(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, No. 11 — Gary Albright, No. 10 — Turk Lords.
No. 9 – Larry Quisel, Livingston
Dozens of wrestlers from Montana have perfected the fall, winning their match by pin. A handful have been recognized at the state level, but only a select few have been honored on the national scene. Each year at the NCAA Championships, one wrestler is recognized as the Gorrarian Award winner – the wrestler with the most falls in the least amount of time. Former Livingston standout Larry Quisel captured that prestigious honor during his days at Boise State.
Larry Quisel stat sheet
Quisel opened his prep career with a runner-up finish at the 1992 state tournament, falling to Cody Jessen in the 119-pound title match and helping Livingston to a fifth-place team finish.
The following season he battled back from a second-round loss to capture third place in the 130-pound class. The sophomore had gathered the attention of Class A coaches entering his junior year.
In 1994, Quisel entered the state tournament as the favorite at 135 pounds and lived up to the expectations. His first match was a victory by fall in 19 seconds. The momentum carried him to the title bout where he faced Laurel’s A.J. Ellison and won in an 8-2 decision.
Quisel capped his high school career with another individual title at 135 pounds, though his final prep match would be one of his greatest challenges. Sidney’s Shay Wyman opened up an early lead, but Quisel rallied until the final period for an 8-7 victory and his second consecutive championship.
Recruited by Boise State, he would join an elite list of athletes in Bronco history to become all-Americans. He won Pac-10 championships in 1999 and 2000, each at 157 pounds and continued the impressive seasons at the national level.
In 1999, Quisel lost a highly controversial first match at the NCAA Championships but became the first wrestler in history to win eight consecutive matches on his way to a third-place finish. He was honored with the Gorrarian Award after tallying the most falls in the least amount of time.
In 2000, Quisel added to his all-American resume with another incredible showing at the NCAA Championships. In his semifinal match against Iowa powerhouse T.J. Williams, Quisel beat the Hawkeye star and ended his streak of 67 consecutive wins.
He fell in the 157-pound title match but the runner-up finish earned him another all-American honor. He is still considered one of the great athletes in Boise State’s history.
… on Quisel
Sidney High School wrestling coach Guy Melby: “Probably the first year he placed, that’s when we knew about him. Livingston wasn’t really on our grid because we never saw them until the state tournament. But his name became familiar when he was just a placer and then a two-time state champion. Those types of kids, especially at the state tournament, you can’t wait for them to come up in the finals to watch them because you can always learn stuff, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at it. I’m always eager to watch a really good wrestling match on TV or at the Metra or wherever. I know when his name came up I was always going down to watch just to see if I could pick a few things up off of him.
“Very, very tough man. That’s what I remember about him, he was a tough kid. He was never out of a match – like I said, (former Sidney wrestler Shay Wyman) jumped on him 7-0 and he battled back and beat us in the finals. That, to me, is pretty impressive for a kid to do that while keeping his composure and fighting back off 7-0. I was telling Shay to keep his foot on the pedal because we knew (Quisel) had a tank on him and could come back. He kept coming back, I know we were still ahead going into the third period and we may have scored a couple escapes in there because he cut us, but he wore us out and won it. It was a classic matchup because when it was done, all I can remember is seeing both of their faces and bodies, because both were so physical, they literally had lumps on their heads. They were physical that way. You could tell they had been through a battle and to me it was a classic matchup that we fell on the short end of the stick on, but man, I would go back and watch it again in a second.
“I had a chance to watch him at the national tournament when he wrestled for Boise State, I watched him live when he took third. He was very, very impressive and very, very physical. He was always in great shape. Anytime you can become an all-American, especially at Division I, that’s impressive. It’s impressive for sure.”