Advantage Butte meeting turns attention to wrestling

Advantage Butte meeting turns attention to wrestling

By Bruce Sayler

A small turnout for Tuesday’s November Advantage Butte meeting discussed and acted on a list of business items. The meeting was held at the Butte Plaza Inn.

Matt Stepan was one of the busier individuals at the meeting – as the Montana Tech athletic director and as an active member of the Butte Wrestling Club.

Wearing his Montana Tech hat, Stepan introduced Tommy Heppler, recently named associate director of athletic department, for the Montana Tech Foundation. He will have promotional and other duties with the college’s athletics, Stepan said.

“I am working with Montana Tech to make athletics successful,” Heppler told the group. “We set a high bar for football, and we fell a little bit short. It’s not how you fall, but how you get back up.”

The Orediggers just missed a Frontier Conference football title and a spot in the NAIA playoffs, finishing their season with a 7-3 record and No. 24 national rank.

Heppler added that volleyball, recently qualified for the NAIA Tournament, golf and cross country all had successful fall seasons for Montana Tech. Four cross country runners will vie at nationals. The Orediggers will play host to a volleyball playoff match on Saturday with Montana Tech playing Westmont (California) in the HPER Complex, the winner advancing to the Sioux City, Iowa, national finals.

Heppler added that the men’s and women’s basketball teams from Montana Tech are off to good starts on their winter campaigns.

Bill Melvin, manager of the Butte Civic Center, said the HYPOXIA 22 crossfit event usually held at the Civic Center will be held December 3, but at the Copper King Inn. The Civic Center is unavailable until late January because of its use for production of the “1923” television mini-series. Melvin said the Butte High-Butte Central boys’ and girls’ basketball games have been rescheduled for January 31 in the Civic Center and will be the first sporting event in the arena this school year.

Rody Holman, chief of the Advantage Butte executive board, presided over the meeting. Holman represents PayneWest Insurance. Melissa Bolton of the Butte Plaza Inn/Best Western serves as the group’s secretary and reported the Butte 100 mountain bike event will open registration in January for the 2023 race. The announcement came from event owner Stephanie Sorini, who is also the chief executive of the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce.

Brenda Hergott, development director for Montana Special Olympics, praised Advantage Butte and the Butte community for the work done in putting on the Special Olympics State Basketball Tournament recently. Hergott said seven Butte venues were used in holding the tournament of more than 160 games involving 89 teams.

“The tournament went very well,” she said. “The opening ceremonies were so much fun, the dance and the carnival were wonderful, and so many people in Butte got involved with it all. Bob Green, J.P. Gallagher and many, many more got involved. With Advantage Butte, there were 31 sponsors.”

Hergott presented Holman with a gift of a framed commemorative picture from Special Olympics sports to be displayed where Advantage Butte decides. This year’s tournament was the last in a three-year run for Butte playing host. The tourney goes to Helena next fall to start its three-run there before returning to Butte in 2026, Hergott said.

Holman talked about The Jim Street Mining City Duals high school wrestling tournament, set for the second weekend in December, and about the Butte Wrestling Club managing the event. The tournament will be in the Butte High School gyms because of the Civic Center being temporarily occupied for TV production.

Action Tuesday saw Advantage Butte approve up to $1,600 to be given to fund a hospitality room for the tournament. Holman said a request for financial help was recently received and advised “we should look on it favorably.” Discussion centered on the tourney being good for Butte business and for the image of the community. Melvin moved the group OK funding up to $1,600 with receipts required. Buttesports.com seconded the motion through rep Bruce Sayler and the motion passed on a unanimous voice vote.

“We should move forward and fund it, cover receipts,” Melvin said prior to the vote.

“I think this is an important year for that tournament,” Stepan said. “It has always been a marquee tournament in Butte and I know there are plans to expand it regionally.”

Wrestlers continue to be cultivated in Butte, which has historical tradition in the sport.

Stepan added that the wrestling club offered free registration this year.

“The mission is to provide access to all Butte boys and girls wishing to participate,” he said.

Stepan said Montana Tech has been a busy place in recent days with the school playing host to seven events in 10 days recently. Basketball, volleyball and football competitions were in the count along with the Special Olympics.

The volleyball playoff Saturday, and men’s basketball games Friday and Saturday in the HPER Complex will keep the facility buzzing this weekend.

Butte High Activities Director Chuck Merrifield noted large undertakings on the school year schedule include the Western AA Seeding Tournament for wrestling at the Civic Center February 3-4, the state Class AA basketball tournaments in March, and then the state Class AA-B track meet at the end of May. He said volunteers will be asked to help with many to be needed for the track meet.

Treasurer Brad Spear, representing the Anderson ZurMuehlen accounting firm, said Advantage Butte has $25,273 in the bank with $23,100 committed to events. He added invoiced to renew memberships for this school year have been mailed.

The next Advantage Butte meeting is scheduled for December 20 at the Butte Plaza Inn.

 



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