BILLINGS — Chance McLane, the three-time state champion wrestler from Bozeman High School, was named the recipient of the 2019 United States Wrestling Association of Montana Gordon Smith Award during a luncheon on Saturday at the Red Lion Hotel Grand Montana Ballroom.
The award, which comes with a scholarship, is given annually to an outstanding citizen in wrestling. McLane won Class AA state wrestling championships his freshman, junior and senior seasons, guiding Bozeman to the State AA team title in February at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
McLane was joined on stage by fellow finalists Michael Weber of Forsyth and Shane Gibson of Livingston. Colstrip’s Jackson Currier and Havre’s Martin Wilkie were also honored as finalists, though neither was present during the luncheon.
“It means a lot. I appreciate all of the support throughout all my years competing. These guys next to me mean a lot, I’ve grown up with them, competing, practicing together. Maybe things got heated, but it’s all good at the end of the day and I know we’re all really close with each other,” McLane said. “I think any one of these guys could have won this award, and they all deserve to. They’re all great guys and I think it means a lot that I was able to get it.”
The Gordon Smith Award recognizes athletic achievements but highlights a student-athlete’s accomplishments off the mat and in the community. McLane was a three-time academic all-state selection (2017-19) and has volunteered on multiple occasions in the Bozeman community, including serving as a summer youth counselor, Salvation Army gift preparation volunteer and a Bozeman Stampede livestock hand. McLane has also been a Montana USAW official since 2013.
“I try my best, I try to be my very best every day, I try to give back to my community, help the young wrestlers coming up learn their place and try to get them the best they can be so I can leave a legacy behind,” said McLane. “I try to give back to my community and spend a lot of time in the classroom and just helping out each and every wrestler in Montana if I can.”
“I think Bozeman is really close to my heart and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” he continued. “I love the community and all the support from everybody, it’s really great. There are a lot of kids in the valley, a lot of great partners and great coaches that push you, travel with you, get you to be the best you can be. Not only is it about wrestling, but they all make you good people.”
Boasting a cumulative GPA of 3.55, McLane has been enrolled in various AP courses at Bozeman High School with plans of becoming a doctor.
On the mats, McLane was one of the most-decorated prep wrestlers in Montana. He tallied a career record of 156-13 and was a 10-time Montana USAW free style and 10-time folkstyle champion, six-time greco champion, eight-time Montana Open champion and was three times a Montana triple crown winner.
He captured national championships in freestyle and greco in 2011 and was named USAW west regionals outstanding wrestler in 2011 and 2013.
McLane will attend Oklahoma State on a wrestling scholarship.
“Right now I’m just getting all of my paperwork figured out, but I’m really excited to get down there and really get to meet with a lot of really good partners. They’re great coaches down there and I think I’m going to get to be in really good shape working out multiple times a day,” said McLane, who leaves for Stillwater, Okla. on June 5, just three days after graduating from Bozeman. “I think getting down there, working out for a tournament in Fargo, it will be pretty tough and brutal. I have a couple classes to take, all the wrestlers take a couple bridge classes, but I think right now they just want to get me down there and get working out, put more miles on the shoes.
“They’re next level, which is really cool and exciting, but I’ve always pictured myself being there and that’s what I’ve worked to achieve. I’m just getting prepared and ready to get down there.”
Great Falls’ Edee Higgins was honored with the Marie Hatcher outstanding volunteer award for her “grateful recognition of tremendous dedication, service and commitment to the sport of wrestling.” Twenty-two wrestlers were also announced as winners of the Montana triple crown awards after capturing championships in the Montana AAU state tournament, as well as the USAW freestyle and greco state tournaments.
The tripe crown winners, as provided by the Montana AAU, can be found below.
6U 45: Wyatt Manning, Huntley Project
Girls 8U: Payten Van Pelt, Team Champs
10U 55: Kaius Rivera, MT Disciples
10U 60: Remington Grunhuvd, Lil Copperheads
10U 65: Daniel Green, Billings Wrestling Club
12U 60: Kellen Downing, Flathead Valley Wrestling Club
12U 65: Cael Floerchinger, North Montana Wrestling Club
12U 85: Alex Wahl, North Montana Wrestling Club
12U 90: Karson Pumnea, Butte
Girls 12U 85: Nevaeh Grunhuvd, Lil Copperheads
Girls 12U 95: Brynn Courville, Timberjacks
Girls 12U 140: Maisie Barrus, Forsyth
14U 90: Maverick McEwen, Butte
14U 105: Dylan Block, North Montana Wrestling Club
14U 130: Noah Poe-Hatten, Flathead Valley Wrestling Club
14U 160: Zarek Lee, Flathead Valley Wrestling Club
Girls 14U: Trinity Barrus, Forsyth
16U 98: Teegan Vasquez, Kalispell Wrestling Club
16U 106: Jase Van Pelt, Team Champs
16U 126: Carson DesRosier, Bruin
Junior 132: Isaac Romero, Big Game
Girls Junior 152: Mariah Wahl, North Montana Wrestling Club