Mayson Phipps knows it's his time to step up and deliver.
The Glasgow senior heavyweight wrestler and future Montana Tech football player has been on the cusp of a state title each of the past two years, but he ran into some remarkably stiff competition that kept him from the top of the podium.
Phipps placed third as a sophomore behind champion Trey Yates of Colstrip and Huntley Project's Journey Grimsrud. As a junior, Phipps was able to overcome Yates, but Grimsrud kept him from the gold medal once again. Those two are off playing NCAA Division I football now, setting the stage for Phipps to end his high school wrestling career on top.
"I think it's prepared me. Those kids were some of the best kids in the state," Phipps said of Grimsrud and Yates. "They're strong, they're athletic. One is at (Montana State), one is at the (University of Montana). They're big-time deals. They're good kids. They're strong."
The semifinal loss as a sophomore to Yates and the loss in last year's title match to Grimsrud served as added motivation for Phipps, who attacked the offseason with one goal in mind: become an individual state champion.
With the likes of teammates Dylan Nieskens and Cooper Larson, both individual champions in 2020 as part of Glasgow's team title, in the wrestling room, the intensity level is at an all-time high. Phipps, though, hasn't necessarily had someone his size to bang with in practice, but that's changed this year with a highly regarded freshman joining the mix.
"He started last spring when we went in quarantine. He moved a weight set into his garage and he got after it. I think he's a self-motivator. I don't have to do a whole lot for him. He wrestles in a tough corner of our room, too, so that helps him," Glasgow head wrestling coach Jory Casterline said. "We've got a freshman, Kohl Kittleson, he's gotten thrown to the wolves a little bit. He's down in the corner with three state finalists. We've got good guys to wrestle, our heavyweight coach, coach Kittleson, he jumps in with them, too. So there's a lot of good matches when we go live. Lot of fighting going on down there."
"It's hard. It pushes you harder to be better than everybody else. When you've got Dylan Nieskens, Cooper (Larson), they're all really good guys. They push me because they're so good," Phipps said. "I want to be a state champ this year. ... I think this year is the year I'll be able to get it."
Phipps has been the king of Class B heavyweights so far in 2021. He is 23-1 this year, with that lone loss coming to Class A's top-ranked heavyweight Brodey Skogen of Sidney. Phipps is hoping that his offseason preparation and early season success parlay themselves into a state title in March.
The Class B-C wrestling tournament is scheduled to take place in Shelby March 5 and 6.