HELENA -- There are few wrestling tournaments in the state of Montana like the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic and starting Friday in Missoula, teams from across the state and the region will converge for the two-day tournament.
In addition to featuring many of the top teams in Montana, the Jug Beck also includes teams from Idaho, Washington and sometimes even Wyoming. This year, there will be 30 in attendance, including both Helena Capital, which finished just outside the top-10 a year ago and Helena High.
Both the Bruins and the Bengals are coming off dual losses, Capital finished ninth the Tom LeProwse tournament in Bozeman and fifth at the CMR Holiday Classic, which could bode well for them this weekend.
"The Rocky Mountain is really tough," Capital head coach Jeff Mahana said. "It turns into a tri-state. You have Washington, Idaho and Montana and it's the best of the best. The seeding criteria is how many state championships you have won. So the key for us is to have as many guys as possible contributing and making sure we get up on the podium."
Capital will bring one state champion into the competition in 132-pounder Carson DesRosier, who has lost just one match this season. That defeat came at the hands of Lewistown's Cooper Birdwell, who will be in the bracket this week too.
Birdwell defeated DesRosier at the CMR Holiday Classic back in December thanks to a 6-3 decision and it's possible the two will meet again in a battle of state champs. Birdwell is a defending Class A state champion.
"Carson has been doing a really great job for us," Mahana said. "He has been wrestling tough and we have four or five guys that are really close. We are going to keep pushing them and hopefully, good things will happen."
Last year at the Jug Beck, DesRosier finished third as a freshman. Another Capital grappler, Zane McCormick also finished fourth at 205 pounds and after missing last week for a recruiting trip, he will be back in the lineup for the Bruins.
DesRosier will come into this weekend's tournament ranked No. 1 in Class AA at 132 pounds and joining him in the top spot of his weight class is 182-pounder Noah Kovick. McCormick is third at 205 pounds, Josh Lee and Hunter Rahn are also fifth at 285 and 103 pounds, respectively.
Ian Mehrens, David Kemp and Kaleb McKay are a few of the wrestlers that will represent Helena High, which lost a dual to Butte Tuesday night.
More top-5 matchups
Following its win over Missoula Hellgate last Saturday, the Helena Capital girls basketball team jumped into the No. 1 spot in the 406mtsports.com rankings this week.
The Bruins rolled past Missoula Big Sky Tuesday night on the road and will return home Saturday to take on third-ranked Missoula Sentinel Saturday in a battle of 7-0 teams.
Dani Bartsch has reached double figures in back-to-back games, averaging 13 for the Bruins, who have also been getting stellar shooting efforts from Mara McGinley. The junior guard has connected on 11 3-pointers in her last three outings.
Prior to that high-profile girls game, the Capital boys will take part in a top-5 matchup with the Missoula Sentinel, which is the No. 2 team and fresh off a victory over Helena High Tuesday night.
The fifth-ranked Bruins notched a win over Big Sky Tuesday night at home and led by Trevor Swanson, Bridger Grovom, Brayden Koch and Parker Johnston, they will look to hand Alex Germer, Tony Frohlich-Fair and Sentinel its first loss of 2019-20.
The boys game will tip off at 4 p.m. Saturday, followed by the girls at approximately 5:30 inside the Bears Den.
Helena High teams look to bounce back
Both Helena High basketball teams will be back on the court Thursday. The Bengal girls (3-4, 1-2) lost back-to-back games to Hellgate and Sentinel, two top-three teams on the road, in between a win over Butte last Saturday at home.
Yet, behind the shooting of McKayla Kloker, who leads the Bengals in scoring, as well as the contributions of Riley Thennis, Caroline Bullock and Abby Marcille, Helena will look to even its record versus Missoula Big Sky ahead its crosstown matchup with Capital next Thursday.
The boys team will also look to get back in the win column against Big Sky, which it will have to do on the road. Logan Brown scored in double figures Tuesday in a loss, but he, Kaden Huot and Hayden Ferguson will be counted on to boost an offense that scored under 40 for the second time in four games.
"They are just thinking too much," Day said. "I get a little carried away running sets and I just have to be more trusting to let them just play basketball."
The Helena girls will host Big Sky Thursday at the Jungle. The boys (2-5, 1-2) will be on the road against the Eagles in Missoula. Both games will start at 7:15 p.m.