(AUDIO: Sidney Eagles coach Guy Melby discuss his 500th career dual win)
SIDNEY — Guy Melby has seen a lot of history in his 32 years as the Sidney High School head wrestling coach. Friday afternoon, he once again became part of that history.
Melby won his 500th career dual at the Class A duals in Lewistown, notching the milestone win as his Eagles defeated Livingston 69-6. Sidney went on to win the championship match, topping hometown Lewistown 54-15.
“Reaching that is an aiming point for a lot of coaches and I’m sure a lot of coaches don’t even know about it. I don’t know if anyone in Montana has done it or not, I’m not sure, but it goes to show the consistency in our program over the years,” said Melby. “I guess when you stick around for 32 years you better start winning some duals. That’s kind of fun. I know our coaching staff is pretty excited about it and our kids are pretty excited about it, to be part of something like that. Thirty-two years is some good, solid wrestling and that’s what you get.”
Melby entered this winter with 475 dual wins, a mark his coaching staff closely monitored as the Eagles travelled around the state this season. Melby now sits at 503 career dual wins, widely believed to be No. 1 in Montana’s high school wrestling history.
Eight state championship trophies also hang in Sidney High School, tied for the sixth-best all-time, while a dozen more second- and third-place trophies are also on display. Melby’s Sidney program is credited with crowning 70 individual champions, also among Montana’s best.
The trophies, championships and accolades are hard to fathom for Melby at times, considering where the program was when he and his staff first came aboard.
“We were not very good. I think before I got there they were like 23rd or 24th in the state. My first year we ended up, I think 10th, and then my second year we were third, then we won it two years in a row,” Melby said. “There aren’t very many times we come home from the state tournament without a trophy. The ones we don’t come home with a trophy are the ones I remember. They’re the thorn in your side.
“This program has come a long way and it’s a tribute to what a great sports town Sidney is, and it really is a great sports town. It’s a tribute to the great assistants I’ve had through the years, and last but not least, the great athletes that have come through Sidney. … I know we have a championship shirt with all of our state placers on the back, and if someone asks me a question about ‘Well, what happened back in the year 2000?’ I just look at the shirt. Over the years, 32 years kind of run together and I forget which year is which, but there have been some great athletes coming through here. To win 500 duals, you’re not going to do that without some great athletes.”
Melby has seen nearly everything Montana wrestling has had to offer. A Sidney graduate himself, he coached his own sons — Gary, Gresh, Beau and Grady — and has mentored some of the top grapplers in state history, including Brandon Eggum, who landed at No. 4 on the MontanaSports.com #MTTop20, a list of the best wrestlers in Montana’s history.
But Melby has also taken his program outside the Treasure State as he constantly searches for the top competition. In fact, some of those matches are the first to come to mind when he recalls his greatest dual memories.
“One that sticks out pretty good is, Minot, N.D. was ranked No. 2 in the nation and we were like 16th or 17th one year. I called their coach and said, ‘Hey man, we have to get together and wrestle. We’re three hours apart, there’s no reason we shouldn’t compete.’ We had them come down here and we went to our junior high, which is our old high school and it’s a great place to have a dual, and we packed the place. There’s a balcony up top, and the whole place was just full. It came down to the last match and we ended up losing that last match. The end score was like 38-36, that last match won it, and we ended up losing it. But what a great atmosphere and great dual. We lost that year, so of course I remember that one,” he said.
“Another time, we got invited to the Final Four of high school wrestling in Easton, Penn. back in 2006,” he continued. “We had just won three championships in a row and were going into our fourth. We ended up wrestling the Blair Academy, and they can recruit kids to come to their school. They just handed it to us. I remember that trip. We won two matches out of 14. There are so many through the years that have meant a lot to me and meant a lot to this program, but those two stick out because they were so exciting, and it just so happens that they were both losses. That’s one of the things we do here is learn from losses. We learn from wins, as well, but losses hurt a little bit more and make you think about what you need to get better at. We build on that.”
Melby’s current Eagles roll into the latter part of the season as arguably the hottest team in Montana’s Class A. Top-ranked and coming off the Class A dual championship, the program looks to be a legit contender to end Havre’s streak of five consecutive state titles.
Capturing win No. 500, and then No. 503, has the student-athletes excited to make more history for Melby, who modestly says he “loves showcasing the kids’ records’ in the Sidney wrestling room. But Melby’s accomplishments are also on display — the eight state championships, the individual medalists, and eventually the 500-plus dual wins.
Despite all the hardware, one can’t help but notice room remains to add to those 500 wins. Perhaps 1,000 is the next pinnacle to reach?
“Yeah, I don’t know if I have 32 more years left in me,” Melby laughed. “I’m not sure about that one. I might have 30 left in me, who knows. I was at those Class A duals this week and everyone was asking me, ‘Hey, I heard you’re retiring.’ ‘What? That’s the first I’ve heard of that.’ No, I’m having too much fun to retire.”