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'Thank God for giving me that fight': Hardin's Miles Wells recounts thrilling state wrestling title

State wrestling championship matches
Posted at 12:38 PM, Feb 11, 2024

BILLINGS — Hardin senior Miles Wells was on the edge of defeat in Saturday's Class A state championship wrestling match at 160 pounds.

In fact, a referee smacked the mat with Wells on his back, seemingly ending his season as a runner-up to Columbia Falls sophomore Blaise Cronk, but after a quick meeting between officials it was determined that Wells was out of bounds and had new life.

"Just give me another chance," Wells said of what was going through his head at that moment. "I won't let that happen. I'll come back and fight if I have to. I looked up and the other ref reversed it and said I was out, so I just thought in my head to just let me have one more chance. It was my last wrestling match ever and I didn't want to go out like that."

Wells still faced an uphill battle, though. He trailed 9-4 at one point and had to repeatedly take down Cronk and cut him free to make up the deficit in the match's final period, but he just needed that little spark of hope before ultimately winning by sudden victory.

"I knew it was going to be a dogfight, going to come down to who wants to work harder in that third period and overtime," Wells said. "I'm happy I won and came out on top in that one, but another day he could have came out on top. I thank God for giving me that fight to come out here and win that match."

Wells, a Rocky Mountain College football commit, almost missed the opportunity for a state championship altogether after an injury to his sternum at the Tom LeProwse meet in Bozeman earlier this year, finally returning at the Eastern A divisional tournament.

"I was wrestling Dylan Block of Great Falls, who just got second on the (Class AA) mat next to me. He ended up throwing me right on my side, and I felt the pain right away. I wrestled two more matches after that and came back and got third. Went to the doctor and said it was fractured," Wells said. "I was devastated. I didn't know when I was going to be back. (The doctor) told me 10-12 weeks, and I told her I didn't want to do that. I want to come back. ... Like I said, it was my last two tournaments ever, so I wanted to come out and wrestle one last time."

Wells fought his way back from injury for a chance, then dug himself out of the depths to become a state champion.