Wow…just Wow!! There is no other word to describe the 2022 Montana Open Wrestling Tournament! I knew when I pulled into the Metra Park parking lot in Billings, MT and saw a line of wrestlers wrapping ALL the way around the building, this event was going to be something special!
The Montana Open Wrestling tournament, held annually in Billings, (with the exception of 2020) is probably the largest wrestling tournament in the state of Montana. It not only courts a huge number of Montana teams, but teams from all over the country. This year boasted the largest numbers yet, capping registration at 2,400 participants!
On March 26th-27th, the Fairfield Wrestling Club brought 26 wrestlers ranging from ages 6U (six years old and under) through 18U, to join 176 other teams hailing from Montana, Idaho, Washington, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Virginia (just to name a few) to compete in this challenging two day, double elimination, bracketed tournament. These wrestlers were coached by Lee Carter, Mike May, Tony May, Josh Petersen, Jeremy Tweet and Calen Yeager!
Many of the Eagle wrestlers were first time attendees at the Montana Open; only a few were veterans to the mayhem! It was a “jaw dropping” experience to see the Metra Park lined with 16 wrestling mats, filled with 2,400 competitors in addition to coaches, managers, tournament workers, and families etc., to say the least! Despite being put in what one might describe as an intimidating situation, not only did our Eagle wrestlers get down to business with outstanding, technically sound wrestling, every single one wrestled with a passion and love for the sport and the team! All of our wrestlers performed to the best of their abilities and after the first day of wrestling, according to Coach Lee Carter, 15 wrestlers were coming back to wrestle on the second day. Making it to the second day of this tournament, considering the level of competition and the size of tournament is a huge accomplishment in of its self.
After a grueling second day of wrestling, seven grapplers found themselves standing on the award podium, placing as one of the top six in their respective brackets! The Fairfield Wrestling Club placers are as follows: Tristyn Martinez, 5th in 6U 37lbs; Rodney Burton, 4th in 8U 58lbs; Logan Carter, 6th in 10U 85lbs; Kaydence Mathers, 5th in Girls 12U 82lbs; Hayley Petersen, 1st in Girls 12U 94lbs; Gracie Zbinden, 3rd in Girls 15U 88/95lbs; and Miguel Ramos, 3rd in 18U 132lbs. Huge respect and Congratulations! Coach Lee Carter stated, “…All I can say is Fairfield Wrestling Club represented well! We had lots of tears; we had lots of smiles…bruises, bloody noses, and even a bloody fingernail! We had some tough wins and some tough losses, but everyone showed up, dug deep, and wrestled their little hearts out!”
In my opinion, as a huge wrestling fan and a twelve time spectator of the Montana Open, this was one of my favorites! It was everything you would want; loud chaos, intense high-quality wrestling, tons of competition and competitors showing off their skills and unique personalities that you don’t get to see during a season tournament! All that is pretty typical, however, what made this year especially memorable to me was not just all the nostalgia that came with my son’s last high school wrestling tournament, but having the opportunity to witness the future of the Fairfield Eagle Wrestling program. Let me tell you the future is bright! Good solid wrestlers, the beginning of some great up and coming female wrestlers, young parents that are excited to carry on the torch, and without saying, outstanding coaches! The definition of excitement!! Following these wrestlers in the years to come will be something exceptional to watch!
A special thank you to Kimberly Latin, Lee Carter, Mike May, Tony May, Josh Petersen, Jeremy Tweet, and Calen Yeager! This could not have been such a great experience without all that you did! I don’t know how you did it, but I am so glad you did!