HELENA —Two former Capital City wrestlers, competing for third-ranked Montana State University-Northern, both captured championships at the Tyler Plummer Classic Tournament in Dickinson, North Dakota, recently.
Junior Landon Bailey, a Helena High grad, won the 133-pound title, pinning Providence University’s Aarron Gelvin in 2:53 in the finals.
And Capital product Nick Kunz, a sophomore at 125, garnered the crown with a 7-0 shutout over Austin Boles of Northwestern Iowa.
Bailey and Kunz, who are both ranked in the top 15 in the NAIA national rankings, were two of seven Lights matmen to take home Plummer Classic first-place medals. Once crosstown prep rivals — although at different weights — the tandem also share an apartment nine miles outside of Havre.
Bailey is Helena's former all-time winningest grappler, while Kunz still holds the Capital career record for wins. The two athletes are not only roommates but have become close friends, going “hunting and fishing together during down times,” when they’re not pounding on each other on the mats.
At Helena from 2012-15, Bailey was the first Bengals grappler to achieve four top-3 placings at the state tournaments. He finished with two thirds and a runner-up, and claimed the Class AA crown at 120 pounds in 2014.
Bailey set the school’s career win record, going 128-21 and shattering the old mark 114, which was shared by Jade Fetters and Ryan Fetherston. He is presently ranked No. 3 on Helena’s all-time list, behind Noah Manibusan (2017) with 133, and Devin Crawford (present) at 130 victories.
Last year, with Montana Northern, Bailey placed fifth at both the Battle of the Rockies and the Tyler Plummer Classic, and sixth at the Missouri Valley Invite.
He then qualified for the 2018 NAIA national tournament by finishing fourth at the Cascade Conference Championships in Ashland, Oregon. At nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, he went 2-2 at and finished with an overall mark of 24-21, with four pins.
Prior to his recent Plummer Classic title, in the season opener, Bailey posted a major decision over Ryan Ninman, while helping the team to a 30-9 victory over Eastern Oregon. His season record is currently 18-6.
At the Argo Duals, he first pinned Oliver Phillips (Northwest Kansas Technical College) in 4:26 in the 141-pound class, and then defeated Charles Mcneil (McKendree University) 8-5 at 133. In a 30-9 win over Minot State, Bailey, then ranked No. 12, posted a 9-2 win over William Horton-Hayden.
The son of Doug and Charrissa Bailey, he is majoring in civil engineering.
At Capital, Kunz was a three-time all-stater, his best finish coming as the 2017 state runner-up at 120. He left the school with a career wins record of 122-34, eclipsing the old mark of 120 shared by Kallen Kleinschmidt and Alex Markle.
Current Capital wrestler Lee Lambrecht, a senior, is sitting on 109 lifetime victories, with three weeks left in the season.
With the Lights last year, Kunz became the starter at 125 as a true freshman and never relinquished his spot. He placed third at both the Spokane Open and the Battle of the Rockies in Great Falls, and took fourth at the Trapper Open at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.
He then finished third at the Cascade Conference Championships, while qualifying for the NAIA tourney. Kunz also went 2-2 at the 2018 National Championships, while compiling an overall mark of 26-20 with 7 pins.
This year, Kunz owns two tourney titles, first winning the Trapper Open, before his triumph at the Plummer meet.
He took second at the Spokane Open Tournament, and placed third at the Battle of the Rockies. He came in fourth place at the Missouri Valley Invitational as well. Ranked No. 9 in the NAIA, Kunz owns a record of 24-10, with 17 pins.
An agricultural technology major, his parents are John and Peggy Kunz.