BILLINGS — For the past nine years, Scott Weber has coached at least one of his sons during the annual state wrestling tournaments. For nearly a decade, the Weber name has become a mainstay during Montana wrestling’s biggest weekend.
That era was set to close on Saturday night.
Forsyth senior Michael Weber, the youngest of Scott and Maria’s five sons, opened his quest for a fourth consecutive title on Friday, the final chapter in the Weber book at Forsyth.
“It’s been good, but it’s also been like you’re looking for somebody else for (Michael) to roll around with, but there isn’t anybody there,” Scott said of watching Michael practice without his brothers. “I’m too old, I can’t do it anymore, and it’s one of those things that I wish, I don’t wish I had more kids, five is plenty and my wife would say the same, but I try not to think about it, I guess. I just trudge along and when it comes to an end, I haven’t thought that much about it, so I’ll probably sit down and go, ‘Wow. I guess we’re done for now.’”
But first, the final two days of Michael’s prep career, where, for the first time, he didn’t have to share the spotlight with any of his siblings.
“He doesn’t get beat up by his brothers anymore, I should say it’s because they’re not home,” joked Scott.
“I took a lot, I’m not going to lie. It was almost every day, (my brothers) would come home and it was like, ‘Here we go again. I’m going to get beat on again.’ Day after day, day in, day out,” said Michael, now a 152-pounder, who recalled the brothers’ roles in multiple holes in the wall. “I got lucky because I feel bad for Nathan the most. Growing up, the pecking order, Luke was kind of at the top the entire time, nobody messed with Luke, but Nathan was at the bottom. Even though he was the older brother, after they got done with me, I went over and beat Nathan up to at least get something out of the day. It’s crazy how much I got beat up back in the day, but it was all good for me. I mean, look where we’re at here now. It must have done something for me.”
Michael paused and looked around Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark. It was Thursday, hours before he began his final state tournament, an odd realization, he said.
“Take a step back, look around you, breathe it in. This is the last time I’m going to be under these lights, the last time I’m going to be wrestling as a high school kid,” Michael said.
Adding to the emotion was the history he was chasing with two of his best friends — Colstrip’s Jackson Currier and Havre’s Martin Wilkie — as the trio attempted to become the 33rd, 34th and 35th four-time state champions in Montana history.
The mighty Weber family boasted 17 individual wrestling championships entering the weekend — Matthew and Luke were four-timers, Brandon a three-timer, Michael had three and was chasing four, Nathan won two and Scott secured a title in the early 1980s — and every one of them has benefited Michael in his career.
“If you look at my style, it’s kind of a mixture of all of them — not really Nathan because he likes that funky, rolling stuff. I don’t, I’m conservative. I want to stay right in front of you and wrestle my style,” said Michael. “Matt, he has those little tidbits of funk, Brandon’s balance is amazing and then Luke, he’s like a bull, full on, hands on, going at you. I pick and choose, that works on these guys, this works on these guys, and I’ve been able to create my own style based upon their styles. I feel like that’s why I’ve had success.”
“Stay focused. He needs to wrestle the way he’s always wrestled,” said Scott. “You have a goal of what you want to do when you’re on the mat, you stick to that goal and you don’t get sidetracked by interviews, cameras, the lights here, the crowd cheering, all that stuff, you just don’t get sidetracked. You have a mission and you’re there to fulfill that mission.”
Michael wasted little time doing just that, winning his first three matches by fall, qualifying for his fourth championship bout. Waiting across the mat? Shelby standout Wyatt Brusven, who tried anything and everything, traditional and non-traditional, to no avail.
A 14-6 major decision landed Michael Weber his fourth championship, the 35th wrestler to achieve the feat — Currier and Wilkie had done the same in the previous two weight classes — and third Weber brother to be added to the elite list.
“It would mean a lot, but personally, that fourth state title doesn’t mean as much as the family coming together and the look I’ll come over and give my dad,” Michael said. “I’ll see my grandparents and their love and affection, how proud they are of me. That’s the biggest thing that I want, I want them to be proud of what I’ve accomplished. Winning a fourth state title is going to be nice, but it fails to compare to the love of my family and the support they’ve given me.”
It was indeed the end of an era Saturday night at Metra, fireworks on the final page of the Weber chapter at Forsyth High School. With 18 total titles (not counting the Dogies’ team championships), three four-time champions and college careers for all, perhaps it was time to put an end to the question on many minds: Which Weber brother is the best?
“No comment. That would be hard to answer,” said Michael. “We have different ages, plus the experience. Luke spent three years NCAA Division I. No matter how good I think I am, that’s not going to compare to three years of Division I practice partners. He was down at Nebraska for a while, albeit it didn’t work out, but his training partners were Jordan Burroughs, James Green.
“If we go on experience, it would have to be Luke because he’s put himself in a position to wrestle with those guys, but I’ll never say Luke’s the best. He’ll never be the best. I’m better than you Luke, believe that.”
The era may have ended, but the holes in the wall may be far from finished.