By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN
There have been big wins, tremendous upsets, and heroic effort, but nothing quite compares to December 16, 1995 in Huntington West Virginia. The Montana Grizzlies upset the home standing Marshall Thundering Herd in the FCS National title game 22-20. The win came on the toe of Andy Larson who booted through a 25-yard field goal. Dave Dickenson threw a pair of touchdown passes to his favorite target Matt Wells to fuel the Griz win. For a community that up until 1989 had little to cheer about when it came to Griz football, the raise to the top of the heap was exhilarating. It is estimated that more than 8,000 fans braved the late hour and cold December win to greet the team.It gave coach Don Read a national title he richly deserved.
Saturday afternoon the Montana Grizzly basketball team will venture into one of the most honored arenas in all of college basketball–“Phog” Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence Kansas–to take on the Second-ranked Kansas Jayhawks. Kansas basketball is special; its first basketball coach was Dr. James Neismith the man who invented the game. Neismith was fired after six seasons because his teams were inconsistent.
In December of 1962 Ron Nord began his Griz head coaching career in Lawrence and promptly saw his team fall behind by 29 in the first half.
Jayhawks coach Bill Self has faced the Griz twice before while the head coach at Oral Roberts. Self’s Eagles won the 1966 Griz Holiday Classic. Then in February routed the Griz in a return engagement in Tulsa.
For the 35th time the Montana Lady Griz play/host their annual Holiday tournament.Any tournament who includes in its history appearances by both Stanford and Montana Tech has to be as well-rounded event.
Both Utah State and Tennessee State are making their second appearence in the tournament–each eager for a win as both had little success in their first visit. Utah State set a record in the margin of defeat they suffered in a 85-34 thumping by Wyoming in 1983
Tournament newcomer Florida Atlantic University sports one of the most talented players around in guard Malia Kenchy, from Statesboro Georgia. Kenchy is among the nationally ranked in assists and shooting percentage. One other note: FAU are nicknamed the Owls and the last time the Lady Griz hosted Owls at Dahlberg arena was Temple two years ago and the Owls prevailed.
In the stampede that is the College Bowl season one early match-up brings back fond memories for long-time MSU fans. Saturday Night Arkansas State takes on Louisiana Tech in the New Orleans Bowl. Back in 1984 on their way to the FCS national title the MSU Bobcats beat Arkansas state in the semi-finals and them dominated LaTEch in the title game.
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.