It was started over 40 years ago by legendary Hellgate and Big Sky wrestling coach Laney Bryant. And now in it’s 41st year, the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic continues to bring the best teams from all across the Inland Northwest. And the son of the tournament’s name sake is in charge of putting on the whole show.
“What he did for wrestling in this state and this region, I think he put a pretty good stamp on this sport. And I certainly think what he stood for is something that all coaches should do.” says Ron “Whitey” Beck.
And the continued tradition of the tournament spans generations.
“Laney Bryant started the tournament. Laney Bryant coached Dan Randles, our coach. Dan Randles coaches me. And now I’m here coaching kids that will hopefully come back. It’s just a really cool tradition.” says Lewiston High School head coach Ty Aiken.
For Aiken’s Lewiston team, and the teams outside the state of Montana, getting the chance to experience wrestlers from Big Sky Country helps them turn the corner for their postseason.
“The Montana breed is completely different. Hardnose, hard hands. It’s a wake up call for us. It’s a whole different style of wrestling, which I enjoy.” Aiken says.
“It’s just like some new people to wrestle, and there are some good kids that come from there. So you just get to see what it’s like to wrestle outside of Montana.” says Big Sky junior wrestler Mason Corcoran.
But the competition stops at the gym door, as the wrestlers and coaches get to experience life off the mat in the Garden City.
“Last year, we housed our kids with the same families that I stayed with when I was a wrestler. 20, 15 years ago. They are staying in the same basemen with the same families… it’s just a cool tradition.” says Aiken.