UM Sports Trivia

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

Valentine’s Day is upon us and that should mean wins for the Montana Grizzly and Lady Griz basketball teams. Over the last 40 years the Grizzlies have gone 12-2 on Valentine’s Day, including a 4-1 mark against this Thursday’s opponent Weber State. The Lady Griz have been simply unbeatable on the 14th of February, sporting a record of 7-0 in breaking other teams’ hearts. Interestingly enough Hall Of Fame Grizzly Larry Kryskowiak had two of his more memorable games on February 14 but both were in losses… In 1985 Krysko scored 37 in a loss at Northern Arizona (a career high) and the following year “42” scored 29 to make him the all-time scoring leader in Griz basketball history.

With recruiting season over for the Grizzly football staff we can look at the 2013 schedule. One aspect of the schedule that catches our eye is the fact that currently the Griz have just one home game in September. The last season the Griz had just one September home date was 1986 when they opened their season at Nevada and then opened at home September 27 against Northern Arizona.

The Grizzly basketball team’s amazing 25 Conference win streak is remarkable in the number of years both the overall and home conference win streak stood.  At the time that Weber State set the overall consecutive game winning streak it was a 6 team Big Sky Conference and each school faced the other members 3 times a season in league play. The home win streak held by Idaho ran from 1980-83, and the Grizzlies had a big part of that run. In January of 1980 the Griz beat Idaho in Moscow (it wasn’t a big deal at the time as it was the Griz 9th winning their last 10 trips to Moscow). In January of 1983 the Idaho vandals were a nationally known program having reached the Sweet Sixteen the year before. Led by Doug Selvig and Marc Glass the Griz soundly put an end to the Conference home winning streak and an overall win streak of 43 games.

Legendary football Jim Sweeney died this past week.  From his days coaching high school football in Butte to college stops at Montana State, Washington State and Fresno State and two years in the NFL, coach Sweeney was a “One-of-a-kind”. Among Sweeney’s students in his high School teaching days were future University Presidents George Dennison and Mike Malone. Some of the coaches who Sweeney coached that went on to success: Mick Delaney, Dennis Erickson, Cliff Hysell and Dan Hodge. In 1981 Sweeney decided to go public with his battle with Alcohol. The coach explained that the key to recruiting the region’s top quarterback prospect was him managing his drinking problem, so he gave out his home phone so that anyone who caught him drinking could call his home and let his wife Lucille know. The top prospect Sweeney was trying to recruit was his younger son Kevin and the only way to get Lucille Sweeney to sign the letter of intent was for the coach to be sober. Kevin Sweeney had a record setting career for Fresno State and spent time in theNFL.

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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 costumedmascot.

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.