February 22, 2009
Champions keep dreams alive at Swarthout
By SCOTT MANSCH Tribune Asst. Sports Editor
The wrestling Rauser brothers have Olympic dreams, so it wasn't lost on them that Saturday's inaugural Meet of Champions was in the same gymnasium at Great Falls High that once featured victories by the Zadick boys.
Jade and Val Rausers are sophomores at Broadwater County High in Townsend, where they've already established quite a wrestling legacy. In Great Falls there is also a considerable mat tradition, which includes a world championship by Bill Zadick and, last summer, and Olympic appearance by his brother Mike.
"I was thinking about that," Jade Rauser. "This is where they used to wrestle."
Hopes and dreams were most definitely alive in the venerable fieldhouse Saturday as the Tournament of Champions produced an exciting afternoon of wrestling before a crowd of about 750.
"It wasn't beyond our expectations but it was right there," said Great Falls attorney Zander Blewett, who along with sons Anders and Drew worked for nearly a year to organize the event. "The wrestlers and coaches were fantastic, and we probably had more people than we thought might. And next year we'll do way better."
More than half of the 45 individual champions from the All-Class Championships came to the Electric City for an additional weekend of grappling. Some were there for a mulligan after disappointing finales at the All-Classer. Others who will graduate in the spring showed up for a final nostalgic cameo in school colors.
And a few, like the Rauser twins, were here because it was just the next meet on the schedule. Jade won the 105-pound title and Val was the 112 champion on Saturday.
"We were just looking for the competition," said Jade. "We started working out with our Cobra (AAU) club last week and we'll be in a tournament in Butte (today). We'll be starting Greco and Freestyle so we can get ready for this summer in Fargo and the Junior Nationals."
And in a few years?
"Hopefully by the next Olympics we'll be able to try out," Jade said.
The Tournament of Champions attracted 57 athletes who competed in semifinals and finals in the spotlight at Swarthout. The Glasgow Scotties had the most individual champions with three, while teams from Havre, Kalispell Flathead and Townsend had two each.
Havre's winners included Myles Mazurkiewicz (135) and Kent Pattison (140). Mazurkiewicz is a senior who will undoubtedly be wrestling in college next winter, while Pattison is a junior who figures to be a team leader next season as the powerhouse Blue Ponies of head coach Scott Filius seek more mat glory in the Treasure State.
Mazurkiewicz, a two-time Class A state champion, has already earned a lot of that. He was smiling Saturday afternoon when asked about the first Tournament of Champions.
"It's realy encouraging," Mazurkiewicz said. "Some people said it's meant to degrade other wrestlers, but I don't find that at all. It's just a case of let's get out there and wrestle to see who's the best. You've really got nothing to lose."
Other highlights were provided by the Glasgow Scotties, as superstars Myles Kittleson (189) and Chance Rauscher (215) both added to their unbeaten senior seasons with T of C championships. Sophomore Chaz Hopstad (160) also won twice, defeating athletes from both Class A and Class AA.
Class AA finished with seven champions on Saturday. Among the winners was Helena High heavyweight Toby Erickson, the largest of the large in the division. Erickson edged longtime friend Ethan Tweet of Fort Benton — a three-time Class B-C champion — 3-1 in the championship finals.
"I think it's phenomenal that they were able to do this," said Erickson. "Just a great opportunity."
Erickson did not lose a match his last two seasons in a Bengal uniform and will compete for Boise State next season. He said there might just be a bright future for the Tournament of Champions.
"I think kids would enjoy it, but we've got to get all the state champions," said Erickson.
The Blewetts tried. Next year they promise to try even harder.
"We're not going to have to sell the concept next year, because all the coaches are with us and aware of us," said Zander Blewett. "This has been very rewarding and a lot of fun."
Mazurkiewicz knows what he's talking about.
"They treated us very well all weekend," said the Havre standout. "It was a good experience and I hope it continues."
Other winners at the Tournament of Champions included Cole Mendenhall of Great Falls High (98), David Demo of Bozeman (119), Joaquin Calderon of Kalispell Flathead (125), Shawn Lau of Kalispell Flathead (130), Tyler Elm of Billings Skyview (145), Larry Francis of Kalispell Glacier (152) and Brock Picard of Polson (171).
TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Cole Mendenhall, Great Falls High, pinned Holden Gagner, Missoula Hellgate, 3:22
Luke Schlosser, Conrad, dec. Nik Hinebauch, Billings Skyview, 6-4.
Cole Mendenhall, Great Falls High, pinned Luke Schlosser, Conrad, 3:42
Jade Rauser, Townsend, pinned Duel Stadel, Havre, 2:23
Dylan Mendanhall, Great Falls High, dec. Clay Cathey, Billings Skyview, 10-7.
Jade Rauser, Townsend, pinned Dylan Mendenhall, Great Falls High, 3:55
Riley Berry, Bozeman, dec. Cliff Evans, Missoula Sentinel, 4-3
Val Rauser, Townsend, pinned Cliff Evans, Missoula Sentinel, 2:58
Sam Shelton, Billings Skyview, dec. Tyler Steadman, Frenchtown, 8-5
Val Rauser, Townsend, pinned Sam Shelton, Billings Skyview, 4:55
Alejandro Calderon, Kalispell Flathead, dec. Kylan Zumpf, Miles City, 13-12
David Demo, Bozeman, dec. Jake Trujillo, Arlee, 7-0
David Demo, Bozeman, dec. Alejandro Calderon, Kalispell Flathead, 19-3
Niko Guymon, Helena High, dec. Seth Snyder Huntley Project, 3-2.
Joaquin Calderon, Kalispell Flathead, pinned Niko Guymon, Helena High, 2:50.
Kyle Taranto, Bozeman, dec. Cole Rice, Arlee, 9-4
Shawn Lau, Kalispell Flathead, dec. Kyle Taranto, Bozeman, 5-3
Brice Gretch, Billings Skyview, dec. Casey Makor, Miles City, 8-4.
Shawn Lau, Kalispell Flathead dec. Brice Gretch, Billings Skyview, 1-0
Marshall Carpenter, Bozeman, dec. Tanner Beaman, Kalispell Flathead, 11-1
Myles Mazurkiewicz, Havre, dec. Marshall Carpenter, Bozeman, 14-4
Kent Pattison, Havre, dec. Jeremiah Hayes, Shelby, 12-4
Brad Nordahl, Frenchtown, dec. Sam Brown, Colstrip, 2-0
Kent Pattison, Havre, dec. Brad Nordahl, Frenchtown, 5-3
Tyler Elm, Billings Skyview, dec. Cole Schram, Belgrade, 1-0.
Tyler Elm, Billings Skyview, dec. Britton Thompson, Townsend, 7-5.
Larry Francis, Kalispell Glacier, pinned Connor Malone, Lewistown, :26
Casey Schaub, Havre, dec. Tucker Taylor, Belgrade, 3-1.
Larry Francis, Kalispell Glacier, pinned Casey Schaub, Havre, 2:44
Chaz Hopstad, Glasgow, dec. Jordan Malarchick, Belgrade, 13-11 OT.
Josh Hamilton, Missoula Sentinel, dec. Brady DeCock, Huntley Project, 8-6.
Chaz Hopstad, Glasgow, dec. Josh Hamilton, Missoula Sentinel, 10-8
Brock Picard, Polson, dec. Seth Wright, Libby, 9-2
Myles Kittleson, Glasgow, dec. Philip Prickett, Belgrade, 6-4
Zach Wichman, Great Falls High, pinned Craig Ashworth, Florence, :19
Myles Kittleson, Glasgow, pinned Zach Wichman, Great Falls High, 3:05.
Chance Rauscher, Glasgow, pin. Matt Cable, Great Falls High, 3:42
Kelly Houle, Columbia Falls, dec. Parker Miller, Glasgow, 9-4.
Chance Rauscher, Glasgow, dec. Kelly Houle, Columbia Falls, 9-4
Toby Erickson, Helena High, pinned Colton Hill, Glasgow, 3:27
Ethan Tweet, Fort Benton, dec. Mitch Schnittgen, Havre, 4-2.
Toby Erickson, Helena High, dec. Ethan Tweet, Fort Benton, 3-1.