HAMILTON — Two-time state wrestling champion Jace DeShazer might as well wear a cape and mask in Libby.
“I help out at two different clubs we have in Libby with the younger kids as soon as my season is over or even some days after my practices. And it's just, I mean, they think I'm a superhero,” the senior 205-pound wrestler said. “It's so much fun. They listen to me, they're easy to coach and they just learn, get better. It's awesome to see them improving. It's really special to me.”
DeShazer is on the cusp of putting the finishing touches on his own special wrestling career. He’s won state titles each of the past two years and is heading into this year’s finale with an undefeated record and his sights on a third championship.
“I'm just hoping to accomplish getting one more, you know, try to keep my wrestling under — I think I had 3 minutes, 56 seconds last year — try to get lower than that. Quick Pin Award at state, that's always been a big goal,” DeShazer said.
DeShazer won all four of his bouts by fall en route to the 2023 205-pound gold medal. Wrestling at 182 pounds as a sophomore in 2022, he won three of his four matches by fall.
And he just pinned four opponents in a combined 3:16 at last week’s Western A divisional tournament to enter this year’s state tournament 39-0.
“Undefeated is just, at the end of the day it's just another season, you know? There’s nothing special about it,” DeShazer said. “I just wrestle like I always would.”
DeShazer brings a joy to the mat, and he’s built easy-to-see friendly relationships with his foes.
“Most of them are pretty nice, it’s not very hard to get along with them,” he said. “I mean, it's good sportsmanship, don’t say anything bad, don’t try to hurt people. Not too hard to do.”
DeShazer, who has signed to play college football at Montana Western, has gotten even better this year, working on skills to improve his techniques whether wrestling from the top or the bottom. That year-to-year growth has helped DeShazer get to the edge of rare air. On Saturday, not only could he become a three-time state champion, he could do so at heavier weights where sustained success is typically hard to come by.
“Age and size can't mean a lot to you if you want to be great at this,” he said. “You can't worry about how big somebody is, how tall somebody is. You just got to worry about wrestling your style and just keep that in mind all the time.”
DeShazer and 11 of his Libby teammates will take the mats at the Class A state wrestling tournament Friday at First Interstate Arena at MetraPark in Billings.