The Whitehall Ledger - Serving Southern Jefferson County in the Great State of Montana

By Jack H. Smith
Whitehall Ledger 

STATE CHAMP: Johnson wins 132 pound title

Trojans finish 10th


February 13, 2019

Michelle Johnson

Whitehall High School senior Connor Johnson (middle) won the 2019 Class B/C 132 pound title at last week's state tournament. Mike Wilkinson (far left) finished in fifth place for the Trojans.

Whitehall's Connor Johnson is a state champion.

The senior captured the 132-pound championship at last week's state tournament with a win by fall 46 seconds into his finals match against Nathan Schmidt of Eureka.

"Winning the state title is the greatest feeling ever. All the hard work payed off and I wouldn't have wanted it to end any other way," Johnson said.

Whitehall Head Coach Mark Nelson said Johnson's path to the title where he won all four matches by pin in the first period was the most dominant performance he has seen at state since he has been with the program.

"He was focused all the way and was on a mission. It was total domination," Nelson said.

Johnson became the first Trojans wrestler to win an individual champion since Zach Near in 2006.

Johnson was also awarded the Quick Pin Award for the finals, joining his head coach and TJ Nelson as the two other Trojans wrestlers to win the award.

Johnson opened the tournament with a win by fall over John Hughes of Harlem in 34 seconds. He won in the quarterfinals by fall over Cole Becker of Circle at the 1:25 mark, and won in the semifinals by fall over Kolten Schipman of Malta at the 2:18 mark.

The finals match was the second time Johnson and Schmidt had wrestled this season and after losing 8-4 in the first match, Nelson said Connor was really quick to pick up on learning from film of the match and executed the game plan in the finals.

"Getting to wrestle him earlier really helped because I was able to understand what I did wrong and get better and what he did wrong and capitalize on it in the championship. Coach Nelson and Coach (Steve) Sacry prepared me in every way possible to go and beat a kid I lost to earlier," Johnson said.

Nelson lauded the dedication of Johnson to the sport and the extra time he put in during their voluntary 2-a-days, adding the state champions usually do the extra things.

Nelson said Johnson had an aggressive style on the mat that just ate kids up.

As a team, the Trojans finished in 10th place.

Whitehall junior Mike Wilkinson finished in fifth place at 132 pounds, and Nelson said he had a great weekend for the Trojans.

Wilkinson went 4-2 over the two-day tournament. Nelson said having Wilkinson and Johnson at the same weight really helped them both be on their toes every practice. He added Wilkinson really helped push Johnson to become a state champion.

Dawson Powers won one match for Whitehall at 113 pounds. Nelson said after winning his first match, Powers hit a bump in the road his next two matches, but he was a state placer in 2018 and is excited to have him back for next year.

Nelson said the state tournament was a good learning experience for Alleck Holloway at 120 pounds and he now knows what it takes to get to the second day of competition.

Sophomore Trentin Walker picked up two wins for Whitehall at 126 pounds. Nelson said Walker was one win away from placing and he should be hungry to get back for next season.

Dallen Hoover picked up a win for the Trojans at 145 pounds. Nelson said it was a good experience for Hoover and his wrestling in the upcoming offseason and time in the weight room will help the team next year.

One week after capturing the divisional title at 170 pounds, Gaten Wassberg also picked up a win for Whitehall. Nelson said Wassberg battled through a bad knee at state and is looking for big things from him as a senior.

Nelson said Jimmy Best who competed at 182 pounds had never wrestled prior to this year and did a nice job for the team.

Cody Best was able to get a win for Whitehall at 285 pounds and Nelson said he was able to get a year of experience and looking for him to step up next year.

Michelle Johnson

Johnson controls Malta's Kolter Schipman in the semifinals.

The Trojans will return seven of the nine wrestlers from state this season and Nelson is looking forward to another good year in 2019-20.

After meeting their goal of finishing in the top 10 this season, Nelson would like to see the team move up further in the state team scores next season but stressed the importance of wrestling in the offseason and the kids getting in the weight room.

"That's the only way you can get better," he said.

Nelson also wanted to take time to thank all the fans who made the trip to the state tournament and also for those who followed the team from Whitehall and from the basketball games in Manhattan.


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