BILLINGS — There were a multitude of exciting storylines surrounding the 2012 All-Class State Wrestling Tournament this weekend in Billings.
But the number four had perhaps the most signifiance and was the story inside the Rimrock Auto Arena at Metra Park.
Chinook senior Ben Stroh became the first of four wrestlers Saturday night to accomplish the feat of winning four consecutive state individual championships. Stroh, who beat teammate Rob Klingaman in the 189-pound championship match, became the 20th Montana prep wrestler to reach the historic milestone, while fellow wrestlers Luke Scholsser of Conrad, Cole Mendenhal of Great Falls and Luke Zeiger reached the same achievement later Saturday evening.
But Stroh was the headliner as he capped off a third-straight perfect unbeaten season by winning his four matcher in Billings, all by pin in a total time of just 3:12. He also furthered his national record of consecutive pins to 104 and in the process, helped Chinook to a fourth-straight Class C state championship.
“It’s been awesome, ” Stroh, who will wrestle at the University of Wyoming said. “It’s an honor to be able to accomplish something like this during your high school career. There’s no better feeling right now. ”
Stroh got help from his friends too. Klingaman and Cord Anderson at 171 pounds scored big points for the Suagrbeeters, while Jorell Jones did everything he expected to do. The senior won his second-straight state championship at 215 pounds, and like Stroh, capped off an unbeaten season.
“I really think Chinook is on the map now as far as wrestling in Montana goes, ” Stroh said. “Everyone who’s come through this program has put in the time and effort to get to this point. I really believe we’re known as a wrestling power around Montana and that’s something we can all be proud of. ”
The Havre Blue Ponies had plenty to be proud of as well Saturday night.
HHS finished third in the Class A meet, just behind champion Corvallis and runner-up Laurel. The Ponies also had two state champions, including Eli Hinebauch at 152 pounds, who like Stroh and Jones, also went undefeated in his senior year. Hinebauch beat Tommy Cooper of Laurel 3-0 in the final bout, while fellow senior Casey Schaub dominated the 189-pound class on his way to his first state championship. Schaub finished a heartbreaking runner-up last season, but wasn’t going to be denied this weekend.
Overall, Havre sent nine wrestlers to the podium, with Grayson Brenna, who’s just a freshman, also reaching the final round before eventually finishing second.
“I’m just really happy we got a trophy, ” Hinebauch said. “Overall, we were a pretty young team, but we had guys step up and battle all weekend. ”
The Ponies have now finished in the top three at the state tournament for what is believed to be 15 straight years.
As a whole, every Hi-Line team had reasons to smile this weekend. Harlem had two wrestlers place fourth in the B-C meet and the Wildcats finished ninth overall. Chester/J-I also placed two grapplers and Big Sandy got two wins as well.