HELENA — With the season’s second crosstown wrestling match on the horizon – slated for Friday in Helena High’s Jungle – 5 Questions surveys two wrestlers with similar careers.
Helena’s Austin Murphy and Travis Schulte of Capital are both seniors, and have been appearing in the varsity intra-city mat tilts for four years.
Both wrestlers are ranked No. 2 in the latest coaches poll – Murphy at 126 pounds and Schulte at 145.
Schulte owns a 30-8 record with 14 pins on the year, while Murphy is 27-10 winning 13 by way of the pin. Each grappler is pushing the century mark for career wins with Murphy at 96-53 and Schulte at 97-50 (48 pins).
They are both two-time all-staters as sophomores and juniors. Murphy finished sixth and fifth at the All-Class Tournament in Billings, while Schulte collected two sixth-place state medals.
The state’s top rated grapplers in most weight classes have taken turns beating each other. At 126 and 145, in head-to-head matches against the No. 1s and No. 3s in their respective classes this year, Murphy is 1-3 while Schulte is 1-4.
Both local matmen have podiumed in all three invitational tournaments this season. Schulte placed fifth at the CMR Holiday Classic, third at Bozeman’s LeProwse tourney, and fifth at Missoula’s Beck Rocky Mountain. Murphy finished sixth, fourth and fifth in the same events.
1. Who has the most influence on your wrestling career, and how so?
Murphy: That would have to be my dad, Ray Murphy, because he’s the one that got me in to the sport. He wrestled for Three Forks and coached me with the Bearcats through eighth grade; he’s always been there to motivate me and push me to become better.
Schulte: My grandpa, George Vasilauskas, he was a high school coach in Lawton, Oklahoma, for 20 years. He never pushed me to wrestle when I was young, but when I moved to Helena and started wrestling he was very supportive. He helped me learn to like a sport that’s not easy to stick with. When I go back to my hometown of Cache, Oklahoma, he’s kind of a local celebrity and everyone just calls me Coach V’s kid. It’s just really amazing to see the impact he left and I want to do the same.
2. What is your GPA, who’s your favorite teacher and what’s your favorite subject?
Schulte: My composite is 2.6 but my current GPA for last semester was a 3.2. My favorite teacher would have to be Mrs. (Hollie) Goody, she’s my college algebra and statistic teacher. I enjoy math, but if you have a math teacher that doesn't enjoy teaching math it makes it hard to learn. Goody makes everything interesting by implementing new ways to teach us.
Murphy: A 3.35, and physics, taught by Mrs. (Erin) Hunt.
3. What is your strength on the mat; neutral on your feet, riding on top or from the bottom?
Murphy: I’m best on the bottom. I try not to waste any time and get up and out fast, but I’ve got a different kind of goofy style so it gives me an advantage in all three areas because it’s harder for people to adjust while wrestling me.
Schulte: I would have to say riding on top. I leg ride and I’ve amounted about 15 pins this year. Also, not many people escape while I’m on top. Of my almost 40 matches I’ve only had a few kids escape from bottom, not counting the kids I let up.
4. What are some of your hobbies away from the mat? Any outside winter or summer activities?
Schulte: Um, I kind of just wrestle year round.
Murphy: During the summer I golf a lot, and that’s about it, wrestling and golf.
5. What do you consider the highlights of your crosstown experiences, individually or teamwise?
Murphy: Every crosstown win is special. My most memorable experience would be my freshman year when I won my first crosstown matches.
Schulte: For me, crosstown is just another match, but it’s always nice to have a good match in front of your peers. But teamwise it was an experience when I came in as a freshman and we were not very good. I loved seeing our team progress in the next two years. We became the (third)-ranked team in the state my junior year, and Helena High was (fourth). And that crosstown was packed, there was a lot of hype around it. We may not have won that dual, but it was close and it was just amazing to look back and see how far we had come.