BILLINGS — There are storylines all over the place at the All-Class state wrestling tournaments in Billings, not the least of which are the three wrestlers vying for a fourth consecutive state title.
But for each phenom making history and chasing multiple titles, there are multiple guys who have been grinding year in and year out, making big strides each season hoping to finish their career on top of the podium for the first time.
Valier’s Matt Connelly and Cut Bank’s JR Seewald are two of those veteran seniors. They took their licks as underclassmen, making quick exits at state as freshmen and sophomores.
But they kept coming back, and now they’re in a position to cap their careers with state hardware.
“I want to stand on top of that podium,” said Seewald. “It’s been a goal of mine since the first minute I stepped on top of the mat to be a state champ. A very high priority for me, going to do anything I can.”
“It’s my senior year, so it’s now or never,” Connelly added. “I might as well put in the work, because I’ll never get to do it again.”
Each wrestler captured a Northern B-C title in Cut Bank on Saturday – but they’re far from satisfied. In fact they’ve been working toward this moment this whole season.
“The game has always developed the most is my mental, staying calm throughout matches and collected in close matches,” Seewald said. “Being in the third period in a tight match and being able to squeak it out. Just being able to think better.”
Seewald is ranked number one on Class B-C at 170 pounds, after finishing fifth at state in 2018. The future Montana Tech football player has been spurred on this season by a voice in the crowd.
“To be honest, I can usually hear my mom screaming,” he laughed. “Whatever she’s hollering, it makes a bit of a difference for me.”
Connelly is ranked third at 126 pounds, but isn’t worrying about the guys ranked ahead of him.
“Pretty much going into this weekend, it’s a clean slate, everybody’s the same. You can’t discount anyone,” Connelly said. “Anyone can beat anyone on any given day, that’s what our coaches always say. Just got to go out there with a big heart and get after it, I guess.”