Most young people are typically involved in some sort of organization or extra curricular activities offered by their school, but a half-dozen young men from Twin Bridges High School have taken advantage of a cooperative agreement with Beaverhead County High School to wrestle for the Beavers.
Due in part to their smaller student body Twin Bridges does not currently offer a wrestling program, so the boys must make the trip to Dillon after school every day for practice. While the grueling workouts and demanding schedule might be a lot for a high school freshman to handle, Austin Brentlinger explains that it’s not really all that bad.
“Me and the Dillon kids are good friends,” he says of his teammates. Brentlinger grew up participating in youth wrestling programs, so by the time he was asked to come to Dillon and join the BCHS program he already knew many of the other athletes.
“We have a pretty solid team,” he said.
Brentlinger made quick work of his opponent in the 189-pound class during a mixer in Dillon on Friday, where teams from Anaconda, Bozeman, Butte and Livingston all came out to compete. While he’s enthusiastic about his results, he also displays the focus of a serious athlete.
“I want to do the best I can to get the varsity spot for 189 pounds,” Brentlinger says. “Just keep working my way up and hopefully win state as a senior.”
Across the gym, Brentlinger’s teammates and classmates at Twin Bridges experience varying degrees of success. Freshman Philip Vial wins a difficult matchup in the 160-pound class, while junior Clark Mocilac is defeated at the 145 / 152 – pound weight class.
But Mocilac holds his head high even though he lost. The Twin Bridges junior wrestled as a freshmen in Whitehall before transferring schools, and he’s just glad to have an chance to get out on the mat.
“Its good to be able to wrestle again,” he said.
It’s a full time commitment to the wrestling team, especially for the guys who drive back and forth from Twin Bridges, and it wouldn’t be possible without parent drivers running a carpool. It’s not unusual for Mocilac to get home for the day after 8 p.m., and keeping up with schoolwork is a top priority.
“It’s tough but its manageable,” Mocilac said.
Practices consist of technique drills and conditioning exercises, and the athletes spend much of their time stretching and running laps around the mat. When they’re not working out the wrestlers are working with coaches to critique previous matchups and game plan for future tournaments.
BCHS junior Zach Girard watched his teammates warm up before Friday’s mixer from the sidelines due to an injury, but it’s more difficult to point out the kids from Twin one might think.
“Everyone seems to like them,” Girard said. “They’re progressing along really well this year, and that’s showing on the mat.”
Austin Brentlinger wasn’t overly excited that he dominated his opponent. He carries himself with the confidence and composure of an athlete who has been there before, and he graciously accepted congratulations from teammates and spectators alike. Brentlinger is thankful for the opportunity, and he’ll improve on his wrestling technique from this mixer.
“Even if I lose or win, I’m having fun,” he said.