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! OB WEDNESDAY, DEC. 21, 2011 Sports SIDNEY HERALD Hard work paying dividends for Neuleib BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY flERALO Dedication and a tremen- dous work ethic have helped Sidney heavyweight wres- tler Allen Neuleib become the number one ranked wrestler in his division. The 5-foot-10, 265 pound senior is 19-1 so far this season, and has already taken home hardware as the first-place finisher at the Eagle Invitational tourna- ment in Sidney and the Pat Weede Memorial tourna- ment in Gillette, Wyo. He is also the top ranked heavy- weight in the Montana Class A coaches poll, a ranking he has held all three weeks this season. While Neuleib has become a fixture atop the heavy- weight rankings, that was not always the case. He notched just one varsity win as a freshman, but his burning desire to succeed and hard work in the weight room have transformed him into one of the most intimi- dating wrestlers in the state. "He is just a great example of a student who makes his mind up that he wants to do something and goes out and does it," wrestling coach Guy Melby said. Neuleib was not physi- cally prepared for the rigors of high school competition when he entered ninth grade. He mostly wrestled on the junior varsity squad as a freshman and struggled to pull off the techniques his coaches taught him because he lacked the neces- sary strength. Frustrated with his fresh- mall season, Neuleib asked Melby what he needed to do to get better. Melby told him to spend a lot of time in the weight room and attend camps to gain experience and refine his technique. Neuleib acted on Melby's advice and made tremen- dous strides as a sophomore, eclipsing the .500 mark with Allen Neuleib pins his opponent from Bismarck Century, N.D. during a 28-25 record. But it was not until last season, Neuleib's junior year, that he broke into the ranks of the elite. He ended the year with a 29-9 record and finished strong, taking first place at the Eastern A divisional tournament by defeating Chris Kurkowski of Miles City in the divisional cham- pionship bout. He followed that up by steam-rolling his first two opponents at the state tournament, securing pins in the first period of both bouts, before edg- ing out a 3-2 decision over Polson's Josiah Clairmont in the semi-finals. The state championship bout pit- ted Neuleib in a rematch against Kurkowski, who got the better of Neuleib in a 7-2 decision. "I was nervous going into it," Neuleib admitted. "It's hard because I know his style of wrestling, and he knew my style, so every- thing I did, he already knew I could do." After the season, Neuleib earned an invitation to the Tournament of Champions, an annual wrestling tourna- ment in Great Falls featur- ing the best wrestlers in Montana, but he was unable to attend because of other commitments. Neuleib's breakout was a result of his dedication to the sport, Melby said. "He's one of those guys that has put in a lot of work in the weight room. I think that weight training gave him confidence. He was physi- cally weak as a freshman. Now he's the strongest kid in the high school, and that's through hard work and weight training." Neuleib began wrestling in seventh grade at the suggestion of middle school wrestling coach Shane Gorder. Gorder coached Neuleib as an assistant on the middle school football team, and he told Neuleib ERtN GRAVES I SUI|MITtEO the Pat Weede Memorial tournament in Gillette, Wyo. Friday. wrestling would help his technique as an offensive and defensive lineman. Neuleib continued to play football in high school and started at nose tackle and offensive guard this season, but wrestling ended up be- ing the sport in which found the most success. Unlike football, where the linemen rarely have the opportunity to score touch- downs, wrestling gives the biggest stage to the heavy- weights. In Montana, heavy- weights are the last group to hit the mat at dual meets, meaning the team's outcome could end up in their hands, a responsibility Neuleib has shouldered in the past. "It's kind of scary that you know if you lose it's going to be your whole team losing," he said. "But if you win, it brings joy to you that you pretty much led your whole team to win." Melby takes comfort in knowing the match may end up in Neuleib's hands. "If we were to pick a guy on our squad for it to come down to the last match, I'd pick him every time," Melby said. "Not only do I have confidence in him, but the team has confidence in him, and he has confidence in himself." At 265 pounds, Neuleib is in the middle of the heavy- weight division, which ranges from 216 pounds to 285 pounds, and that is ex- actly where he wants to be. "I think being in the middle of the weight class helps me, because it's not so much that you're heavier than everyone else, or lighter," Neuleib said. "You just have to have more muscle and still be able to move. Being fast is really a key to being a good wrestler." Neuleib has lofty goals for his senior year. Kurkowski, the defending heavyweight champion, was a senior last year, leaving Neuleib as the highest placing returner at the Class A heavyweight division. He will not be satisfied with anything less than individual first-place finishes at both the division- al and state tournarnerLts. He also believes the team can achieve similar success, despite finishing ninth at the state tournament a year ago. "This year we stick together more as a team," he said. "I think that helps us win duals, ff somebody's on their back, we're yelling a them to fight off their bpack or whatever." As a senior captain, beu- leib is settling into his role as a team leader. "It's kind of been my responsibility to make sure everybody's at practice and make sure ev- erybody's close to weight," he said. "I've worked up to it, but it's starting to come naturally now." Next year he wants to wrestle in college, som- thing he realized was a real possibility following his suc- cess last season. "I wasn't sure of it so much last year," Neuleib said. "But after- tak- ing second at state, I kaow I'm capable of going to col- lege and wrestling." Melby agrees that Neuleib has what it takes to wrestle at the collegiate level. "Without a doubt," lIellby said when asked if Neu_leib is capable of wrestling in college. "Just because of his work ethic." Montana State University- Northern in Havre is at the ....... top of his list, both because of its wrestling teanl and its diesel mechanic program, something Neuleib has been interested in ever since he was a young boy helping his dad repair equipment on the family farn. "I was alrays helping him work on trac- tors," he said. Next up for Neuleib and the Sidney wrestlers are home duals against Baker and Wolf Point, which begin at 6 p.m. Thursday. Fairview girls hold off Culbertson The Fairview girls bas- ketball team knocked off previously unbeaten Culb- ertson 52-44 Saturday in a highly-anticipated matchup between last year's district and divisional champion, Fairview, and Culbertson, District 2-C's top ranked team in the preseason. "I thought we played very well," Fairview head coach Mark Thompson said. "They came out with a lot of in- tensity, and we were able to match it." The score was tied at 14 at the end of the first quarter. Fairview took a narrow 26-25 lead at half time, and extended its lead to 37-34 by the end of the third quarter. Fairview finished the game strong, outscoring Culb- ertson 15-10 in the fourth quarter. Tiffany Kittleson, Jordan Gifford and Masyn Klose all scored double figures for the Warriors. Kittleson led the way with 16 points, while Gifford scored 14, and Klose scored 12. Other scorers for Fairview were Trisha Hur- ley with six and Brittany Schneider with four. Caitlin Hofman led Culb- ertson with 19 points. Other scorers for the Cowgirls were Bailey Nickoloff with 15, Tori Kirkaldie with six, Shelby Weeks and Allie Crowder with two and Kate Reid with one. Savage boys, girls stay unbeaten The Savage boys and girls basketball teams both improved to 4-0 with wins against Westby/Grenora Saturday, The boys team trailed 13-8 at the end of the first quar- ter, but outscored Westby/ Grenora 23-4 in a huge sec- ond quarter that propelled them to a 63-56 victory. rauen Le[' score(] za points to carry the Sav- age offense. Other scorers were Chris Reynolds with 12, Wyatt Hagler with nine, Shad Stanford with seven, and Zach TunneU-Wilson and Tanner Hagler with six apiece. The Savage girls received their toughest test of the season in Saturday's 55-52 win. Savage trailed 42-38 at the end of three quarters before coming from behind to earn the win. Bridger Rice led the War- riors with 18 points. Other scorers were Shanae Pre- vost with 13, Brittany Smith with 11, Shelby Stanford with eight, Hanna Jepsen with three and Desiree Mar- ten with two. Fairview boys' defense stifles Cowboys The Fairview boys bas- ketball team bounced back from Friday's loss to Brock- ton with a great defensive effort against Culbertson. Fairview held the Cow- boys to 29 points in the 49-29 victory, and improved to 4-1 on the season. Culbertson dropped to 4-2 with the loss. "As a team, we just played really well defensively," Fairview head coach Luke Kloker said. Tim Hurley paced the Fairview offense with 18 points, including three three-pointers. Hurley also had seven rebounds and four assists. Duncan Sloan led the Warriors with 10 rebounds, while finishing second on the team with 10 points. Other scorers for Fairview were Cody Vitt with eight, Justin Bieber with five, Riley Reynolds with four and Jace Taylor and Monte Cayko with two points each. Ben Bighorn led Culbert- son with 11 points. Other scorers for the Cowboys were Kyle Nielsen with eight points, Justin Larsen and Drew Larsen with four points apiece and Lane Sherman with two points. Rangers to hold The annual Richland Rangers alumni hockey game will take place Friday at Ranger Arena. A four-team alumni tour- nament will begin at 9 a.m. The current girls team will play their alumni at 5 p.m. The junior gold alumni will play the current junior gold team at 7 p.m. There is no charge for silent auction at alumni game admission, but free-will donations are ercouraged. The alumni association will host a silent auction beginning at 5 p.m. Funds collected will go toward both a scholarship to help new skaters pay their hockey fees and a new hockey train- ing facility. Among the items being auctioned off are a Universi- ty of North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey jersey signed by the team, Fighting Sioux hockey tickets, Minot State hockey tickets and auto- graphed NHL memorabilia. Sidney businesses including The Lucky Buckle, Electri- cLand and A Little Off the Top will also donate items to the silent auction. Sidney wrestlers compete on big stage in Gillette tourney BY STEVE HAMEL SIDNEY HERALD The Sidney wrestling team went 2-5 at the pres- tigious Pat Weede Memo- rial Wrestling Tournament in Gillette, Wyo., over the weekend, winning duals against Scottsbluff, Neb., and Poudre, Colo., and los- ing duals against Douglas, Wyo., Ponderosa, Colo., Bismarck Century, N.D., Wagner, S.D., and Campbell County, Wyo. Sidney ll3-pounder Gresh Jones and heavyweight Allen Neuleib earned first place honors in their indi- vidual weight classes. Jor- dan Stevens finished second in the 132-pound division. "We competed and every- body fought hard," Sidney coach Guy Melby said. "You have to look at the competi- tion. It was tough." After losing their opening match 39-32 to Douglas Sat- urday, Sidney bounced back in the second round with a 51-24 win over Scottsbluff. Sidney dropped its next two duals to finish 1-3 on the first day of the tournament, losing 44-22 to Ponderosa and narrowly dropping a 32-31 match with Bismarck Century. Sidney lost to Wagner 45-31 in its first dual on Sun- day, but the Eagles bounced back with a 45-30 win over Poudre, despite forfeiting two slots. Jones, Neuleib, Jordan Stevens, Jace Buxbaum, Joe Barsotti, Spencer Brost and Jory Stevens all pinned their Poudre opponents, while Dace Fisher and Raymond Jolley were the only Sidney wrestlers to get pinned. Gene Speldrich won a 7-0 decision. Ethan Graves and Brody Rooks both lost decisions. Sidney finished the tour- nament with a 52-17 loss to host Campbell County' which took first place with a perfect 7-0 team record. Individually, Neuleib KARl JOtES I SIJBMITTED Gresh Jones takes down Douglas, wyo.'s, Blayn Watson Friday at the pat Weede Memorial tournament. and Jones both finished the tournament 7-0. Jor- dan Stevens went 6-1, Jory Stevens went 5-2 and Brost and Rooks each went 4-3. Speldrich finished an even .500 at 3-3, Buxbaul went 3-4 and Tracy went 1-3. Graves, Barsotti and Fisher each went 1-6, while Ray- mond Jolley went 0-7. l.,ocal Activities Schedule Basketball Thursday, Dec. 22 Fairview at Westby/Grenora at Westby Hockey Thursday, Dec. 22 Rangers at Hazen Friday, Dec. 23 Alumni Game at the Ranger Arena Wrestling Thursday, Dec. 22 Sidney vs. Baker/Wolf Point