MontanaSports.com Original: Something to prove

Montana’s storied high school wrestling history added another chapter on Saturday night at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, as Colstrip’s Jackson Currier, Havre’s Martin Wilkie and Forsyth’s Michael Weber became the 33rd, 34th and 35th four-time state wrestling champions, respectively.

But the trio wasn’t alone in joining an elite list. Wrestlers Hannah Hurst, Persephone Sandoval, Lily Grismer, Rebecca Stroh, O’Maste Foster and Taylor Angle became the latest females to wrestle in the state tournament — joining a list that’s believed to be less than 20 female wrestlers.

Only four times has a girl stood on the podium at the state wrestling tournaments — Abi Gontarek in 2014, Tilynne Vasquez in 2017 and 2018, while Rebecca Stroh placed sixth in 2018. Vasquez is Montana’s highest female placer following her fourth-place effort last winter.

As girls continue to make their own history in the sport of wrestling, MTN Sports set out to learn more about their endeavors, challenges and triumphs.

Molly Trindle is believed to be the first female to win a match at the state tournament, posting two wins for Fort Benton in consecutive years — 2009 and 2010. Trindle is now a double major in oboe performance and music history at the University of Montana.

Laurel’s Gontarek made headlines across the state when she placed fifth in 2014, then became the first signee with the University of Providence women’s wrestling program. She now wrestles for McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill.

Vasquez is Montana’s most decorated female wrestler, having won titles at FloWorld nationals and the PanAm Games, to name a couple. She transferred from Kalispell Flathead to Kalispell Glacier this year, but did not wrestle for the Wolfpack. Vasquez will be a senior next year.

Stroh twice made history at the 2018 state wrestling tournaments, defeating another female in the bracket, a state first in the championship bracket, while placing sixth for Chinook. She moved from the 103- to 113-pound weight class her sophomore season, placing fifth at divisionals. Only the top four advance to state in Class B/C, but due to a lack of wrestlers in western Montana, Stroh advanced to state, finishing 0-2.

Morgan Ayers is another well-traveled wrestler, having recently gone to Japan to represent the United States. Growing up in Montana’s pee-wee programs, Ayers is no stranger to wins at all levels, as she qualified for the state tournament in 2017. She placed sixth at the Southern B/C divisional this season.

All five — Ayers, Stroh, Vasquez, Gontarek and Trindle — are pioneers in girls wrestling, hoping to open the door for others to follow, knowing all along they have something to prove.

Richie Melby

Richie Melby

A Hi-line native, Richie Melby enjoys telling the stories of Montana athletes, coaches and teams. Richie got his start in TV at KTVQ in Billings and worked as the Sports Director at KRTV. After a couple of years in Tucson, Ariz., Richie returned to his home state as the Sports Director at KTVH.
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