Hamilton High School Wrestler Junior Hannah Hurst was ranked number one in the 120-weight category in the Montana All Class Girls Wrestling Rankings that were released Friday.
HHS Wrestling Coach Chad Williams said that in Hurst’s record on Friday was 12 wins (eight against boys, four against girls) and eight losses. She has remained undefeated against girls her entire high school career.
“She is the real deal,” Williams said Friday. “Often she will wrestle girls heavier than her just to get a match. When she wrestles against boys, she is very aggressive and usually makes it to the third period.”
Hurst said she was a bit surprised at being selected number one in her weight class.
“It’s a bit exciting I can tell you that,” she said. “It’s a great sport. It teaches you a lot.”
She said she started wrestling because she was forced to by her older brothers, Isaac (a high school wrestling standout who suddenly passed away at age 18 from an unknown condition) and Noah (a Hamilton Bronc who graduated in 2020).
“I started in the fifth grade and initially because they made me, but I gradually started to like it and qualified for Little Guys in seventh grade,” Hurst said. “I now continue with it because it brings back the good memories with my oldest brother. He passed away in 2017. He loved it and I grew to love it too.”
She said wrestling teaches skills that can be applied to all of life.
“It teaches you to be humble, manage things well and to put yourself into other people’s shoes,” Hurst said. “It is really a good sport that’s fun too.”
She has been competing as a Bronc under Williams for three years.
“We’ve always sought out other girls for her to wrestle, even if she had to wrestle heavier girls,” Williams said.
This is the first year for girls wrestling in Montana and the first year for Hurst to have other girls on the Bronc team. She credits the improvement to the Montana High School Association.
“I believe that with Montana establishing girls wrestling it inspires more girls to try it,” Hurst said. “Now they’re not always having to wrestle guys. On my team there are more girls. It is big for us. We’re all doing really well.”
Good diets, good metabolism and positive thinking are key factors to wins.
“I like influencing people,” Hurst said. “I like to show that there is always an opening to something new and you can always be good at anything you try.”
Girls are wrestling at matches all the time but the only time it is girls-only is if a school can schedule it. HHS has been to one all-girls match, will go to another on Tuesday and will try to host one next year.
Hurst has wrestled guys all her life but said she enjoys wrestling girls more.
“I don’t know why exactly but I love wrestling someone who is funky like me and has the ability to flex and get off their back so oddly, not muscle-wise but flexibility,” she said. “It’s more challenging and more fun to work with.”
At the recent all-girls wrestling mixer at Cascade (Great Falls) on Jan. 26, Hurst took on the toughest girl and won by pinning her in the second period.
Williams said that Hurst is special in her performance and attitude.
“There is no quit,” he said. “Right off the bat, I could tell there was something special about her by just how hard she worked. She works as hard as the other guys in the room and she’ll whip a lot of the other guys. She usually takes her opponents down on the first round, even on the matches she loses.”
Williams said that against boys she usually gets the first takedown.
“When the guys get on top it comes down to what I call biology, they are simply stronger,” Williams said. “That has not deterred her, she’s done well enough to hold a varsity spot on the team at 113/120. She wants to be challenged so will wrestle any guy. The guys don’t take her for granted either.”
He said that when she wrestles stronger boys she is not deterred or intimidated.
“She wrestles 113/120 in the varsity spot and can be counted on to produce big wins for us against good opponents,” Williams said.
This year there will be no divisional tournament for the girls, but they will have a state tournament Feb. 19–20 at Lockwood High School (east Billings).
“It is for all classes AA, A and BC,” Williams said. “So, all schools in Montana will send their girls to this state championship.”
Hurst said she is excited for an all-girls wrestling state tournament.
“I can’t wait to see all the girls competing,” she said. “There are so many girls wrestling now that there’s a girls-only wrestling season. Wow! I want to see it proceed and grow bigger. I’m excited to see where I go too.”
Williams said the biggest challenge to wrestling this year has been COVID precautions.
“We can only do duals so there can only be three teams in a school, but they must stay separated,” he said. “When we do our mixer matches, we can only have 40 wrestlers in a gym at a time. They are only allowed to wrestle two matches a day. They have to change out and shower between matches and we’ve got to do all the cleaning and temperature checks.”
Williams said the Bronc Wrestling Team numbers are down, due to COVID concerns.
“My numbers are the lowest I’ve seen them in almost 20 years of coaching with wrestling,” he said. “We’re missing some key players but the upside to having a smaller team is that I get to spend more one-on-one time with each wrestler, focusing on their techniques.”
The Broncs are a young team this year with one senior, lots of juniors and four girls.
“Guys will wrestle for you if they respect you and have a lot of ego, but girls have zero ego and if they trust you, they’ll do it. If you explain a move to a guy, they say ‘I don’t like it, I won’t do it.’ But if you explain it to a girl they say ‘why’ but then do it and want to perfect the technique.”
Hurst said after high school she is considering two things she finds interesting; real estate or a career in the medical field.
“I love anatomy class, that really got me,” she said. “Marie Antonioli taught my health 1 and 2 and anatomy classes, she is awesome. I learned so much from her and love the class. It is very intriguing; the body just fascinates me.”