BILLINGS — The town of Glasgow is pretty proud of its wrestling heritage.

And why shouldn't it be? The Glasgow Scotties have captured 12 state team titles and have won a first-, second- or third-place trophy 29 times at the state tourney. Overall, a Scottie has won an individual state championship 65 times and a Glasgow wrestler has been a state placer with a top-six finish 263 times. Brenner Flaten graduated from Glasgow High in 2002 and was a two-time state champ. He is in his fourth year as activities director at Glasgow and is a historian when it comes to Glasgow wrestling. 

"Glasgow has been pretty fortunate over the years," said Flaten. "The people in Glasgow are proud of our wrestling tradition."

Included in Glasgow's wrestling history is the annual Scottie Invitational. This will be the 22nd annual tourney, but over the past two seasons it has grown into one of the top early-season events in the area.

A dual tournament will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday with most teams getting four or five duals. The dual tourney will wrap up at approximately 8 p.m. on Friday. On Saturday, the 16-man bracket tourney begins at 9 a.m. with the championships starting at approximately 5 p.m. 

Duals tourney competition will be held on three mats and a fourth mat will be for mixer matches.

"Some of the Class C schools are a little smaller," said fourth-year Scotties coach Jory Casterline. "The teams that can't fill a dual team, we'll combine a couple of teams to fill a dual tournament. But there will be a mixer mat and it will run matches all day long. It will be a JV mat and we'll get matches on that all day."

This year, 21 schools will be participating, including: Glasgow, Billings Central, Sidney, Glendive, Wolf Point, Poplar, Frazer, Circle, Fairfield, Choteau, Shepherd, Valier, Hardin, Baker, Simms, Chinook, Harlem, Chester-Joplin-Inverness, Hays-Lodgepole, Fort Benton-Big Sandy and Malta. 

While the tourney is in its 22nd year, it was only last season that it grew to include 20 teams. Flaten said that when he wrestled in the tourney, there were six or seven teams that competed, and for as long as he can remember, the field was of similar size and a one-day event. 

Flaten and Casterline both said that the Glasgow Tourism Business Improvement District helped in the recruitment of teams that traveled a long distance to the tourney and didn't traditionally venture to it by helping with lodging expenses. The Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has also supported the tourney.

"Our vision for the tournament was to make it a better one all the way around," Flaten said. "We knew the Mining City Duals in Butte was this weekend and a lot of teams go there and it is a fun event, but there are a lot of teams that don't go to that or aren't invited to that. So we wanted to make Glasgow the go-to destination for those teams not going to Butte."

Casterline graduated from Glasgow in 1994 and won a state championship for the Scotties. He was a three-time finalist, a four-time state placer and a member of the 1993 state B-C champions. He said that strengthening the tournament will help to strengthen the Scotties team and wrestling on the Hi-Line.

"It was to the point when I took this coaching job, our tournament had really fallen off," he said. "Some teams weren't attending. It was to the point we had to do something for ourselves; either we had to leave our own tournament and go somewhere to wrestle or bring some teams in.

"In Glasgow, there is not a lot going on in Northeast Montana in the middle of winter and the second week of December. It's a shot in the economy as well. That's why we get so much backing. ... Everybody benefits, not just wrestling, but Eastern Montana and Glasgow really benefit from this tournament as well."

Both Casterline and Flaten agree that the Scotties have passionate fans. That fan base consists of knowledgeable wrestling fans who enjoy a good show.

Flaten said Glasgow hosted the State A wrestling tourney on four different occasions in the 1970s and 1980s. And, the future looks bright for the sport in Glasgow, where were 87 youth on the AAU team last year, and as Flaten notes, "There is really good participation to have that kind of numbers for a town of 3,200."

And while the wrestling spotlight will be on this Valley County town this weekend, a spotlight will also shine down on the wrestlers in their championship bouts.  

"We'll wrestle the finals under the lights," Casterline said. "We'll pull one mat out. I don't know if you've ever been to a dual in Glasgow, but we have one of the best dual facilities in the state. We have nice lights that come down from the ceiling and we black out the gym and it's pretty fun. It's a good atmosphere for wrestling."

Email John Letasky at john.letasky@406mtsports.com or follow him on Twitter at @GazSportsJohnL

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