Kalispell Flathead ran away with the State AA team title Saturday at the All-Class State Wrestling Tournament at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
The Braves scored 251 points. Second-place Bozeman finished with 189.5. Flathead had 13 state placers in coach Jeff Thompson's first year back at the helm. Thompson has guided the Braves to five state titles, with the other banners coming in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
"It's always fun to win a team title and Flathead High School needs this for our school," he said. "We're going to be known as a wrestling town again."
Thompson said the Braves were disappointed with their championship match outcomes, where Flathead went 0-3.
"It's bittersweet," he said. "We have been preaching the whole year to be a family and team. Maybe we should have preached more on individual success. ... When you have a team with no individual champions, that's the true definition of a team that came together."
• In a championship rematch from a year ago, the outcome was reversed this year and Helena's Noah Manibusan claimed the 160-pound championship with an 8-6 victory over two-time champion Brock Bushfield of Billings Skyview.
Last year, Bushfield won by fall in 2:58 for the 152-pound title. Bushfield trailed 9-1 after the first period before using a crossface cradle to win by pin. This year, Bushfield trailed 8-1 after two but locked the cradle in with 54 seconds remaining. However, Manibusan was able to fight off the pin and hold on for the win. It was Manibusan's first championship and capped his senior season.
"This is my last year and last match ever in high school," Manibusan said. "Better have it as a win."
Manibusan was the classification's quick-pin winner with three falls in 3:54.
Skyview coach Joe Malchuski felt for his junior standout.
"The pressure was on," Malchuski said. "That's the thing about multiple state championships. It's the difference between being the hunter and hunted."
• Flathead 103-pound freshman Tilynne Vasquez became the first girl to place in the Class AA tourney when she finished sixth at 103 pounds after going 3-3 over the two days.
"It feels great. It feels amazing," she said. "I am very proud and blessed to have the team I have that helped me get there."
"It's very, very exciting to have Ti be the first AA state placer," added Thompson.
Vasquez is only the second girl to place in the Montana tourney. In 2014, Abi Gontarek became the first girl to ever place at the Montana state wrestling tournament when competing for Laurel she claimed fifth place in the Class A 98-pound bracket.
• Missoula Sentinel junior Bryar Newbary came back from a disclocated shoulder that required surgery over the summer to capture the 205-pound bracket. Newbary returned a week prior to divisionals for the Garden City Duals.
Newbary won all nine matches he wrestled in this year. He said the goal through all the physical therapy and weight lifting was to win a state title.
"It was in the back of my mind," he said. "It wasn't prevalent until after Christmas when I started working hard."
• Butte's Jeff Queer was second at state last year, losing to Senior's Devin Maua. Queer, agile for a heavyweight, bounced back to end his junior year with a 9-4 championship win over Billings West's Levi Malcolm.
"It's been a goal since I lost," said Queer of winning the championship.
Queer's favorite move is the takedown and it was evident in the championship tilt.
"I like to take them down and let them up," he said. "I don't do it to tech. I just don't feel comfortable riding. I'm better on bottom and neutral and like to stay with what I'm comfortable with."
• Bozeman's Leif Schroeder performed acrobats on the mat after posting an 11-1 major decision over Flathead's Bryce Shaffer.
When asked to recall his celebratory moves, Schroeder said, "I don't even know. It's kind of just a blur."
Said Schroeder of his keys to victory: "Just the hard work I put in throughout the whole year."
Bozeman came to Billings with title hopes, but Schroeder said "You can't be disappointed when you have guys placing.
"Flathead is a really good and very good team this year. They had a lot of tough guys and wrestled a good tournament. Kudos to them."
• Helena's Hayden Schrull finished 38-1 and ended his high school career with a 117-30 record after a 9-0 championship victory over Brandon Cooper of Bozeman. He finished with 86 career pins and was a three-time state placer, capturing his second straight state title.