HELENA -- The 2017 high school wrestling season gets underway Saturday in the Bears' Den as Capital High hosts the 14th annual Capital City Duals.
There are seven teams competing in the event, including defending State champion Flathead, Bozeman, Missoula Big Sky, Glacier, Butte, Helena High and Capital. Both local schools will wrestle three matches, while some of the visitors will have four. The first whistles are scheduled for 10 a.m.
The Bengals and Bruins placed fourth and fifth respectively at the state tournament last year. Helena crowned three AA champions for the first time since 2012, while CHS posted the third top-5 State showing in school history.
Host Capital, under third-year coach Jeff Mahana, returns four all-staters to the mats this winter, led by fourth-place finishers Carson Shuman, a senior, and sophomore Tyler Coddington. Shuman went 21-18 in the heavyweight division last year, with 19 pins. Coddington finished at 22-8 as a freshman in the 113-pound class.
Also making all-state were junior Seth Jensen and senior Travis Schulte. Jensen placed fifth in the 205 division, and went 29-10 with 17 pins. Schulte garnered his second all-state citation with a sixth-place showing at 145. He posted a 25-7 record with 14 pins, and moves to 67-42 (34 pins) for his career.
The rest of the returning Bruins with winning records last year are junior Lee Lambrecht, 16-13 at 132/138, and a career mark of 53-26 (17 pins); junior Nolan Dulaney was 9-7 at 113; and senior Justin Jenks went 8-6 at 205. Lambrecht and Jensen were voted team co-captains.
There are three returning HHS all-staters for ninth-year coach John Burke, paced by defending State titlist Isaac Romero, a junior.
Last year, Romero became just the sixth Bengal sophomore matman to win a championship, joining Shawn Budke (1984), Ryan Frankforter (1992), Tucker Erickson (2010), Grant Boggs (2011) and Gabe Schroeck (2012). He went 33-4 with 14 pins at 103 pounds, and now stands at 59-18 (25 pins) for his career.
Junior Devin Crawford and senior Austin Murphy placed third and fifth, respectively, as both captured their second all-state medals. Crawford posted a 30-11 mark at 132, and moves to 65-23 (25 pins) for his career. Murphy went 26-13 at 120, and is 69-43 lifetime.
Tabbert -- who will miss the first part of the season as he recovers from football injuries -- was 30-11 at 138. He earned 2016 all-state honors as a sophomore, and owns a lifetime mark of 69-46. Tabbert and Zach LaPier are Helena's senior co-captains.