Great Falls High, C.M. Russell High grapplers prepping for state tournament

Great Falls High's Austin Shupe defeats Seth Noyes on Saturday at the 5th Annual AA Duals in the Swarthout Fieldhouse.TRIBUNE PHOTO/RION SANDERS

Great Falls High’s Austin Shupe defeats Seth Noyes on Saturday at the 5th Annual AA Duals in the Swarthout Fieldhouse.
TRIBUNE PHOTO/RION SANDERS

Be sure to check out Friday’s Tribune, where we’ll have a Class AA state wrestling preview and a feature on Great Falls High130-pounder Austin Shupe.

Shupe lost last year’s 125-pound state title match after leading the entire way and has used that as motivation during the ensuing year.

“(It was) definitely a learning experience,” Shupe said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been thrown in a head-and-arm again since then.”

Shupe spent his summer in rooms at least twice a week and wrestled in tournaments and camps. It’s been beneficial for the junior who hopes to wrestle in college.

“I would go into college rooms throughout the summer, camps wrestling with older kids just getting more technique and more time,” Shupe said. “Just a lot more time in the room and that’s led me here.”

Shupe hasn’t had to look far to see the growing list of former teammates who have succeeded at the college level.

“He is one of those kids that understands that if (he) really wants to pursue this after high school which he does – he wants to wrestle in college – then you have to spend your life on the mat,” GFH coach Steve Komac said.

Over at C.M. Russell High, former GFH assistant coach Aaron Jensen is attempting to resuscitate a once-mighty Rustler squad. CMR actually has five AA state team titles to the Bison’s four, but hasn’t won since 1979.

Jensen was a former state champion at Havre and All-American at MSU-Northern. He fondly recalls those high school days.

“It was awesome,” Jensen said. “It was definitely a really cool experience and it’s something these guys will remember the rest of their lives.”

Jake Marmon, Riley Wavra and Jared Dickson competed at last year’s state tournament, but the remaining nine CMR qualifiers are first-timers.

“The biggest thing is you just have to remember the mat is the same size and you just have to wrestle,” Jensen said. “You’ve been doing it all year and some almost their whole life. Don’t let the environment get to you and just do the things that go you out.”

One wrestler who has been doing it most of his life is sophomore 160-pounder Payton Sexe. He was CMR’s lone divisional champion and the son of a former CMR basketball player.

“He got me into it when I was about 5 or 6 and it just took off from there,” Sexe said. “ I love wrestling. It’s a blast.”

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