LAWTON, Okla (KSWO) - 2017 was a season for the ages for the MacArthur wrestling program. The Highlanders brought home both the Dual and Tournament State Championships. It was the first time they've pulled off the double since 1990. A key member of that team was Montana Phillips. Phillips won the 5A heavyweight title as a sophomore. But his wrestling season didn't stop there.
Phillips is now preparing for the U.S. Junior National Championships, which will take place next month in Fargo, North Dakota. Phillips won the 16 and under Freestyle Championship last summer. Now he's stepping up to the junior division where he'll compete with some of the top 19 and under grapplers in the country. A good performance there could drum up some serious interest from college programs across the nation.
"It's going to be real hard and tough because I'm going to have to wrestle D-1 commits, all different huge guys," Phillips said. "It's probably one of the top three biggest college recruiting tournaments in the nation for high schools."
"You know if you want national eyes on you, every Division One coach will be in Fargo in July watching these kids compete and wrestle," said MacArthur coach Bobby Cook. "That's kind of where you get to market yourself and brand yourself on the national scene."
With all of the experience he's gained over the last 12 months, Phillips believes he's a much better wrestler now, which gives him the confidence to know he can hang with the top notch competition he'll see in Fargo next month.
"My mentality has changed a lot. Last year I was like, oh it's a tournament, I'm just going to go there and try to place. This time I'm coming up there to try to win," Phillips said. "I've gotten faster. I gotten bigger. And I've got a lot more take-downs I can use up there."
Phillips is hoping to bring back another National Championship to Lawton and help spark interest in wrestling in this community. Speaking of the community, Phillips needs a little help financially to make his trip to Fargo. He has set up a gofundme page https://www.gofundme.com/3ukqyzk to help raise money.