With ’72 track team, Griz Hall gains Butte flavor

MISSOULA — The Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame is about to get a little more Mining City flavor.

The 1972 University of Montana Big Sky Conference champion men’s track team will be introduced into the Hall this fall, UM athletic director Kent Haslam announced today.

Soccer star Courtney (Mathieson) Jenkins will also be inducted. She’ll be the 51st individual to join the prestigious group. The ’72 track team becomes the fifth team to be inducted. Last year Montana’s 2001 Division I-AA national championship football team joined the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame.

The induction banquet will be held Friday Sept. 20, at a site yet to be determined. They will also be introduced prior to the Grizzly-Oklahoma PanhandleState University football game in Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 21.

The ’72 team included Butte High graduates Tom Roberts and the late Mike Hotzel. The team was coached by Butte native Harvey Lewis, also a Butte High grad. His assistant was Butte Central graduate Jerry Downey.

More than four decades ago, Montana’s 1972 track and field squad scored 147 points en route to the first (and only) league crown for the Grizzlies in that sport. The Big Sky will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2013-14.

Despite winning just one league track and field title, Montana was a dominant squad in the Big Sky’s first 12 seasons, from 1964 to 1975. In that time span, the Grizzlies placed second in the Big Sky meet six times (1965, 1967-70, and 1975). The only time that Montana has placed in the top two in the past 38 seasons (since 1975), was a second place finish in 2002, when they hosted the conference meet.

The Griz tracksters placed in 17 of 18 events (UM had no placers in the long jump) in the conference championship meet which was held in Boise, Idaho, and 14 of the athletes who scored points were from the state of Montana. Of the 34 lettermen on the 1972 track and field team, 21 came from the Treasure State.

“Historically, the University of Montana track teams had been comprised of really good individuals, who as a group was always competitive for a conference championship, but they never competed together as a team and came up short of a title,” said Lewis, UM’s head track and cross country coach from 1966-78, who was inducted into the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame in October of 1998. “The 1972 team was different. Some members of that team came so close to winning in 1969 and 1970 (they placed second both of those seasons), but in 1972 they were determined and not to be denied. They all rallied around one another, they all peaked physically and emotionally at the right time, and as a result they made history at the university.

“That team had great leadership with its team captains Bill Zins and Al Joscelyn, and every single team member knew what they had to do to win and each of them played a role,” said Lewis, a Butte native and Griz track and field letterman from 1960-63. “There were individual conference champions, but it was the togetherness and the support for one another that won the day. Every single person had a goal, and it was one of those rare times in sports that most all of those goals were met. As one succeeded, others fed on that success and rose to their best to score points. It was truly a team championship in an individual sport. I was very proud of them in 1972, and I am very proud of them now for being inducted into the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame.”

Darby native Rick Brown set a Big Sky record in the 440 (47.3), and George Cook (Highland Falls, N.Y.) set a standard in the steeplechase (8:58.9). Craig Stiles (Malta) won a conference title in `72, and set a school record earlier in the season in the javelin at 255-10, which is still the best mark in Montana history.

Brown was Montana’s top point-getter, winning the 440, and he finished second in the 220, and he was also a member of both the relay teams. UM’s other first-place finisher along with Brown, Cook, and Stiles, was Glenn Chaffey of Missoula in the triple jump.

“I feel honored and humbled by our team’s selection to the Grizzly Hall of Fame,” said Zins, a sprinter from Great Falls. “The friendships developed from our team continue through today, and this honor is as special as this team.”

“This is a great honor being associated with great athletes, but I want to say we’re honoring not only this team but all the track and field athletes that have competed and are competing at the University of Montana,” said Joe Epler, a hurdler and 440-yard runner from Helena.

“Today I’m sitting here with a great big smile on my face for two reasons, the first being the Grizzlies’ win in this year’s dual meet with the Cats, and the second being the honor of having our `72 team selected for induction into the Grizzly Hall of Fame,” said Joscelyn, a hurdler from Missoula. “Who would have guessed that one of the most meaningful, and fun, aspects of that championship would come now, 41 years later.”

Roberts placed fifth in the high jump by clearing 6 feet, 2 inches at the Big Sky meet. Roberts, who retired after a long career as Butte High’s girls’ track coach after last season, cleared 6-7 at one point during the season.

“To me, that was the ultimate team, and now we’re getting the ultimate honor from the University of Montana,” Roberts said. “To be honored with the past and present athletes at UM is very special.”

Montana’s point scorers and their marks in the 1972 Big Sky Track & Field Championships at Boise, Idaho:
100 Yards — 5th-Keith Kerbel, 9.9.
220 Yards — 2nd-Ric Brown, 21.5 and 5th Keith Kerbel, 21.9.
440 Yards — 1st-Ric Brown, 47.3*.
880 Yards — 3rd-Dick Miller, 1:52.8.
Mile — 2nd-Hans Templeton, 4:21.5.
Three Mile — 3rd-Doug Darko, 13:54.3 and 5th-Wes Priestly, 14:27.7.
3000-Meter Steeplechase — 1st-George Cook, 8;58.9* and 3rd-Doug Darko, 9:07.3.
120-Yard High Hurdles — 2nd-Casey Walker, 14.7 and 3rd-Joe Epler, 14.7.
440-yard Hurdles: 6th-Alan Joscelyn, 56.2.
High Jump — 2nd-Mike Hale, 6-7 and 5th-Tom Roberts, 6-2.
Triple Jump — 1st-Glenn Chaffey, 47-10 1/4 and 3rd-Manny Kigame, 46-7.
Pole Vault — 4th-Lee Urbaniak, 14-3.
Shot Put — 2nd-Jim Vanmansart, 51-11 and 6th-Bob Morigeau, 47-9 1/4.
Discus — 2nd-Steve Ralston, 157-2.
Javelin — 1st-Craig Stiles, 242-9 and 6th-Jeff Madsen, 207-0.
440-yard Relay — 3rd-Montana, 42.8 (Bill Codd, Keith Kerbel, Ric Brown, and Joe Epler).
Mike Relay — 2nd-Montana, 3:18.9.
*=Indicates Big Sky record

2nd—Idaho State—124
3rd—Northern Arizona—86
5th—Weber State—69
6th—Boise State—33
7th—Montana State—23

Richard Brown, 440: 47.3
George Cook, Steeplechase: 8:47.0.
Michael Hale, High Jump: 6-9.
Craig Stiles, Javelin: 255-10.

Ric Brown—440, 220, 440/Mile Relays—Darby
Glenn Chaffey—Triple Jump, Long Jump—Missoula
Bill Codd—440, 440 & /440/Mile Relays—Spokane, Wash.
Boyd Collins—Steeplechase—Billings
George Cook—Steeplechase—Highland Falls, NY
Lance Cyr—Pole Vault—Trotwood, Ohio
Doug Darko—Steeplechase, 3-mile—Great Falls
Joe Epler—High Hurdles, 440 Relay—Helena
Tom Feeley—880, Mile—Billings
Mike Hale—High Jump—Missoula
%Mike Hotzel—Distances, Steeplechase—Butte
Alan Joscelyn—440 Hurdles—Missoula
Keith Kerbel—100, 220, 440 Relay—Billings
Steve Hopkins—440—Edina, Minn.
Rick Kendall—Hurdles—Blaine, Wash.
Keith Kerbel—100, 200, Relays—Billings
Manny Kigame—Triple Jump—Kenya, Africa
Jeff Madsen—Javelin—Billings
Dick Miller—880, Mile Relay—Helena
Bob Morigeau—Shot Put, Discus—Polson
Gary Normand—Long Jump—Missoula
%Dave Pelletier—Mile—Helena
Terry Pitts—Mile, 880—Dixon
Wes Priestly—3-Mile—Spokane, Wash.
Steve Ralston—Discus—San Mateo, Calif.
Tom Roberts—High Jump—Butte
Craig Stiles—Javelin—Malta
%Hans Templeton—Mile—San Carlos, Calif.
Chris Thiem—880—Mankato, Minn.
Lee Urbaniak—Pole Vault—Spokane, Wash.
Jim Vanmansart—Shot Put—Saddle River, NJ
%Mike Wade—High Jump—Missoula
Casey Walker—120 High Hurdles—Calipatria, Calif.
Bill Zins—220, 440—Great Falls
Head Coach: Harley Lewis
Assistant Coach: Jerry Downey
Team Doctor: Dr. Robert Curry
Athletic Trainer: %Naseby Rhinehart
Student Athletic Trainers: John Evers, Steve Hackney, Wiley Kendle, Walt Serba, Dennis Murphy