a look at some of the best in Treasure State
MISSOULA – Finally, the 2020 Summer Olympics begin on July 23 and Montana will be well represented as Ali Weisz from Belgrade, Nick Mowrer from Butte and Nicole Heavirland from Whitefish each travel to Tokyo.
Mowrer is back in the games after competing in 2012. He will compete in both the 10-yard pistol and the 50-yard rifle, the first time this has been done by an American Olympian. The men’s pistol test is even on Saturday July 24, while the rifle test will be decided on Sunday July 25.
Weisz, a 10-meter air rifle shooter, will compete in the medal round which begins on Saturday, July 24.
Heavirland will wait until Thursday, July 29, when Team USA’s women’s rugby sevens team face China in a group match.
The trio are just the latest in the lineage of Olympians with roots in Montana. MTN Sports has reviewed some of the best in Treasure State to compete in the games.
Lones Wigger, Jr. – Filming – 1964, 1972
As Rowrer and Weisz seek success in Tokyo, one of the greatest snipers in Team USA history has made a name for himself there. Lones Wigger, Jr. was born in Great Falls and raised in the nearby town of Carter, where he learned to shooting in the basement of the Carter Community Center, according to USA Shooting. Wigger then fired for the rifle program at Montana State University and also served in the United States Army, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Wigger was a three-time Olympic medalist. In Tokyo 1964, he won gold in the 50 meters 3×40 free rifle. He also won silver in the 50-yard prone shotgun that year. In 1972, Wigger resumed his dominance by winning gold in the 300-meter freestyle rifle.
His daughter Deena (also born in Great Falls) competed in the 1988 Olympics as a rifle shooter.
Gene Davis – Wrestling – 1976
Davis was the first great wrestler in Montana history. Davis, who grew up in Missoula, was the state’s first quadruple state high school champion and later became the first Montanan to win an NCAA championship. Wrestling at Oklahoma State, he was a three-time US National Champion and 1966.
In his post-graduate career, Davis won a bronze medal in freestyle wrestling at the 1976 Olympics, and he is still the only Montanais to win an Olympic medal in the sport.
Mary Osborne Andrews – Javelin throw – 1980
Andrews grew up in Billings and graduated from Billings West High School.
Andrews’ decorated career included a spot on the 1980 United States Women’s Olympic Javelin Team and three qualifiers for the United States Olympic Trials in 1980, 1984 and 1992. In addition, she received the gold medal from the Congress.
She was a five-time Class AA State Track and Field Champion for West before becoming a two-time All-American at Stanford University and captain of the track team for four years. Andrews was recently the special guest of the Big Sky State Games in Billings.
Todd Foster – Boxing – 1988
A resident of Great Falls, Foster boxed in the welterweight division and had a remarkable amateur career, becoming the National Golden Gloves Light welterweight champion in 1987 and the United States amateur welterweight champion in 1988. This career helped him land on the 1988 US Olympic team, where he lost in the quarterfinals, before turning pro in 1989. He won his first 22 professional fights.
Dave Johnson – Decathlon – 1988, 1992
Johnson primarily grew up in Missoula before graduating from high school in Corvallis, Oregon. Johnson competed in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Although he did not win a medal in Seoul, Johnson used this experience to clinch bronze at the 1992 Games in Barcelona.
Monica Tranel – Rowing – 1996, 2000
Tranel grew up on ranches near Ashland, Miles City, and Lavina. She competed in basketball and track and field for Billings Central in high school, but her greatest athletic achievement was competing in rowing at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. In the 1996 women’s eight, her team failed. win bronze, which was instead won by Belarus.
Tranel, a law graduate from Rutgers, is now a lawyer in Missoula and candidate for the 2nd seat of the United States House of Representatives recently reclaimed by Montana.
Levi Leipheimer – Cycling – 2008
Leipheimer was born and raised in Butte. His parents ran a sporting goods store there., and he was riding at the age of 10. Leipheimer turned professional in 1997, and took part in his first Tour de France in 2002.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Leipheimer won bronze in the men’s road time trial, with a time of 1h, 03: 21.11.
Mike Zadick – Wrestling – 2008
Zadick is from Great Falls and comes from Montana’s most iconic wrestling family. His father Bob was instrumental in defending and spreading the sport throughout Montana, and his brother Bill won an NCAA Division I National Championship in Iowa and a gold medal at the National Championships. 2006 freestyle wrestling world.
Although he didn’t quite find the same level of success in Iowa as Bill, Mike was still a three-time American in the NCAA.
Mike competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where he lost to Vasyl Fedoryshyn of Ukraine in the 60 kg category. Fedoryshyn won silver that year, but was later stripped of his medal because of doping.