BILLINGS — The stage was set.
Packed house. Center mat featuring the Billings Senior horseshoe and orange, black and white. The Senior band had entertained the crowd.
And at 3:59 p.m. on Saturday, approximately a half hour after the parade of finalists had finished, Broncs standout Charlie Klepps and Jaden MacNeil of Kalispell Flathead were ready to tangle for the State AA 132-pound title. Klepps led 2-1 at the end of the first and second periods, but with 1:30 left in the match the relentless offense he is known for kicked in and Klepps won a 13-5 major decision.
The Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark crowd came to its feet to give Klepps a standing ovation as he had just become the 32nd four-time state champion in Montana high school wrestling history.
It was the kind of moment fans of the state wrestling tournament live for. Klepps, who improved to 42-3, said he had wondered what it would feel like if he were to achieve the championship.
"It's 100 percent better than I imagined," he said. "And I imagined some pretty cool things."