BILLINGS — There are season-ending goals he is focused on. But Brock Bushfield has also learned to enjoy the journey.
The Billings Skyview senior is having a memorable final year in high school. He was a two-way starter for the Falcons football team at quarterback and strong safety and was second-team all-state on defense and honorable mention at quarterback.
Bushfield also had memorable hunting trips this fall, which brought a smile to his face when talking about one of his favorite hunting spots in the Red Lodge area. Along the way, Bushfield was also named the king of Skyview's TWIRP formal. And, now, the two-time state champion and one-time runner-up enters his final season of high school wrestling.
One of the highlights of the football season was a Hail Mary Bushfield uncorked to receiver Dalton Macy on the final play of the game in Great Falls to upset Great Falls CMR.
"It's been really fun and it is going by fast, though," Bushfield said of his senior year. "Football was super enjoyable and it was good to have some close games. We had a fun team; my teammates were super fun. We were a very close group of guys."
On the mat, Bushfield has put together a stellar won-loss record of 116-8 for the Falcons, including State AA championships at 152 pounds in each of his first two seasons. Last year, Bushfield was 36-1 with his lone loss coming in the state championship match.
Helena's Noah Manibusan, whom Bushfield had dramatically defeated the year before when he trailed 9-1 before a applying the crossface cradle to win the title by fall, fought off the cradle and won the state title 8-6 over Bushfield.
At the time, the loss was devastating for Bushfield.
"Obviously, it was super tough through the whole tournament," he recalled. "I was super nervous. It was the end of the year and I hadn't lost. I wanted to win three in a row. All the pressure built up and I didn't wrestle my best match."
Bushfield thought about the loss, but his father and Skyview assistant coach Brett Bushfield was able to help him get past it. Brett Bushfield was a state champion at Eureka his senior year of high school and has been taking his son on wrestling trips since Brock was a youth wrestler.
"You look back and it sucks, but there is no point looking back on it," Bushfield, who will wrestle at 160 pounds this year, said. "My dad said, 'You have to learn from your mistakes and move on.'
"It's my last year. I'll go out every match and enjoy it and enjoy being with my teammates and coaches."
Skyview coach Joe Malchuski's two sons Joe and Jake, both of whom are now graduated from Skyview, are friends with Bushfield. The two families have gone fishing and hunting together. Joe Malchuski remembers traveling to wrestling tournaments where Jake and Brock competed for state titles against each other. The coach knows Bushfield well. Malchuski explained that losses can hit a high school student-athlete hard, Bushfield included, but that the senior still "enjoys having the spotlight on him."
Malchuski, along with Bushfield's teammates, said one of the senior's biggest contributions is his leadership capabilities.
"He's a silent leader. He doesn't say a whole lot and is a workhorse in the room," Malchuski said. "When he comes in he has a mission and goal in mind and that never changes for him. Since he was a freshman, he's had a blue collar work ethic and looks to win a state title every year."
Austin Carothers, a senior 145-pound wrestler for Skyview, is one of Bushfield's practice partners. He said being Bushfield's practice partner brings many positives, with the most important probably being how it elevates Carothers' skills. Working alongside Bushfield for four seasons, Carothers said his teammate's knowledge of wrestling stands out.
"He's very focused and mentally tough," Carothers said. "He knows he'll win or try his hardest to get the W. He goes out there aggressively. A lot of kids go out for the match and they aren't ready, or they're nervous. Brock is out there ready to kill."
Senior Bridger Lamb (120) agreed with Carothers' assessment of Bushfield. Both Lamb and Carothers also said Bushfield is a crucial part of the Falcons' dual lineup. If Skyview is going through a tough stretch in a dual, the Falcons know they can count on Bushfield to turn the tide.
"I look up to him, definitely," Lamb said. "He's a no-nonsense kind of kid and very intense when it comes to wrestling. It's all mental to him and he makes up his mind and goes out there and does it."
While Bushfield plans on savoring every moment of his senior year, he does have a plan.
"Obviously it's a goal, but it's not my only focus," he said of a state championship. "I'll take it one match at a time. I want to work for a state title, but I don't want that to be my only focus throughout the season. Taking it one match at a time, I'll be consistent during the season and progress throughout the season."