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Shelby’s Berlin Larson, bottom, wrestles Billings Senior’s Payton Kale during the first day of the MHSA Girl’s Wrestling State Tournament at Lockwood High School in Lockwood on Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.

The first-ever MHSA All-Girls State Wrestling tournament was held this weekend at Lockwood High School in Billings. Approximately 150 girls attended the event in an all-class showdown. Since there were so many “firsts” surrounding the event, there was a lot of buzz and excitement in the air. In addition to being the first of its kind, it was the first tournament that any of the girls and coaches had participated in this season due to COVID-19. Lockwood did an outstanding job hosting the event in their beautiful facilities.  

Berlin Larson of Shelby was one of those participants this past weekend. Seeded third at 132 pounds and visions of standing at the top of the podium, Berlin was ready to throw her hat in the ring and compete. Her first match against Payton Kale of Billings Senior didn’t go quite as planned. Berlin lost by fall in 4:54. Larson would square off with a feisty Jayda Fox of Custer County/Miles City in the consolation bracket. The match went back and forth and ended up in a sudden victory/overtime period. With the clock winding down, Larson succumbed to a takedown to her back and lost by fall ending her time at the tournament. 

“Us coaches are very proud of Berlin. Not only did she have the fortitude to help establish the girl’s wrestling program here at Shelby, but she also powered through a late start to this season due to an injury,” said Coach Thad White. “She bounced back late in the season and earned some respect across the state. I know the losses at the state tournament will not sit well with her, but I also know that she will use them as motivation, and they won’t define her. As the saying goes, ‘champions are made in the off season.’ Let’s see how she will respond.”  

Berlin will now have to help prepare the boys for the start of the post-season. The team will travel to Cut Bank on Friday and Saturday for the B/C Western Divisional Tournament.

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