to have a healthy appearance.

“We'll just focus on one match at a time and walk off the mat as if we have no regrets," O"Dell said. 

Townsend's Denton, who defeated his good friend Drake Schake to capture the 182-pound weight class title, said it is difficult to battle someone he considers a close friend.

"Wrestling Drake is never easy," Denton said. "You don't want to hurt someone feelings, and you don't want to hurt him but you want a good match. First and second teams going at each other is fun."

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Jason Blasco is the lead prep sports reporter for the Helena Indepedent-Record and a sports reporter for the 406mtsports.com network.

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