Any varsity squad led by a kid named Stormy Day brings an element of excitement to the wrestling mat.
Especially when the kid’s only a freshman.
Day, the Glacier Wolfpack’s freshman phenom wrestler, has grappled his way to a 31-5 record this season, which is an impressive feat no matter how old or in what weight class a wrestler is. But for a freshman in the highly competitive 125-pound class, it’s remarkable, said coach Mark Fischer.
Fischer said he had heard about Day before he even got to high school, but didn’t want to build up expectations too much for a freshman entering one of the toughest weight classes. Then he watched Day wrestle.
“It was like, ‘Whoa, we’ve got a gem here,’” Fischer said.
Led by Day, the Wolfpack have held their own in Class AA wrestling this season, collecting wins and turning heads along the way. Glacier’s performance in its inaugural season has even exceeded the expectations of some of its own wrestlers, including Day and fellow standout Jordan Nelson.
“We really have surprised a lot of people,” said Nelson, a 130-pound junior.
Among the opponents perhaps surprised by the Wolfpack this year are Polson and Bozeman. After Polson beat Glacier by 12 points, the Wolfpack came back a week later in a rematch and flipped the score around, defeating the Pirates by 12 points. At the Mining City Duals, Glacier tied Bozeman, a strong AA squad, before losing on a tiebreaker criteria decision.
“I’m pretty impressed with where we’re at,” said Fischer, who was an assistant at Flathead High last season. “I think our kids are right at the corner where they’re really ready to make progress. Kids are being able to wrestle a full six minutes now.”
Some Wolfpack grapplers have never wrestled before and are learning the ropes on the J.V. squad. And other more experienced wrestlers still are new to the varsity level. Of Glacier’s 24 J.V. and varsity wrestlers, only three are juniors. The rest are sophomores and freshmen.
Fischer said as the team grows and gains experience, he is relying on a few kids, aside from Day, to carry the load. He said Nelson and John Frandsen, who wrestle at 215 pounds, are as good as anyone in their weight classes when they perform to their potential.
“He can compete with anyone in the state,” Fischer said of Nelson, “once he starts believing.”
Glacier has earned a few quality wins this year, including victories over Whitefish and Missoula Hellgate. At the same time, the Wolfpack’s inexperience has shown against some of the more dominant AA squads, like in their recent 65-10 loss to Missoula Sentinel and 70-9 loss to Flathead. But Fischer said, like with the school’s other sports, this is a building year and losses like that will come.
“Experience-wise,” Fischer said, “we don’t have a lot of strengths. For us to win some duals we have to match up really well.”
Two important components of that building process are the coaching staff’s chemistry and support from the community and school. Fischer said the support – from parents to school administration to the community – has been more than he could have asked for. And as for coaching chemistry, he said the team has its bases covered there, with a staff that includes brothers Bill and Bob Owen. The Owen brothers and Fischer are all products of the Polson High School wrestling system.
“We all share the same philosophy,” Fischer said. “I am very impressed with our coaching staff.”
With the rest of the team strengthening itself around him, Day said he’s pleasantly surprised with how much the Wolfpack have improved as a whole. They’re heading in the right direction, he said.
“It’s going to take some time,” Day said.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.