Harley Yoder owns a television but has no time for video games.

Yoder is a tad busy.

Yoder is the rare high school athlete who is balancing school, work and wrestling while living on his own.

“I can’t stand it when high school kids say they have no time for athletics because they have to work,” Broadus wrestling coach Frankie Schoonover said.

Schoonover then motioned toward Yoder as a prime example of what can be accomplished.

With limited wrestling experience, Yoder has advanced to the Class B-C State tournament 205-pound semifinals for two consecutive years.

Yoder (37-9) will wrestle Joe Fehr (39-3) of Eureka in one semifinal. Defending state champion Hunter Mycke (47-2) of Conrad takes on Colstrip’s Blake Johnston (43-5) in the other.

Yoder pinned his way to the semis a second straight year, with falls of 3:43 and 5:57. A strong 205, Yoder and Dustin Steppler of Columbus-Absarokee crashed into the scoring stand during their quarterfinal match. 

A year ago, Yoder pinned his first two opponents before losing his final matches to finish sixth.

“Last year state, coming here was overwhelming,” he said of the large crowd at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. “This year, it’s good to be back.”

Yoder moved to Broadus from Iowa two years ago to live with a cousin and work construction. He was convinced to return to school by Schoonover.

“I approached him and told him to get back into school and wrestle for me,” Schoonover said.

Yoder wasn’t eligible for football but became eligible for wrestling halfway through the season.

“The first time, everything is new to you,” he said of his new sport.

But Yoder persevered.

“He just has a mental toughness. A strong work ethic,” Schoonover said. “He never complains about anything no matter how hard I would make it in practice. Most kids get frustrated and quit. Not Harley. He works on something until he gets it right.”

Yoder won 18 matches last year.

“At the Cowboy Invitational (in Miles City) last year, he started to get a taste of success and was ready to go another step up,” Schoonover said.

Yoder is part of a work study program at Broadus and attends school until 1:30 p.m. Practice follows and he goes to his job at Broadus Meats if needed.

Yoder is Broadus’ lone representative at the state tournament. The Hawks had five wrestlers on this year’s roster. The closest in weight to Yoder was 170-pounder Logan Desatoff.

“Yeah, it was a challenge,” Yoder said of practices.

Yoder added a running regimen to supplement the high school workouts.

“You run to get in shape and you go to practice to learn the moves,” he said.

And he’s already had his payoff.

“This means a lot,” said Yoder. “Hard work does pay off.”

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High School Sports, Rodeo Reporter

Sports writer for The Billings Gazette.