BELGRADE — Thirty-three long years have passed since Miles City brought home a trophy from the state wrestling tournament.
But that has a chance to change this year, as the Cowboys sit seventh in the most recent Class A rankings.
“They’re getting excited about it,” Miles City head coach Mike Etchemendy said. “It was something I’ve been preaching for the two years I’ve been here, and the boys are starting to believe. That sixth ranking really did it for them. They just think we’re all, the coaches are just blowing smoke. But it’s like, ‘No, guys, you can be in it. Believe in yourself.’”
“It’s big. As you said, it hasn’t happened in a long time,” Miles City junior grappler Tyler Harms said. “We’ve been kind of down. We haven’t even had a state champion in seven years.”
Harms and sophomore teammate Damian Liedholt rank toward the top of their respective weight classes and will need to do well for the Cowboys to have a shot at a trophy. But depth will be critical for Miles City.
“It really is going to come down to the wrestlebacks,” Etchemendy said. “Our stud guys need to come through, but then our wrestleback guys need to get it done.”
After a self-admitted sluggish start to the season, the Cowboys have come on strong lately, and the Miles City community has taken notice, too.
“The guys, they didn’t really know how to do all that at the beginning, but they’re stepping up, they’re figuring it out, starting to work really hard in practice and warmups and stuff, so it’s paying off,” said Etchemendy.
“There’s actually been a lot more people coming to watch us now and lot more support from them,” said Liedholt.
With Harms and Liedholt leading the way, Miles City is looking to bring home some hardware from the state tournament for the first time since 1986.