Helena High and Capital start the journey for a state title this weekend. While both programs hope to have good performances, their goal is to improve each week until the second week of February at the state tournament.
Helena High finished fifth in the state last year sending 16 wrestlers to the tournament. This season, they hope to qualify more, but the Bengals are not resting on last year’s success.
“A couple of state champs last year,” said head coach John Burke. “One is returning and I’ll tell him right now, ‘He hasn’t won anything this year.’”
Nine seniors will help head Coach John Burke try to push a 35-man roster to a team state championship. John Clark wrestles in the 145-weight class and says this year he’s putting the team first.
“Throughout the other years it was like, ‘I could step up if I wanted’”, Clark said. “This year, I have to step up.”
Three miles down the road, Capital sent 16 wrestlers to the Metra Park and earned a ninth place finish last year. This season Coach Jeff Mahana hopes to qualify 20.
“Every week we want to continue to grow,” second-year head coach Jeff Mahana said. “So, evaluate our mistakes and continue to push forward.”
Nick Kunz is Capital’s best chance to win an individual title in Billings. The 120lb senior wrestler placed fifth in 2015 and third in 2016. Kunz performed extra conditioning to improve his stamina and mindset in an effort to claim the top spot.
“Just trying to motivate the team by doing that it motivates me to work harder to set a good example,” Kunz said.
This Saturday, the Bruins and Bengals will participate in the Capital City Duals at Helena High School.