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For Missoula Big Sky's Izzy and Rick Moreno, wrestling is a family affair

Rick and Izzy Moreno.jpg
Posted at 7:34 PM, Jan 23, 2022

MISSOULA — Wrestling is a family affair for Rick and Izzy Moreno.

And last March, the duo achieved the highest of the highs when Izzy won his first state wrestling title at 132 pounds as a sophomore for Missoula Big Sky.

It's a moment they both think about to this day.

"It's crazy I still think it like every day and that's what I think about doing again this year," Izzy said. "Motivates me all the time."

For Izzy it was about getting over the hump and winning a state title after placing fifth as a freshman at 120 pounds.

"Everybody just sees when you're out there and you're wrestling but nobody sees getting up at 5 in the morning and getting a workout in," Rick added. "Nobody sees late nights running by yourself when it's cold. Nobody sees the eating right and just the sacrifice. All those kinds of things, and at moments in time having that self-doubt and having to be that coach and dad and having to bring them back up and it's all those things and it just comes all together in that one moment, and it's him."

Now a junior, Izzy jumped two weight classes from a year ago to 145 pounds this season for the Eagles, and has racked up a 25-4 record this season as the lone defending state wrestling champion in Missoula.

With that leap in weight classes, Izzy has been working to keep his strengths, while adjusting techniques with the larger competition.

"I use speed a lot when I wrestle, like I'm not the strongest guy so I have to use speed a lot and I've noticed that especially moving up for weight classes, you face a lot of stronger guys, so I just need to make sure to use my speed instead of my strength," Izzy said.

For Rick, who serves as Big Sky's head wrestling coach, it's about continuing to let his son grow on the mats.

Izzy wrestles year-round at national tournaments outside of the high school season, but Rick said he never pushed his son to the sport and let it come naturally.

The duo also balance the father-son and coach-wrestler dynamic, knowing there are boundaries to be set to find success.

"When I'm in this room, I'm coach, and I'm going to run it like I do any other kid but when we're at we never talk about it," Rick said. "I'm dad at home and I think it's very important to have those established relationships and we do. If he suffers a loss, we talk about it in the facility when he's ready and when we're on the road or we're at home, that's it.

"And it's hard, it is hard at times but I'd rather be dad than be coach any day. That's what's going to last forever."

But a goal of Izzy's? Beat his dad on the mats someday, but that's easier said than done as Rick was a two-time state wrestling champ in his day back in Iowa.

"No not really," Izzy said about if it's ever been close. "He's on another level."

Rick added with a laugh, "Every year Father Time is whooping my butt so I think maybe when I'm 98 years old and I can't walk anymore, he'll get a good shot at maybe beating me, but as of right now, no."