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High school wrestling: Returning state champions for the 2023-24 season

Wrestling
Posted at 11:49 AM, Dec 07, 2023

The 2023-24 high school wrestling season got underway last week and kicks into full gear this week with big events like the Jim Street Mining City Duals in Butte, the 28th annual Scottie Invitational in Glasgow and the Flathead Girls Invitational Tournament in Kalispell.

These large early season meets help set the scene for the season, as wrestlers have opportunities to face competition they don't typically see. This year, especially, seems like plenty of new faces will make the leap from state placer to title contender, as 2023 graduated a large group of senior state champions.

One wrestler who is plenty familiar with the state podium is Billings West senior Keyan Hernandez, the lone Montanan trying to become a four-time state champion this winter. Hernandez won the 120-pound Class AA title last year after winning at 113 as a sophomore and 103 as a freshman. He's the No. 1-ranked kid at 126 pounds in the preseason Class AA rankings this year, one spot ahead of Belgrade's Mason Gutenberger, who won the 126 championship last season.

Below is a list of the returning state champions in the classification and weight at which they wrestled last season. Their listed grades are also from the 2022-23 season.

Please email any errors or omissions to sports@ktvh.com.

Class AA

Reigning team champion: Billings West.

103 — Makael Aguayo, fr., Billings West.
113 — Zach Morse, so., Billings West (won 103 as a freshman).
120 — Keyan Hernandez, jr., Billings West (won 113 as a sophomore and 103 as a freshman).
126 — Mason Gutenberger, jr., Belgrade (won 120 as a sophomore).

Class A

Reigning team champion: Columbia Falls.

113 — Logan Barnes, fr., Dillon.
120 — Brody Ketterling, fr., Lockwood.
126 — Cole Krutzfeldt, so., Lockwood.
132 — Reece Graves, so., Sidney (won 113 as a freshman).
138 — Tristan Stygles, jr., Havre.
205 — Jace DeShazer, jr., Libby (won 182 as a sophomore).
Hwt. — Holden Meged, jr., Miles City.

Class B/C

Reigning team champion: Huntley Project.

103 — Baylor Burton, so., Huntley Project.
113 — Timothy Schmidt, fr., Eureka.
120 — Cole Rogers, jr., Three Forks-Ennis (won 103 as a sophomore). Note: Three Forks-Ennis is wrestling in Class A this season.
132 — Riley Davis, jr., Baker.
170 — Max Hannum, jr., Thompson Falls.

Girls

Reigning team champions: Billings Senior (Class AA), Ronan (Class A/B/C). Note: At the 2024 girls wrestling state tournament, team titles will be awarded to the Class AA champion, Class A champion and Class B/C champion.

100 — Angelina Escarcega, so., Poplar (won 103 as a freshman). Note: As a two-time state champion entering her junior year, Escarcega has a chance to become the first four-time state champion in Montana girls wrestling history.
107 — Rebecca Birdwell, so., Lewistown.
114 — Kaura Coles, fr., Kalispell Glacier.
120 — Taylor Lay, fr., Helena Capital.
132 — Lili Schubarth, jr., Simms.
138 — Gretchen Donally, jr., Huntley Project (won 145 as a sophomore).
145 — Kaitlyn Thorn, so., Bozeman.
152 — Trinity Barrus, jr., Custer-Hysham.
165 — KyLee Lindsley, so., Belgrade.
235 — Tirza TwoTeeth, so., Ronan.

Four other wrestlers are trying to get back on top of the podium after winning championships as freshmen and/or sophomores but not in 2023: Elijah Nose of Laurel, Isaac Beardsley of Miles City, Kendal Tucker of Billings Senior and Kaylin Taylor of Great Falls High.

Nose won the 103-pound title as a freshman in 2022 before placing fourth at 113 pounds last season, while Beardsley was the 120-pound champion as a sophomore in 2022 before placing third at 132 pounds last season.

Tucker claimed the girls 152-pound championships her freshman and sophomore years in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, she placed second at 152. Taylor won the girls title at 103 pounds as a freshman in 2021. She placed third at 113 as a sophomore in 2022 and second at 114 in 2023.