(Editor’s note: MTN Sports began recognizing some of the best wrestlers in Montana history on Jan. 16 with the launch of the #MTTop20. Athletes will continue to be featured until Friday, Feb. 10 when No. 1 is unveiled.)
Top 20 rankings: No. 20 – Jarrett Degen; No. 19 – Luke Weber, No. 18 — Ben Stroh, No. 17 — Curtis Owen, No. 16 — Chris Currier, No. 15 — Chris Nedens, No. 14 — Kyle Smith, No. 13 — Jade Rauser.
No. 12 – Scott Barrett, Great Falls High
The 1950s, 60s and 70s introduced some of the great, early wrestlers in Montana’s history. With multiple three-time state champions, including Butte’s Bill Krum and Big Sandy’s Duane Olson or even Chester’s Chad Lybeck, the sport began to take off in the Treasure State. While a handful of those athletes would go on to fine college careers, perhaps none were more successful at the next level than Scott Barrett.
Scott Barrett stat sheet
The first three- or four-time state champion in Great Falls High’s history, Scott Barrett won his three titles from 1976 to 1978. He began his career in the 98-pound weight class, capturing his first individual title for the Bison. A season later and one weight class up, Barrett again stood atop the podium after winning the 105-pound championship. He capped his high school career with a 119-pound title and finished with a 79-7 record.
Barrett was the trailblazer for future Bison three-time champions including: Jeff Thompson, Dustin Young, Jesse Young, Brandon Caldwell, Kole Toliver, Zach Mendenhall and Tommy McMillen.
Barrett earned the opportunity to travel to Yugoslavia as part of a cultural exchange team and finished runner-up at the AAU grand nationals. He also won five Montana AAU championships.
But Barrett’s career truly took off at Boise State University where he remains arguably the top wrestler in program history.
The Great Falls High grad won four consecutive Big Sky Conference individual championships from 1979 to 1982. Each title came in the 126-pound class. Barrett competed in four NCAA national championships, finishing in second place in the 1982 tournament. The runner-up finish was the best in Broncos’ wrestling history.
Barrett won 82 percent of his matches at Boise State, posting a record of 115-25-1. He was named BSU outstanding senior athlete in 1983 and was inducted into the Boise State athletic hall of fame six years later. He also earned an opportunity to compete for the United States national team in 1981 and wrestled at the 1983 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Like many in the #MTTop20, Barrett turned to coaching after his personal wrestling career came to a close. He headed the Elko High School program in Nevada, leading the team to a second place finish in the 1988 state tournament. The following season he led Elko to the team title at the Nevada state championships. Elko finished fourth in both 1990 and 1991.
Barrett’s coaching career continued at Spring Creek High School with another state championship and runner-up finish. He was named coach of the year each season.
Barrett has since retired from coaching high school wrestling and still resides in Nevada where he is a teacher.
… on Scott Barrett
Former Great Falls High and Montana State wrestler Mike Ranieris: “The thing about Scott, it didn’t really matter what the score was at any time, he just had such a powerful finish in his matches. I saw him many times come from behind to upset people or beat people when he was behind in the score. As a matter of fact, I think it was his senior year in the state championship and he was behind by about four or five points and he let the kid go, took him down, turned him to his back to win the match in the final seconds. He was one of those hard-working guys who never gave up and the score never mattered; he wrestled the full six minutes. His desire to win was unbelievable.
“He was competitive on his feet. He had a move that nobody could stop, an outside carry. He could take someone from their feet to their back for five points at any time. He was just so quick and fast with his special move and he was pretty dominant with it.
“He was the first wrestler in the history of Boise State to ever place in the NCAAs. It seems like since he’s done that, there have been several since then. But he was the first one, he was the trailblazer that put Boise State on the map.
“He was a hard-nosed kid that worked really hard, trained really hard and was just a good person. He was a kid that followed the rules, was a very coach-able person and well-liked guy who was very dedicated to the sport. Nothing got in his way other than training and it pays off.”