BILLINGS — Austin Ketchem sure knows how to celebrate a birthday.

The Billings Skyview junior started his celebration a night early on Tuesday at the Skyview gym when he pinned Billings Senior's Burke Steppe in 10 seconds at 145 pounds to give the Falcons a dramatic 29-25 Eastern AA wrestling dual victory.

Ketchem turns 17 on Wednesday.

Starting with Cade Kay's dual-opening pin in 43 seconds at 152 pounds Skyview had led the whole dual, until the Broncs' Klepps brothers, Charlie and Thomas, scored back-to-back victories at 132 and 138 pounds to give Senior a two-point lead heading into the final match.

Before Ketchem took the mat, teammates offered him words of encouragement. 

"Just warm up and get ready, you have to have the right mindset, win or lose I'd be fine," Ketchem said. "You have to go out there and give 110 percent. 

"It's an early birthday present for myself. Nothing is better than wrestling when my birthday is tomorrow."

Skyview coach Joe Malchuski acknowledged Ketchem came through for his team. Malchuski also gave credit to Trent Helman, who won by major decision at 170 and Kay, who started the dual with a fall. Those two victories ignited the Falcons early said Malchuski.

Skyview improved to 8-5 with the win. The Falcons won four of the first six matches, including a major decision by Brock Bushfield (182) and pin by Noah Thomas (285). 

"It was awesome. It was the luck of the draw to start at 152," Malchuski said. "We had a couple wins there that got the ball rolling.

"The guys were pumped up tonight. We lost to them last year and they are a good team. It wasn't a real pretty win. It was more of a war."

Skyview's Caleb Partridge won a 6-4 overtime match at 126 against Jayden Ramirez on a takedown in the extra session. 

The Broncs closed strong, winning five of the last seven matches, including Charlie Klepps' 21-5 technical fall victory at 132 pounds and Cruz Riojas' major decision at 113. Senior is now 9-4 in duals. 

"We wrestled well, just not quite well enough," said Senior coach Josh Beeman. "We had a lot of fight, but they had a little more.

"We've got four weeks left to get to where we want to be. Tonight is motivation. The boys wrestled well and Skyview wrestled better. We can't let people outwrestle us."

The 60th annual Cowboy Invitational is Friday and Saturday in Miles City. 

"We just want to get some more experience under our belt," said Malchuski of the Falcons' plans for the Cowboy. "We want to get our JV guys, our second string, some matches and wins."

Beeman said the Broncs are focused on peaking at the state tournament on Feb. 9-10 at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.

"We will go out and compete as best as we can and improve every weekend," he said.

Email John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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