Brock Bushfield celebrates after winning his second consecutive 152-lb. State AA wrestling title last February. (CASEY CONLON / MTN Sports)

BILLINGS – Skyview is a wrestling institution.

The Falcons have had more success on the mats than in any other sport – to the tune of 20 straight top-four state finishes from 1996-2015 – which is what made last season so strange.

“I think they’re definitely a little bit hot this year, looking to redeem themselves from last year,” said head coach Joe Malchuski. “It was tough to swallow.”

Skyview finished seventh at state last February, with only one individual champion in Brock Bushfield, who took home the 152-pound title for the second straight year, so he knows just how hard it is to repeat.

Story continues below

“It puts a lot of pressure on you,” said Bushfield. “It makes you want to work harder because kids are gunning for you. They’re just going to work twice as hard as they did before.”

But that’s the feeling these Falcons want – a battle every single day, even in practice.

“They know they have to come in every day ready, and battle it out,” said Malchuski. “There are going to be some bumps and bruises. It’s a dogfight between them.”

“We have kids in wrestle-offs that could be varsity in other places,” said Bushfield of his young, hungry teammates. “No spots are just going to get given out, and you’re going to have to work hard for it and work harder than the guy in the room next to you.”

So far, the group mentality is working. The Falcons finished second in the first state-style tournament of the year at Sidney against many of their key competitors.

“We definitely have to improve, but coming up as No. 2, finishing best in Billings, we’re doing well this year,” said 120-pound wrestler Danny Maciel. “There’s a lot more to come.”

“We were definitely disappointed with what happened last year,” admitted Bushfield. “We knew we were going to┬áhave a tough team this year, and we pushed ourselves. We realize now that we actually have a chance at the title.”

But Malchuski has a warning.

“I told them we’re second place,” the coach said, “but we’re far from first place.”