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Ronan girls wrestling relishing in back-to-back state titles

State wrestling championship matches
Posted at 5:56 PM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 19:56:19-05

RONAN — The Ronan High School girls wrestling program is still in its early years of existence, but the Maidens have already established themselves as one of the best in Montana, winning their second consecutive state championship earlier this month.

"I wouldn't say it's a long time coming just because girls are new, but I mean our community has backed us for a long time," said senior Katie Dolence. "And this town has such deep roots in wrestling families and everything like that."

And those roots will undoubtedly continue growing as the girls wrestling program thrives off of its success.

"It means a lot when you think about how the future girls talk to us and how those middle schoolers look up to us," Dolence said with a smile. "And it makes you feel a lot more special."

One of the team's two individual champions, Tirza TwoTeeth, claimed her second title at 235 pounds in as many years.

"It felt great, it was really nice," said TwoTeeth. "All the work we've been spending the year on and it's paying off."

And the effects of the program's back-to-back state titles have been felt by all members of the team and the community.

"I thought it was inspiring that we did it both years," said TwoTeeth. "Even the first year was inspiring that we're such a small school."

The team's other individual champion was freshman River Cote at 100 pounds. Even though high school girls wrestling is still young, she’s been on the mat for eight years.

"Everyone in my family wrestles, and then I never really liked wrestling when I was younger," said Cote. "And then my dad always just mentioned it and then I decided when I was in third grade I wanted to."

Although wrestling most of her life, Cote knew there was something different when she stepped into her first high school practice.

"There was a good group of girls," said Cote. "And just like the energy in there, it was there."

The team consists of both ends of the spectrum when it comes to wrestling experience, as sophomore Leona Dodsonhowe never wrestled before last year. But in only her second season she placed third at state.

"It's been really empowering knowing that I come from a strong team," said Dodsonhowe. "And a team that where we like put a lot of work into it, and it's really, really nice."

Even with the tremendous success the last two years, the appetite for winning hasn’t diminished in the slightest.

"Just depending on who else we recruit for next year to join wrestling because a couple seniors are leaving," said Dodsonhowe. "So I think we'll win next year and the year after that."