BILLINGS -- Luis Carranza had been a part of Great Falls High wrestling's success over the years, but this weekend was different. Friday at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark marked Carranza's first state tournament as the Mighty Bison head coach.
Saturday marked his first title.
"It was a roller coaster," Carranza said. "We had our highs and we had our lows, but the kids really battled back through that back door, and we knew it was going to be a tough tournament, but we stepped up when we needed to step up. They earned it."
Great Falls High scored 242.5 points to run away with the Class AA team championship, the eighth in program history.
For the second time in as many years, the Bison crowned individual champions in Elijah Davis and Ethan Deroche. The duo became two-time state champions and will be back for their senior campaigns next year.
Great Falls High finished with 13 placers, with Liam Swanson (182 pounds) adding a third-place effort to Davis' and Deroche's medalist honors. Brendan Lockart (160) was also third.
"Collectively we all grew together. We had our highs, for the most part, all year, but we definitely had our lows," Carranza said. "We came together as a coaching staff, as kids, and it helped that we were all on the same page. I think that's what helped us win this state title."
The Bison had all but wrapped up the team title entering Saturday's championship round, but Kalispell Flathead made a late charge, and Billings Senior was within striking distance throughout the weekend. The Braves edged the Broncs by a half-point for second place with three runner-up finishes.
Senior saw Matthew Dewitt (126) and Thomas Klepps (160) win titles to help the Broncs to the third-place team trophy.
The biggest moment of the Class AA portion of the all-class tournaments came during the second match of the night, as Bozeman's Leif Schroeder became the 36th wrestler in Montana history to win a fourth consecutive title.
"I wish that I could do it all over again, I really do," said Schroeder. "These last four years have been something. I've dreamed about it since I was a little kid, I mean, I would shadow wrestle state high school tournaments when I was 6 or 7 years old, so to have that reality now, it blows my mind."
Schroeder sandwiched championships by teammates Avery Allen (132) and Brock Rodrigues (145), while Tom Walkup finished second in the heavyweight class. The Hawks finished with the most finalists and champions in Class AA.
Missoula Big Sky saw a string of three straight finalists, with Hunter Meinzen (152) and Bridger Hall (170) winning titles. Dougie Swanson fell in a tough 5-3 decision to Thomas Klepps of Billings Senior at 160 pounds.
Freshmen also made storylines Saturday, with Kalispell Glacier's Teegan Vasquez and Billings West's Jesse Aarness winning titles at 113 and 120 pounds, respectively.
"It's pretty great, definitely. I always have my family there cheering me on. I just got a call from my brother, he was screaming and yelling in the gym, just super excited for me," Vasquez said of older brother and former Montana two-time champion Trae, who now wrestles at Cal Poly.
"It feels great. I just knew that I had the gas tank to do it, I just had to go out there and do what I do best," said Aarness.
To view the complete results from the Class AA state wrestling championships, please click here. Scroll through the videos above to watch video highlights from around the state.