COLUMBUS -- Shepherd’s wrestling team hasn’t come away from the state tournament with a trophy in more than 20 years. 1999 was the last time the Mustangs brought hardware home, and that was second place. This year’s team may not come away with a trophy either, but they’re building a foundation for the future.
“Coach Reichenbach is a great coach," 205-pound wrestler Gage Schmitt said. "He’s tough on you, but at the same time he knows how to bond with you. That’s helped me a lot this season I know.”
Brian Reichenbach was a state champion wrestler at Billings Skyview in the early 2000s, and his first assistant job was where else? Shepherd. After plenty of turnover in recent years, the Mustangs look to have found their man, and his kids are exuding confidence.
“It’s been a lot of different styles of coaching that we’ve had, but this coach is working just a lot at getting the moves you’re good at, putting them together and using them to beat the kids that we’re wrestling," said Nate Gorham, 2019's runner-up at 182 pounds.
Shepherd had a strong showing at the Columbus Invitational over the weekend with three individual champions, but the depth isn’t quite there to hang with the top teams in the division. Along with Gorham, Langdon Schmitt was a returning placer, having finished fifth at 103 pounds last year. Those state tournament performances have been eating at the Mustangs.
“I hit the weight room a lot more," Schmitt said. "I’ve just been working at all my sports a lot harder wanting to be at the top.”
“I get mad at myself. I feel like I should have tried harder than I actually did," Gorham said. "It just made me mad that I didn’t put up more of a fight so I’ve been working harder towards trying to get first this year.”