With the conclusion of this season’s latest State swim meet and State wrestling tournament, now is the time to recap the highlights of the local Helena-area competitors.
Romero retains State mat title, CHS places seventh
At the State wrestling tournament in Billings, junior Isaac Romero of Helena High became a two-time state champion, pinning Bozeman’s Jaiden James in the 113-pound finals in 5:51.
It was his fourth staple in as many matches in Rimrock Auto Arena’s MetraPark, earning him the tourney’s Class AA Quick Pin award.
Romero, who garnered last year’s 103 title, finished the season with a sparkling 38-3 record, with 23 pins. He did not lose to a Montana AA wrestler this year.
Capital High placed seventh in the team standings with 112 points, spearheaded by six all-staters, while Helena came in 12th at 63 points.
The Bruins were led by senior Travis Schulte, who placed runner-up at 145 pounds. Schulte posted a season record of 39-9, and finished at 106-53 for his career.
CHS sophomore Tyler Coddington - who was winning his semi-finals match 4-1 before losing to his Bozeman opponent due to a "potentially dangerous injury default" - placed third at 120 pounds. Seth Jensen finished fourth at 205, Lee Lambrecht and Justin Jenks each placed fifth, at 138 pounds and heavyweight, respectively. Freshman Hayden Azure came in sixth at 120.
“We had a great season,” Capital coach Jeff Mahana said. “I’m so proud of my young kids getting to state and competing and I’m also happy that Travis got the opportunity to wrestle for a championship. … He had a great career for us.”
Also reaching the finals for coach John Burke’s HHS’ matmen was Austin Murphy, who pinned Carter Carroll (CMR) in the semi’s before placing second at 126. The Bengal skipper described Murphy’s matches on the way to the chipper as “dominant physical performances.”
He wound up 34-12 on the season, and leaves the program with a lifetime mark of 104-55. Murphy and Schulte are both three-time all-staters.
"I was extremely proud of Isaac and Austin this weekend," Burke said. "Isaac was dominant on his way to his second title. Austin capped off a stellar career at Helena High with his 2nd place finish."
Jefferson, Townsend matmen place 10-11 at State B/C
Jefferson High placed 10th at the State Wrestling Tournament, tallying 75 points, finishing just ahead of 11th-place Townsend, at 65.5 points.
Coach Troy Humphrey’s Panthers boasted three all-state grapplers, led by B/C runner-up Nate Brunett. Brunett – a two-time all-stater and 3-time conference champion – reached the finals in the 160-pound class.
But he was knocked unconscious during the bout and was forced to injury default and finished second. Brunett finished the year with a fine 36-7 mark, with 28 pins. He leaves the school with a career record of 103-45, with 92 pins.
JHS teammate Nick Workman placed fifth at 205, and Jacob Travis was sixth at 138.
Panther’s 103-pounder, freshman Emma Brown, became the first girl in school history to win a match at state, when she pinned Asa Reynolds (Columbus) in Round 2 of consolations and qualified for Saturday’s “Blood Round.”
Bulldogs coach John O’Dell’s grapplers had a pair of all-staters, with Kameron Rauser (39-6) placing third at 152 pounds for his second trip to the podium in a many years, and Easton Held taking fifth at 126.
HHS boys fourth at State swimming
The Helena High boys missed a third-place trophy by a single point at the State swim meet in Great Falls, placing fourth with a score of 124 points. Flathead High was third at 123. Helena’s girls and Capital’s girls placed sixth and seventh, respectively, while the Bruin boys finished 14th.
Both teams are coached by Julie Shannon.
Leading the way for the Bengal boys was freshman Robert Wagner, who garnered runner-up in the 100-yard butterfly and placed fourth in the 100 backstroke.
Teammates Parker Keller placed third in the 100 breaststroke, and Christion Goetz was fifth in the 500 free.
On the girls’ side, Helena’s Franny Redpath was the state runner-up in the 100 butterfly and took fourth in the 200 IM as well. Emma Krattiger came in sixth in the 50 freestyle.
Maija Geier of Capital was sixth in the 100 backstroke.
In the relays, HHS’ boys placed third in the 200 medley relay and sixth in the 200 free relay. The Bruins girls finished sixth in the 200 free relay.
Former Helena High swimmer Jesse Ecklund of Missoula Hellgate placed runner-up the girls 200 freestyle.