Crosstown wrestling Conner Kovick and Andrew Cotton

Capital's Conner Kovick and Helena's Andrew Cotton search for an opening.  Kovick went on to win by a pin.

In wrestling, momentum can swing in an instant and for a short time Tuesday night, the Helena High Bengals had it.

Despite trailing 36-15 at one point to Helena Capital Tuesday inside the Jungle, the Bengals mounted a comeback thanks to consecutive pins by Dhestin McKinnis (170) and Kaleb Kirklin (182), which trimmed Bruins' lead to 36-27.

Then, in the 205-pound match between Ruger Young of Helena and Capital senior Tucker Zanto, the Bengals again had an advantage.

Young built a 5-0 lead and appeared to be in control. But then, Zanto flipped the script. He gained the upper hand and after battling Young for nearly half a minute, Zanto won by fall, clinching the dual for CHS, which the Bruins eventually won 48-27.

"I knew I had to do whatever I could to score," Zanto said. "5-0 is a pretty big gap and he's a really tough guy. But I was able to string together some moves and turn it around."

Not only did Zanto get himself back into the match, he got his team the full six points.

"It was a great feeling," he said. "The dual environment is always fun, especially with all of the students here. Last year, I had a pretty good guy in front of me in Noah Kovick, so I just had to keep working and be ready for this moment and it was so much fun."

"It was great," Capital head coach Shawn Graham said of Zanto's win. "He kind of put himself in a hole, but he didn't stop fighting. He kept working his technique and kept pushing the pace and got the win, which was awesome. We were at a point where we needed it." 

After Zanto wrapped up the dual for Capital, Talon Marsh finished it off with a 59-second pin of David Luby in his first match of the season.

Conner Kovick (160) and Cashton Spolar (113) also notched wins by fall for Capital while Jack Casey (103), Hunter Rahn (126), Boston Lay (138) and Carson DesRosier (145) all won by forfeit.

"It's always great to win your crosstown match," Graham said. "We had a little more excitement there than we probably should have. We were trying to get Carson a crosstown match for his senior year but it didn't work out."

Graham moved DesRosier up a weight class to try and get the two-time state champion a match, but Helena adjusted its lineup too, so Cole Graham, the head coaches freshman son, took on Ian Mehrens in one of the best matches of the night.

The two battled to an even score in the third period and with things tied up at 4-4, Graham chose a neutral position, giving up a point and the lead to Mehrens, who was able to run out the clock to take a 5-4 decision.

"That was a really close match," Shawn Graham said. "I'm pretty sure they had the score wrong there. When I told (Cole) to cut him (surrendering a point) we should have been down 3-2. But it was fine the way it was and if we get a takedown there, we win."

For the Bengals, it started to shift momentum in their direction and cut the Capital lead at the time down to 30-15. Kovick quickly stalled the momentum with a pin at 160 pounds, but back-to-back wins for the Bengals, and three of four total made the dual a match again, before Capital wrapped it up in the upper weights.

"Giving up 24 points wasn't what I wanted to do," Helena High head coach Sam Bogard said. "But I know that my boys will come out and fight every time. They just don't have any quit in them. I have a lot of faith in my kids and this is just a stepping stone." 

Helena also made things competitive thanks to wins at 120 pounds from Steven Yargo, who pinned Dustin Campbell of Capital, as well as JT Gehring (132) who pinned Ayden Smelko to put another six points on the board for Helena.

The Bengals had four pins and one win by decision. Capital also notched four pins in addition to winning four matches by forfeit. Both teams will take part in the CMR Holiday Classic which starts Friday in Great Falls. 

Chris is the sports editor and lead preps reporter for the Independent Record and Follow him on Twitter @cmpetey406

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