Montana State tops Montana in Brawl of the Wild Series for 3rd straight year

(Editor’s note: Release from Montana State University)

BOZEMAN — The annual Brawl of the Wild Series, presented by Town Pump, concluded for the 2018-19 season when the Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships came to an end in Missoula on Saturday, May 11. Montana State took the lead in the Series in October and never looked back en route to an 11-6 victory in the head-to-head competition over Montana.

The Brawl of the Wild trophy remains in Bozeman for a third straight year. The Brawl of the Wild Series, which takes into account matchups between sports the two schools sponsor, began during the 2013-14 season. Montana held the advantage in the Series for three consecutive years before the Bobcats won it for the first time in 2016-17.

Montana State volleyball dropped a five-set match in Missoula to begin the rivalry series on Sept. 25, but the Bobcats responded with a three-set victory over the Griz in Shroyer Gym on Oct. 23. The match inside Dahlberg Arena went back and forth and had seven ties in the fifth set before Montana broke away with three consecutive points. In the return matchup in Bozeman, the Bobcats were lifted up by a sold-out crowd in a 25-21, 25-23, 25-17 win. MSU won the opening set easily, but had to mount a comeback down 23-20 and rallied for five straight points in the second set.

MSU took an overall 57-56 lead in all-time meetings against Montana and tied up the Brawl of the Wild standings.

The Bobcat cross country teams put MSU ahead for good in the Brawl of the Wild Series. Kelsi Lasota earned runner-up individual honors and led MSU’s women’s squad to a sixth-place showing ahead of Montana which took ninth. The Bobcat men’s team earned its best showing at the meet since 2013 by taking fourth on Oct. 27. MSU had four runners finish in the top 23 of the individual standings as the Bobcats increased their lead by two points.

Bobcat football picked up two points in the standings with its dramatic victory over the Griz in the regular season finale on Nov. 17. Montana State trailed 22-0 at Washington-Grizzly Stadium and was down 25-15 with 7:46 remaining in the fourth quarter. A series of completions to Travis Jonsen and a touchdown run by Troy Andersen cut the deficit to a one-possession game. Grant Collins forced a fumble on the ensuing Griz drive and the Bobcats acquired the lead on a 13-yard rushing touchdown by Logan Jones.

The Grizzlies responded with a final drive that eventually reached the Bobcats’ 1-yard line with 14 seconds remaining. After a called timeout, the interior of the Bobcat defensive line stuffed a third-and-goal run and Tucker Yates forced a fumble. Derek Marks recovered the loose ball and sealed an MSU victory on Montana’s home turf.

The Brawl of the Wild Series resumed in 2019 when the Cat-Griz basketball doubleheader tipped off in Bozeman on Feb 2. The schools traded points in the basketball doubleheaders as Montana State picked up two victories in women’s basketball and Montana won twice on the men’s side. MSU’s women cruised to a 22-point victory in Bozeman on Feb. 2, then held off a late Montana run in Missoula on Feb. 23 for a 75-71 win. The Bobcat men dropped two highly contested matchups against Montana. The Griz won 83-78 in Worthington Arena Feb. 2 then hung on for an 89-83 victory in Dahlberg Arena on Feb. 23.

On the same weekend the two treasure state schools traded points in basketball in Missoula, the Bobcat track and field program picked up two points for its performance at the Big Sky Indoor Championships in Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Both MSU squads finished runner-up at the meet. The Bobcat men’s showing was their best at the Big Sky Indoor Championships since 2013 and the women’s finish was their best since the 2015 indoor meet.

Holding a 9-3 lead and having already clinched the Brawl of the Wild Series, MSU recorded two more points over a four-day span in April. The Bobcat men’s tennis team picked up a tight 4-3 dual victory over Montana on the MSU campus on April 18. Montana responded by rallying from a 3-2 deficit to top the Bobcats in women’s tennis, 4-3, in the Bobcat-Anderson Tennis Center two days later. MSU golf completed its season at the 2019 Big Sky Championship on April 21 by taking sixth at the tournament. It was the Bobcats’ best showing at the conference tournament since 2015 and placed Montana State four spots ahead of Montana in the team standings.

The Big Sky Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships took place at Montana’s Dornblaser Field from May 8-11. The Griz took third and fourth in the men’s and women’s championships, respectively. Montana State finished fifth and seventh in the final standings.

Montana State and Montana teamed up along with Learfield IMG College, both universities’ athletics exclusive multimedia rightsholder, for a year-long rivalry series between the two institutions prior to the 2013-14 season. The Brawl of the Wild Series operates on a point system in which each school can earn a maximum 17 points based on head-to-head competition.

Derek Buerkle

Derek Buerkle

Derek has worked in sports at KPAX-TV in Missoula since 2007. He grew up in Big Timber, Montana, and attended the University of Montana journalism program.
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