BOZEMAN — Alongside the Holiday Classic and the Jug Beck Memorial tournaments, the Tom LeProwse Invitational wrestling tournament is one of a few large-scale wrestling tournaments that lead up to the Montana High School Association's state wrestling tournament.
At each of these tournaments, wrestlers from all across the state are crowned victorious and for Helena High head wrestling coach Sam Bogard, even though that may not have happened on this go around, he's seeing improvement in his squad week after week.
"I'm getting 100% out of my kids every time and they work their butts off constantly, and it's showing. We're getting better every week, and next week we're going to be better" said Bogard.
Ian Mehrens, a junior from Helena High, was one of the two wrestlers for the Bengals to place at the LeProwse invitational with a fifth place finish in the 152 pound bracket. Though Mehrens said a win would have been great, a fifth place finish for someone who's fought ups and downs through his high school career is a good stepping off point.
"This is definitely — definitely one of my best. This is the highest I've ever placed at high school, so that's a plus," said Mehrens. "I just feel like I finished out my matches, you know? So yeah, pretty good."
The Helena High wrestling team has just one girl on the roster, Lanie Russell who is a sophomore in her first year of wrestling. Russell finished second of two wrestlers at 145 pounds, but said the experience at the LeProwse tournament was a solid one, and as she moves through the season she's setting some high expectations for herself.
"I really want to beat somebody that I'm scared of. That's what my goal is I guess. Just to be like. "I'm terrified of them, I'm pretty positive I'm going to lose," but go out and be like, "I'm gonna do it anyways" and have faith in my abilities," said Russell.
As the Bengals get set to take on the Great Falls High and CMR wrestling squads on Tuesday, the Bengals have another chance at crowning champions when they head to the Jug Beck Memorial tournament in Missoula this coming Friday. In that time, Bogard says the Bengals will plan on fixing a few mistakes in that time.
"It's going to be the one that haunts me for a while," said Bogard.
“What's the mistake?” asked MTN Sports.
"Looking for a half nelson on the way down off a double," said with a chuckle before glancing at Mehrens.
Mehrens, with a grin, gave a thumbs up to MTN Sports signifying he's ready to try for that top spot sooner rather than later.