Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Andi Bourne

Heggen Inducted into MSU Athletic Hall of Fame


Andi Bourne, Pathfinder

Wayne Heggen holding his award and wearing a hat he received at the MSU Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee Ceremony, Jan. 29 in Bozeman.

SEELEY LAKE – Seeley Lake resident Wayne Heggen was inducted to the Montana State University (MSU) Athletic Hall of Fame Jan. 29 for being a part of the Bobcat's 1964 wrestling team. He, along with 20 other wrestlers, was recognized for taking individual titles and winning the Big Sky Championship Tournament in 1964, 1965 and 1966.

Heggen started wrestling in high school in Kalispell. That was the first time wrestling was available to Heggen and he took the opportunity.

"A friend and I just decided that was what we would do [since he didn't like football and wrestling was also during the fall]," said Heggen. "It was competitive and tough. I was wrestling tough guys, beating most of them but not all."

Heggen received a half-ride scholarship from MSU to wrestle during his four years. Because wrestling programs were so new in Montana, Heggen said he got his scholarship because he worked hard and won.

Heggen wrestled in the 147-weight class for all four years. Every week starting Thursday, he would drop an average of 20 pounds before weigh-in on Friday or Saturday.

"It's easy to do that once you know how," said Heggen. "It's not good for you. It's pretty much all water. You don't eat either but you sweat it out."

His training consisted of weight lifting, running to increase his cardio and wrestling drills for an hour and half per day. Every week there would be challenge days for those who were on the team but did not make the main team that went to the meet. The season was three months in the fall and he participated in nearly 15 meets per year, with the biggest tournament being the Big Sky Tournament.

At the 1964 Big Sky Tournament, there were four wrestlers in Heggen's weight class. The match consisted of three, three-minute periods. In the first period, both wrestlers were face-to-face on their feet and tried for takedowns. The second and third periods started with wrestlers on the mat. The goal was to pin the opponent with his shoulders on the mat.

Heggen swept his weight class and took the individual title in two matches. He defeated a wrestler from Missoula and one from Idaho State University. He was one of seven MSU wrestlers that won individual titles at the tournament as the Bobcats captured the championship. His team also went undefeated for the season.

Photo provided.

Heggen moves in for the takedown against Brigham Young University opponent Davis during one of his matches in 1964. In 1964, the Bobcat wrestling team won nine of their 12 meets.

Heggen graduated the following spring. The MSU wrestling team went on to win five individual honors and the championship at the tournament in 1965. At the 1966 Big Sky Tournament, they won nine of eleven weight classes and defended their championship title for the third year in a row.

In the program from the Jan. 29 inductee ceremony at MSU, it said, "Only two other Bobcat teams, the football squads of 1964-1968 and 2010-12, have won three straight Big Sky Conference championships. The 1964-1966 wrestling squads stand as one of Montana State's most successful teams ever."

While Heggen has kept in touch with a couple of his teammates from college, he enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with old friends.

"It happened so long ago," said Heggen. "It was really gratifying to meet all my old friends again [at the inductee ceremony]. That was the biggest part of it."


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