Wrestlers ready for state competition
February 10, 2022
It all comes down to this. Eleven Sanders County wrestlers are making the journey east this week to the Montana All-Class State Wrestling Tournament at MetraPark in Billings. For three of those wrestlers, these will be the final matches of their high school careers.
If you've never been to a state wrestling tournament, it should be on your bucket list. The atmosphere is comparable to what I imagine it's like to be at the Olympics. There's a parade of athletes. There are thousands of people cheering in the arena. There are tears of joy, and tears of defeat.
These 11 Sanders County athletes will have fans cheering in the stands, but those fans aren't just their families and teammates. Former Thompson Falls coaches Tom Holleran and Shawn Allen have missed very few state tournaments since they quit leading the Hawks.
For Thompson Falls senior Trae Thilmony and Plains senior Taylor Angle, this will also be the last of a special bond between father and child that has lasted more than a decade. Both of the schools' head coaches, Mike Thilmony with the Blue Hawks and Shane Angle with the Savage Horsemen, have coached their children in wrestling since they were toddlers. As Trae and Taylor look to win their respective brackets in Billings, they will have their fathers in their corners for what will likely be the last time.
The Blue Hawks and Savage Horsemen girls will be competing in their first state tournament at the Metra alongside the boys. Taylor Angle, Lily MacDonald and Brynn Courville will represent Plains as Desani and Veronica Bewick compete for Thompson Falls.
David Schulze of Plains won the division title last week in Butte and will compete in state at 138 pounds. Teammate John Waterbury is also ready for the state meet, competing at 126. Schulze qualified for state last year, his first year wrestling in Plains, but didn't place. This year he's looking to make it to the podium.
Joining Thilmony at the state tournament will be junior Elijah Ratliff, who won the division title at 152 pounds, and senior Shane Reishus of Noxon and sophomore Max Hannum, who each placed second in their respective weight classes at divisional.
The all-class state wrestling tournament begins Thursday with the first rounds for the girls. As there is no qualifying tournament for the girls, any girl who has competed during the season can compete at state, making for some larger, fuller brackets at state. Friday will commence with the opening ceremonies, and the boys will see their first competition. The championship rounds are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Fans can follow the state tournament action on the Track Wrestling website or NFHS Network.