By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN
The Montana Grizzlies renew their long-running post-season rivalry this Saturday in Fargo North Dakota. In both 1969 and 1970 the Griz posted matching 10-regular season records and earned a trip to the Camelia Bowl in Sacremento, back in the days before the play-offs. Back in those days players were ineligible for post-season if they had not completed their credits at their previous college; the Griz were decimated by that rule and lost badly both years.
Bob Stitt joined some elite company last saturday with the Griz win over South Dakota State. Stitt became only the third Griz head caoch to win in in the play-offs in his first season, Mick Dennehy and Joe Glenn took UM to the National title game in their inagural campaign at the Griz helm. Stitt Joins Dennehy, Glenn and Bobby Huack in winning at least 8 games in his first season as head coach of the Griz.
In their season opening loss to Montana, North Dakota state quarterback Carson Wentz struggled with some injury issues. Now both Wentz and his back-up Easton Stick have outstanding quarterback efficency ratings. When Stick is called upon to lead the Bison he has his favorite reciever from his high school days in Omaha in wide receiver RJ Urzendowski available. Stick to Urlendowski combined for a 77 yard TD play during the season.
Bob Stitt is a coaching colleague and good friend of former Griz coach Joe Glenn. In October Glenn’s University of South Dakota Coyotes went in to the FargoDome and beat the NDSU Bison 24-21. Might the two coaches have an extended chat this week?
The Montana Grizzly basketball team returns to the home court this Fridaty as they host the Dons of San Francisco . The Dons have won 2 of their last 3 visits to Montana. One fellow that is hoping for a better night than the last time the Dons were in town is Griz assistant, Jono Metzger Jones, who missed the end of the game after an episode of Vertigo sent him to the Hospital.
Senior center Martin Bruenig is once again among the Big Sky leaders. Bruening is 2nd in the league in scoring, third in field goal percentage, and fourth in rebounding.
Sunday afternoon the Lady Griz host the Titans of Cal State Fullerton. The Titans are coached by Great Falls native and MSU alum, Derron Park. Park was an assistant with the Cats in the late 1990’s and then coached in the Frontier Conference for Westmeinster of Utah. Park has a very young roster heavily populated with freshmen. Also the Titans have a roster with players from outside of California, Florida, New Jersey and Nebraska.
The Montana Lady Griz lead the Big Sky in blocks. Leading the UM block party is Makayla Izaaks, a redshirt sophomore from Bend Oregon. Izaaks is fifth in blocks and third in Assists to turnovers.
Chris Walterskirchen has been an observer of Montana sports for nearly half a century. A Kalispell native, Chris has worked in various capacities for professional and college sports organization of at various times: ranging from announcing and statistical work to the concessions and even a stint as a costumed mascot.
Chris has academic degrees in communications and elementary education. His style of sports trivia involves more than just who won and who lost, but also focuses on the obscure or human side of sports. In this blog you will learn things like the Grizzly football team has won 210 games over the 19 seasons since they have had Monte as their mascot or that UNLV is the only school that both the Griz and Lady Griz have both faced in the NCAA basketball tournament
When not following sports Chris enjoys taking care of animals of all kinds (a peacock rescue?) and reading to pre-schoolers.