UM Sports Trivia | March 11

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

For the first time in 11 years the Big Sky men’s quarterfinals will be held at the same site as the semi-finals and championship games. In 2002 when the change was made to holding the quarterfinals at campus sites it was said it was due to financial concerns, but a major factor was to give the regular season champions a better shot of playing in the title game. Three times between 1997-2002 the regular season champ didn’t make the title game and all three were tied to the Montana Grizzlies–twice when the Griz rose up to win the tournament on another court and once when UM lost at home in the semi-finals.

Poor Portland state, the only Big Sky school not represented this week in Missoula. From 2009-2011 the Viking Women played for the tournament title and last March the Viking men reached the tournament semi-finals.

How comparable are the Grizzlies and Weber State Wildcats? Both the Griz and wildcats have won 100 games since January 10, 2009.

Over the last 5 years Weber state has reached the semi-finals each year and even made the title game twice, but haven’t won a tournament title since 2007–coach Randy Rahe’s first season in Ogden.

For the first time in 4 years the Montana Lady Griz host the Big Sky tournament. Only Alexandra Hurley of the current team has been a part of a tournament in Missoula. For what history is worth, the Lady Griz have hosted the Conference 19 previous times and have only lost once (to NAU in the 2007 Big Sky semi-finals).

The Lady Griz could face Southern Utah and Sacramento State for the first time in Big Sky Conference tournament play. Sacramento State has made 4 tournament appearances but it wasn’t until last March that the Hornets won a game in the tournament. Southern Utah is in its first season in the Big Sky.

It is fitting that the MSU women play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday as Wednesday marks the 20th anniversary of the Cat’s only women’s tournament title. The Bobcats led by Cass Bauer beat the Lady Griz for the title; Montana defeated Boise state in the semi-finals (a BSU team that included future MSU Bobcats coach Tricia Bader Binford).

March 9 must be a lucky day for the Hellgate Knights as they won their first ever state title on March 9, 1985 and then repeated the feat Saturday. There were many historuic connections. Jeff Hays winning his state title at the school where his father Eric coached for a quarter of a century. Helena head coach Guy Almquist who had starred at Sentinel and Led the Spartans to the AA title game in 1992, the grandson of early 1940’s Missoula sports legend Guy Rogers. A special “cheer” for Hellgate star Luke Bewley who spent several weeks in the hospital following a serious kidney injury in the fall of 2011.

The Sentinel Spartans become the third girl’s basketball from Missoula to claim back-to-back titles at the AA level. Big Sky won consecutive titles under Ben Demers in 1987 and ’88 and Marti Leibenguth in 2008-09 and now Karen Deden’s Spartans. March 9 has some historical significance for coach Deden for it was March 9, 1985 that Deden helped sentinel win their first ever state Volleyball title (before they were done Deden and Company won 3 straight volleyball titles).

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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.