UM Sports Trivia | Week of Feb 2

By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN

Fifty years ago this week Montana was rocked by the death of one of its most prominent athletes in the prime of his life and his hometown still formally remembers him each year. In early February of 1965 Anaconda native Wayne Estes was on a path to be a All-American in his senior season at Utah State and had already been selected in the NBA’s territorial draft by the LA Lakers (a draft where each NBA franchise got to select the rights to a player in their geographic area) On February 8, 1965 Estes scored a school record 48 points as the Aggies defeated the University of Denver. After the game Estes was driving back to his apartment when he observed a car crash and stopped to see if he could be of assistance. Tragically the power line that had come down as a result of the crash had not been turned off so when the 6-8 Estes brushed against the line he was immediately electrocuted… Governor Tim Babcock ordered all Montana state flags hung at half-mast for a week in tribute to Estes. Senate Majority leader Mike Mansfield eulogized Estes on the floor of the US Senate and spearheaded legislation to ensure faster procedures in dealing with downed power lines. Half a century after his death Estes’ name is still on several sporting events held annually in Anaconda.

For the first time in 36 years the nation Division scoring leader will be in Dahlberg Arena to face the Griz Thursday night. Eastern Washington junior guard Tyler Harvey is tops in major college scoring averaging more than 25 points a game. Harvey came to EWU in the fall of 2011 out of Torrance California. Harvey gained national attention when he led the Eastern Eagles to a win over Indiana at Assembly Hall.

Eastern Washington failed to qualify for last season’s Big Sky tournament at Weber and has reached the Big Sky tournament semi-finals only once since Superstar Rodney Stucky left Cheney in 2007.

BBQSaturday night it is the Idaho Vandals turn to renew a long-standing Big Sky rivalry when they come to Missoula. During their first tenure in the Big Sky the Vandals and Griz had a habit of memorable games. Each School won their first Big Sky tournament title defeating the other in the title game. In 1982 Idaho was no. 8 ranked in the country until they fell in Missoula. In 1983 Idaho had a 43 game home-court winning streak until the Griz came calling. In 1994 the Griz were one of three undefeated Division I programs in the nation until the Vandals knocked them off (even worse it was on coach Blaine Taylor’sbirthday).

Vandals coach Don Verlin is the first Idaho basketball coach to coach the Vandals for 7 seasons since Wayne Anderson ( 1967-74) Verlin is half of the only set of twins to be division I mens head coaches (brother Ron Verlin is in his third season at the helm at Pacific in Stockton, California.)

Good to see that former Griz football coach Bobby Hauck will be on the sidelines next season as the special teams coach at San Diego State. The SDSU Aztecs have been bowl regulars in recent years narrowly losing to Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl this past December. Aztecs head coach Rocky Long worked with Hauck when both were on Terry Donahue’s staff at UCLA.

Fifty years ago this week the Montana Grizzly basketball team took a break from Big Sky play to travel to Las Vegas and play in the Rebel Round-up, a tournament featuring Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton and the host UNLV Rebels. The Griz used a modified slow-down offense to rein in fast paced Cal-Fullerton and then UNLV to claim the tournament title.

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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.