THOMPSON FALLS — The Montana high school all-class state wrestling tournament is now just two weeks away in Billings, and it could be a special one for Thompson Falls High School as senior Trae Thilmony is looking to become the first-ever three-time state wrestling champion for the Blue Hawks.
Thilmony, who was a standout on the Blue Hawks' 2021 state champion football team, is a wrestler by trade, and at a young age, he knew that's exactly what he wanted to do.
"Wrestling has always been my sport," Thilmony said. "My parents tell the story when I was two years old and I was crying in a Wal-Mart because they wouldn't buy me wrestling shoes. And they bought me shoes but they were about three sizes too big but I eventually grew into them and I love wrestling."
Not only has he filled those shoes, but he's about to leave Thompson Falls with shoes of his own that will be tough to fill for those coming up.
After taking third as a freshman in the 113-pound weight class at the State B-C wrestling tournament, Thilmony won state wrestling titles as a sophomore at 120 pounds and as a junior at 132 pounds, and last year he dethroned Eureka's Gunnar Smith who was on the cusp of winning his fourth title.
Chasing that tougher competition throughout his career is a key driving motivation for Thilmony.
"I think the biggest thing is just finding competition. Ever since I was young, we had a club here and we'd travel all around the country trying to find the best competition and that's how you get better," Thilmony said. "And that's kind of how I've been going through my high school career."
Finding that competition, along with wrestling year-round across the country, Thilmony has seen his dreams from a young age now become reality as he's grown in the sport.
Now at 145 pounds this season, Thilmony is 31-1 on the year and looking to make school history for the Blue Hawks.
His father Mike is also his coach, and Mike said Trae's work ethic and passion are unparalleled.
"I think we've just enjoyed the ride and it's definitely going to be tough and emotional for me as that comes to an end this year because it's just been special all the way through elementary and junior high and high school and coaching him at the high school level has been special," Mike said. "He's just a special kid."
Trae's goal is to continue working to his third title, but he has even bigger aspirations after high school. He wants to wrestle in college with a few offers on the table, and he will weigh those options after the state tournament.
But in the immediate, it's about finishing the journey as a Blue Hawk.
"There's a lot of people who have helped get me here, a lot of people I need to thank," Trae said. "There's people behind the scenes that I don't even know about probably. There's people that have helped me get to where I am and I want to give back to as much as possible."