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Wrestling

Flathead Wrestlers Extend Duals Winning Streak to 70

The Brave Brawlers won its third consecutive Class AA Duals victory in Great Falls on Sunday

By John Letasky for 406mtsports.com

Flathead won its third consecutive Class AA Duals boys wrestling championship on Saturday at the Great Falls High School Fieldhouse.

The Braves extended their duals win streak to 70 in a row with a 37-29 victory over Billings Senior in the championship match. Flathead improved to 19-0 in duals this season.

Flathead didn’t have the opportunity to compete the previous weekend at the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic in Missoula as the frigid weather that swept the state kept the Braves at home.

“Oh boy, it was a fun day to be a Brave Brawler. We really wrestled well and really feel like the guys are improving. We are seeing gains in technique and conditioning,” Flathead coach Jeff Thompson told The Billings Gazette and 406mtsports.com in a phone interview.

“We didn’t get a chance to go to the Rocky last week and maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Maybe they got to get some rest and healed up. I am super excited to see how the guys do the next three weeks to get ready for state.”

In winning their 70th straight dual, the Brave Brawlers remain third in state history for consecutive victories. According to the MHSA record book, Butte won 112 straight duals from 1981-89.

Sidney claimed 76 straight wins from 1986-92. Missoula Hellgate is fourth with 64 straight wins from 1976-80. Flathead’s win totals aren’t entered in the MHSA record book yet.

Thompson said Flathead’s last duals loss was 51-12 to Great Falls in the 2019-20 AA Duals championship.

Flathead defeated Great Falls 45-19 in the semifinals. In the second round, the Braves knocked off Billings Skyview 48-15. Flathead opened with a 76-0 triumph over Bozeman.

Thompson praised Great Falls schools officials for the work they do in hosting the AA Duals.

“I love the team concept. That is something we really try to incorporate as a program,” said Thompson. “You look at the AA tournament, it takes a full team and the wrestlers have to have buy in. It adds a little more strategy. Coaches do homework and move some guys and figure out a good matchup for their team. It is a lot of fun. You see the teams jumping up and down and giving high-fives and it has that family feel.

The fans love it, too. They get to watch everybody on the team wrestle from the lightest guy to the biggest guy and everybody in between and they are not sitting around for four or five hours to watch their son and daughter wrestle.”

Flathead finished second at the event in the first season it was held in 2008-09. The Braves were also second in 2009-10, 2016-17, 2017-18, and 2019-20.

Thompson said the team was enjoying the victory on the bus ride home.

“I’m at that age I’m trying to soak it in and build a relationship with the guys,” he said. “I love to be around the energy of this team and coaching staff and it’s keeping me young.

“We had quite a few undefeated guys. We had a chance to wrestle 19 different guys. That makes it fun, too.”

Senior — which won the AA Duals in 2015-16 and was second in 2021-22 — is now 15-4 in duals this year.

The Broncs opened with a 73-0 win over Missoula Big Sky and toppled Butte 45-27 in the second round. Senior then edged crosstown rival and defending State AA champion Billings West 33-32 in the semifinals.

“We wrestled very well. We were very competitive,” said Broncs coach Josh Beeman in a phone interview with The Gazette and 406mtsports.com. “It was a great day, a great day. We won a lot of tight matches that could go either way. We really didn’t lose any. It was an all-around a great team day.”

Beeman said he is happy with his team’s progression at this point of the season.

“We always, our motto is February matters and I just know we are on the right trajectory,” said Beeman. “We knew we had a shot coming in. We are just trying to make sure we are wrestling our best in three weeks.”

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