BILLINGS — Seconds after Bozeman’s Leif Schroeder pinned Flathead’s Fin Nadeau, he backfilipped off the mat in celebration with a grin on his face.
The junior was now a three-time state titlist and his team, well, they’re State AA wrestling team champions, the first time since 2011. The Hawks finished with 260.5 points on Saturday at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, with Great Falls High coming in second with 197.5 and Billings Senior rounding out the top-three with 179 and the third-place trophy.
Wrestlers compete in the championship round of the state wrestling tournament at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
“I just think this weekend, I had a lot of emotions, the team title and how hard I worked this year and how it’s paid off,” Schroeder, the Class AA quick-pin winner, said. “I haven’t felt this good before. It feels really good.”
Bozeman finished with 12 placers and two state champs. Senior Chance McLane capped his career off with a third state title, pinning Great Falls’ Caden Hilliard in 4:52 to finish off the day.
The Hawks did quite a bit of damage on the backside of the bracket and three of their wrestlers finished in third place. It all added up to what should be a fun bus ride back west.
“It was good man, super excited about, kids did a great job and worked hard,” Bozeman coach Nate Laslovich said. “I’m so proud of Leif and Chance, I think those guys are both phenom wrestlers.”
The Hawks advanced five wrestlers in the finals, with Sterling Quinn (126) falling to Billings Senior’s Matthew DeWitt on a last-second takedown, McCade O`Reilly losing to Butte’s Kameron Moreno via fall at 205 pounds and Tom Walkup losing to Ethan DeRoche in tiebreakers at heavyweight.
DeRoche’s win was part of a day in which the Bison slowly crept upwards in the points standings and expanded the margin between them and Senior.
Great Falls ended with two individual state titles including DeRoche’s — Elijiah Davis took the 182 crown.
“You get different trophies, different sizes, different accomplishments each season,” Bison coach Steve Komac said. “But you’ve also got to judge where you start and where you finish. And, looking at the state tournament a year ago we were quite a ways out.
“We just felt like that if we can accomplish a trophy this year that would be a heckuva accomplishment.”
Not all accomplishments come with trophies, though — just ask Drake and Jace Rhodes. The brothers from Billings West each won a state title with decision victories. Jace, a senior, took the 170-pound crown for his third title, while Drake (103) won his first.
“It’s really cool, it’s always been a dream for both of us to win state titles,” said Drake Rhodes, a freshman. “Never would have though we’d have done it together, but it feels great, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Helena Capital’s Carson DesRosier got a big upset at 120 as he beat Helena senior Isaac Romero to take the state title. The Bruin freshman split his two matches with Romero this season and had an idea of what he needed to do.
DesRosier got out to a fast start with a takedown and near fall points before hanging on for a 5-2 win.
“I just want some ice cream,” DesRosier said. “That was awesome. That was fun. It was just crazy.”
Capital had just one other wrestler in the finals, with Lee Lambrecht ending his high school career with a loss to Senior’s Jahzriel Peak. With the 11-3 major decision, Peak finishes his career with two state titles.
Fellow Bronc Jalen Vladic was downed 9-0 by Great Fall CMR’s Colten Martello in the finals at 103. Helena’s Devin Crawford beat Butte’s Carl Anderson via a fall in 1:02 to win the 160 pound state championship.
Hunter Meinzen topped Kai Stewart (CMR) to give Missoula Big Sky an individual title at 145. Meinzen, who fell to Stewart in overtime at last year’s championships, won 8-7.