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The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Montana

Dec. 27, 1999
Dec. 27, 1999

Table of Contents
Dec. 27, 1999

20th Century
Inside The NFL

The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Montana

There's a difference between loyalty to the home team--athletes
imported to play for our local colleges and pro franchises--and
the deep emotional bond we share with hometown heroes, the local
legends we knew back when. They are the boys and girls from next
door, or the next town. We watched them grow up, watched them
play when it was still play. Unfortunately, these luminaries are
almost inevitably dispersed because of sport's mercenary nature,
lured away by scholarships or contracts. Well, we're bringing
'em all back home for the millennium--not necessarily to where
they were born, but to where they first showed flashes of the
greatness to come. Thus, Broadway Joe is in Pennsylvania, not
Alabama or New York; and the Mailman is in Louisiana, not Utah.
The result: the top 50 from your state and, on the following
pages, a list of those from all 50 states. In short, the
ultimate home teams.

This is an article from the Dec. 27, 1999 issue Original Layout

#1
Dave McNally
BILLINGS
Four-time 20-game winner with the Orioles; tied then AL record
with 17 consecutive wins in 1968-69.

#2
Dan Mortensen
BILLINGS
Rodeo all-around world champion in 1997; saddle bronc winner in
'93, '94, '95 and again in '97 and '98.

#3
Lones Wigger
GREAT FALLS
One of the greatest U.S. rifle shooters; won two Olympic gold
medals, in small-bore (1964) and free rifle ('72), and a silver
in small bore ('64).

#4
Pat Donovan
HELENA
Four-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman for Cowboys from 1975 to '83.

#5
Corey Widmer
BOZEMAN
Two-time All-Big Sky Conference at Montana State; currently a
starting linebacker for Giants.

#6
Jeff Ballard
BILLINGS
No high school team, but played American Legion ball and earned
scholarship to Stanford; set three Cardinal records; pitched for
Orioles and Pirates from 1987 to '94.

#7
Ryan Leaf
GREAT FALLS
Led C.M. Russell High to 1992 state title; took Washington State
to '97 Rose Bowl; second pick overall by Chargers in '98.

#8
Greg Rice
MISSOULA
Sullivan Award winner in 1940 was two-time NCAA two-mile champion
for Notre Dame.

#9
Gene Davis
MISSOULA
NCAA 137-pound wrestling champion in 1966; Olympic bronze
medalist in '76.

#10
Scott Davis
GREAT FALLS
Rose from obscurity to win 1993 U.S. figure skating
championship, won again the following year.

#11
Tim Hauck
BIG TIMBER
All-America safety at Montana has spent 10 seasons in NFL;
currently with Eagles.

#12
Dave Dickenson
GREAT FALLS
Two-time All-America at Montana threw for 11,080 yards and 96
TDs; led Grizzlies to Division I-AA title in 1995.

#13
Shannon Cate
BILLINGS
Alltime leading scorer (2,172 points), male or female, in
Montana basketball history; 1991-92 All-America; holds nine Big
Sky records.

#14
Robert Craig (Evel) Knievel
BUTTE
Bombastic daredevil broke 35 bones attempting to jump almost
anything on his motorcycle, including Idaho's mile-wide Snake
River Canyon.

#15
Shannon Butler
EUREKA
NCAA men's champion in 10,000 (1990) and 5,000 meters ('91) at
Montana State.

#16
Larry Krystkowiak
SHELBY
Standout for Montana; was hard-nosed forward for six NBA teams;
best season was 1988-89, when he averaged 12.7 points and 7.6
rebounds.

#17
Brian Salonen
GREAT FALLS
Division I-AA All-America left Montana in 1984 as school's
alltime leading receiver.

#18
Marvin Camel
MISSOULA
World Boxing Council's first cruiserweight champion, in 1980; '83
International Boxing Federation cruiser champion.

#19
Ed Kalafat
ANACONDA
Standout center at Minnesota averaged 14.5 points; played for
Lakers from 1954 to '57.

#20
Alice Greenough
RED LODGE
Won three national rodeo titles in 1930s and '40s; first
inductee into Cowgirl Hall of Fame, in '75; entered National
Cowboy Hall of Fame in '83.

#21
Sonny Holland
BUTTE
Three-time Division I-AA All-America linebacker at Montana
State; head coach of Bobcats from 1971 to '77.

#22
Alice Ritzman
KALISPELL
Has earned more than $1 million on LPGA tour--the second most by a
player who has never won a tournament.

#23
Milt Popovich
BUTTE
All-America halfback at Montana; played for the Cardinals from
1938 to '42, rushing for 233 yards and four touchdowns.

#24
Deb Greenough
RED LODGE
Nephew of Alice Greenough (#20) was 1993 world champion bareback
rider.

#25
Terry Casey
GREAT FALLS
All-America center iceman at North Dakota in 1965-66; member of
U.S. team in '67 world championships.

#26
Mike Tilleman
CHINOOK
Montana defensive tackle had 11-year career (1966-76) with
Vikings, Saints, Oilers and Falcons.

#27
(Wild) Bill Kelly
MISSOULA
All-America quarterback and halfback at Montana from 1924 to
'26; scored 31 career touchdowns; also lettered in baseball and
basketball.

#28
Mike Lewis
MISSOULA
All-America center averaged 21.7 points and 14.4 rebounds in
1967-68 at Duke; spent one season in ABA with Pacers.

#29
Eric Bergoust
MISSOULA
Won gold medal in aerial skiing at 1998 Olympics.

#30
Marti Leibenguth
MISSOULA
Three-time All-Big Sky in basketball at Montana from 1984 to
'88; voted Little Sullivan Award winner in '88 as best female
athlete in state; played professionally in France in 1988-89.

#31
Larry Questad
LIVINGSTON
Sprinter placed sixth in 200 meters at 1968 Olympics.

#32
Brick Breeden
BOZEMAN
All-America basketball guard at Montana State; school's alltime
winningest coach in sport (283-198, 1936-47, '48-54).

#33
Dick Doyle
MISSOULA
Two-time track and field All-America at Montana was 1950 NCAA
discus champion.

#34
Dave Silk
BUTTE
Speed skater was World Cup champion at 5,000 meters in 1986.

#35
Max Worthington
BILLINGS
Basketball and football standout at Montana State in 1920s;
coached Bobcats' basketball team in '47-48; school's arena named
after him.

#36
John Petkevich
GREAT FALLS
Won national senior men's figure skating championship in 1971.

#37
Rod Lyman
GREAT FALLS
All-state football player at Great Falls High in 1978 later
became four-time Montana circuit steer-wrestling champion.

#38
Bill Linderman
RED LODGE
Top all-around cowboy in 1950 and '53; won world titles in steer
wrestling and bronc riding.

#39
Wayne Estes
ANACONDA
Utah State forward was averaging 33.7 points in 1964-65 when he
stopped to help a car-accident victim and was electrocuted by a
live wire.

#40
Todd Foster
GREAT FALLS
National Golden Gloves champion at 139 pounds in 1987; light
welterweight on '88 Olympic team.

#41
Russ Sweet
MILES CITY
Football and track standout at Montana placed second in 100- and
200-yard dashes at 1925 NCAA championships.

#42
Leslie Spalding
BILLINGS
Two-time state high school (1986-87) and amateur ('91-92)
champion; joined LPGA tour in 1996.

#43
Sarah Flock
BELGRADE
Three-time all-conference basketball player at Montana State;
honorable mention All-America in 1992; team's fourth-leading
scorer alltime.

#44
Kris Schmitt
GREAT FALLS
Sprinter and hurdler at Montana in late 1980s holds nine school
records; first Lady Griz to break 60 seconds in 400-meter
hurdles.

#45
Cass Bauer
HYSHAM
Big Sky player of the year at Montana State in 1993; played
forward for WNBA's Charlotte Sting in '99.

#46
Benny Reynolds
MELROSE
Won top all-around cowboy title in 1961.

#47
Bob O'Billovich
BUTTE
Two-time All-Skyline Conference quarterback and defensive back
at Montana in 1959 and '60; coached CFL's Toronto Argonauts to
'83 Grey Cup.

#48
Arnold Gillette
LEWISTON
NCAA two-mile champion at Montana in 1926.

#49
Jack Gillespie
GREAT FALLS
Montana State basketball center elected to Big Sky's
25th-anniversary team in 1988.

#50
Elvis Old Bull
CROW INDIAN RESERVATION
Guard led Lodge Grass High to consecutive Class B state
basketball titles in 1988, '89, '90; was state tournament MVP
each year.

COLOR PHOTO: JAMES DRAKE #1 Dave McNally