BILLINGS — Arms stretched behind him, Brent Tezak looks at ease.
The two-time defending state champion Dillon wrestler is sitting on a mat in Rimrock Arena during a Thursday evening practice session. He’s talking occasionally to his coaches and teammates, but mostly the senior 160-pounder is quiet.
Already having ran around the arena a bit and gone through a short workout with head coach T.J. Nelson, there’s not a whole lot more Tezak can do to prepare for what could be a date with history.
If he finds himself at the top of the podium on Saturday evening he’ll be the first wrestler to ever win three individual state titles while at Dillon.
Is he thinking about it?
“I try not to,” Tezak said. “I just try to focus on one match at a time.”
Trying and doing are two different things, however, and he says Nelson keeps him in line.
Over the previous three state tournaments Tezak has been able to block out the distractions pretty well. He’s lost just one match at the state meet in his career, a 59 second pin during his freshman season courtesy of Havre’s Grayson Brenna.
That’s one of the only things preventing him from having this season be a shot at four-straight, something only 31 Montanan state wrestlers have done and a list Billings Senior’s Charlie Klepps has a chance to add his name to this weekend.
But for Tezak wrestling for another state championship doesn’t seem to be exclusively about personal glory. He’s humble and he’s thinking bigger than himself.
“I think it would be pretty cool,” Tezak said. “It would be big for the town, for the promotion of the sport in Dillon. Kinda only have a few kids on the team right now, maybe it’ll light a fire under some of the younger kids.”
Tezak will be hard to emulate.
An all-state linebacker, he was part of the Beavers football team that won a state title in 2016. By the time he graduates, Tezak could end up four total state championships in two sports.
“If you told me back in fifth grade this was what I was signing up for, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Tezak said. “It’s been a blessing.”
Balancing football with wrestling isn’t easy and he’s also usually spent three or four weeks of his summers doing wrestling camps, even going to the Disney National Duals in Orlando, Florida. Add that to weight room workouts, practices for both sports, and everything else in his life and it gets to be a pretty full slate.
But Tezak managed to do it and the work he’s put in has impressed everyone.
“He’s put in a lot of time off that mat that a lot of people don’t see,” Nelson said. “When he does come in the room, he’s the hardest worker we have. He does a great job, takes care of his business and is always looking to get better.”
Nelson’s seen that type of determination before.
His brother, Nels, won a state title at Whitehall before winning two more at Dillon and then going on to wrestle at Boise State, where he was an All-American in 1991. So, technically, there has been a wrestler with three individual state titles at Dillon, but as T.J. says with a bit of a laugh, “we don’t count the one from Whitehall for us.”
After this weekend, they just might be able to fully claim a three-time individual state championship winner, something that’s only happened 107 times in Montana high school history.
It won’t be easy, but then again, it’s not supposed to be.
“I have to wrestle smart,” Tezak said. “I’d say that’s just about it.”