(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.
No. 8 – Tyrel Todd
Treasure State wrestlers have fared particularly well at the national level with many placing and capturing all-American honors. Only a select few have won junior or senior national titles, including former Bozeman standout Tyrel Todd.
Tyrel Todd stat sheet
Todd stamped his name in the Montana record books, by capturing three state championships at Bozeman High School in 2002, 2003 and 2004. A four-time finalist, he fell in the 145-pound finale his freshman season, losing to Great Falls High three-time champion, Kole Tolliver in a third period fall.
Todd rebounded as a sophomore, moving up to 160 pounds where he posted an undefeated season capped by a 9-4 decision in the state championship match.
In 2003, Todd again posted a perfect season – not losing a single match en route to his second consecutive title, this time at 171 pounds. His four wins at the state tournament came by fall, technical fall, major decision and technical fall.
As a senior he competed in the 189-pound class and again qualified for the state championship match where he defeated Kalispell’s Greg Thompson. He finished his prep career in Bozeman with a record of 136-6, with the three state titles and two undefeated seasons.
In 2004 Todd competed on the national stage, winning the 171-pound senior national championship. He also claimed a fifth-place finish in the junior national championship, two spots better than his seventh-place finish as a junior in high school.
Todd continued his career in the mighty Big 10 at the University of Michigan. As a redshirt freshman he competed in three open tournaments, placing fourth, third and first. He finished the year with a 14-3 record.
In 2005-06, Todd gained more national coverage after taking second-ranked Paul Bradley of Iowa to overtime. Following a fifth-place finish in the Big 10 championships, he qualified for his first NCAA Championships where he posted a 1-2 record.
The following year he posted a career-best mark of 28 wins and eight losses including a 10-3 record in duals. His third-place finish at the Big 10 championships again qualified him for nationals where he earned all-American honors with a fifth-place finish after pinning Ohio State’s Mike Pucillo in the fifth-place match.
His career continued its steady incline in 2007-08 with a new personal best 34 wins – six by pinfall, one technical fall and 11 major decisions. The runner-up at the Big 10 championships, Todd lost in the second round of the NCAA Championships but rallied to finish third in the nation after going 7-1 in the tournament. The finish gave him all-American honors for the second straight season.
As a fifth-year senior, Todd earned his elusive Big 10 championship after defeating top-seeded Dallas Herbst 5-4, though the match wasn’t as close as the final score. He joined elite Michigan company during the season after posting his 100th career win and qualifying for another NCAA Championship appearance. Todd finished fourth in the nation after a 4-2 record at the 2009 championships, capping his career with his third all-American season.
He left the Wolverines program as a Big 10 distinguished scholar and academic all-conference selection.
… on Todd
Former Laurel wrestling coach and current Bozeman head coach Nate Laslovich: “He was wrestling when I coached at Laurel – he was at Bozeman – and I had a state champion at Laurel that I told Tyrel wasn’t that tough, he was a pretty-boy from Bozeman and you better get after him. He came off the mat and said, ‘You’re a liar. That’s the toughest guy I’ve ever wrestled.’ That’s one of the first times I ever saw Tyrel wrestle, he pummeled our guy. After that he was training for senior nations, which he ended up winning, I came and worked out with him a few times in Bozeman and then ended up getting a job here and worked out a lot with him over the next however many years. He comes back home and is in our room a ton.
“He was a brawler and was very technical. He would really wear a guy out, make them super tired and then just beat them up until they broke and quit. I watched him do that for three years in high school. I didn’t see him much his freshman year but I watched him the next three years just torture people. He was a brawler with great work ethic, he was super-technical and athletic.
“He won high school nationals when it was legitimate – everybody went to the high school national tournament and he won that in 2004 so I think the expectations were super high. He was a three-time all-American at Michigan and his senior year he blew his ACL before Christmas and had to wrestle the rest of the year with a torn ACL. Had that not happened I’m pretty sure he would have been a national champion. It’s very difficult to wrestle on a torn ACL at all but to wrestle on it at that level and take fourth in nationals is tough. Earlier in the year he was the No. 1 ranked guy. I think the expectations were super-high. … Tyrel Todd, the expectation for him was super-high because he placed high at national events and that’s why he was a blue-chip recruit out of high school. It was a no-brainer he was going to be at that level.
“The match that stands out most to me is when he beat Jake Herbert, a Hodge trophy winner and two or three-time NCAA champion and Olympian, Tyrel was 2-0 against him in international wrestling, wrestling freestyle. That’s when Herbert was pretty much untouchable for any other American, Tyrel beat him those couple years. Those stood out in my mind.
“The biggest thing for him, the guy was gritty. If you worked out with him in the room as practice went on or in matches as they went on, people would crumble. Guys would wear out and he would keep brawling and beating you up.”