MISSOULA – As 2017 comes to a close, we reflect on some of the most incredible, unique and inspiring stories of the past year. Last February we saw history made at Montana’s high school wrestling state championships.

Once upon a time, the Kalispell Flathead Braves were a force to be reckoned with. They took the team title in 2004 and again in 2006. The Braves dominated in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Then head coach Jeff Thompson left.

Cut to last year, Thompson returned to Kalispell Flathead and, in February, 22 Braves qualified for the state showdown in Billings, including a history-making moment: Tylinne Vasquez became the first female wrestler to ever place at the State AA meet in Montana.

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The Braves utterly destroyed the competition at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings last February; the team came in first by more than 60 points.

Eureka’s Lions also dominated among the Class B and C teams, coming in first by 34 points.

“You put in all that hard work,” said Thompson. “The three months here that we put into this, for some of these kinds since they were 4 or 5 years old, and to come home with a state championship, you just can’t put words on it. It’s just something so special. We are excited, excited to bring a trophy back to Kalispell. Flathead High School is known as a wrestling school again and it’s just incredible.”

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