Montana wrestling champion celebrates 33 years officiating sport - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Montana wrestling champion celebrates 33 years officiating sport

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With hundreds of athletes and thousands of fans, it takes many hands to keep Montana's largest sporting event, the all-class state wrestling tournament, on the mat.

Two of those hands belong to Dean Thompson, a longtime official at the annual event using wisdom and whistles to keep athletes in line and keep his passion for wrestling alive.

"I grew up wrestling," Thompson said. "It's one of the greatest sports."

Thompson said his passion for wrestling began before grade school, with an older brother helping teach him the sport as a young child. Thompson later claimed a Montana state wrestling title with Superior High School in 1983. Five years later, MetraPark initiated the all-class tournament, and Thompson was eager to be a part of the combined class competition.

"I refereed the first (all-class) state tournament here...it would have been 29 years ago," Thompson said. "This atmosphere just gets bigger and better every year. Billings does a great job!"

Now, 33 years into officiating his sport and nearly 3 decades refereeing the state tournament, Thompson said the large group inside Rimrock Auto Arena each year represents one big wrestling community he is happy to be a part of.

"That's why I enjoy this sport," Thompson said. "It doesn't matter where you go, you know someone involved in the wrestling program."

Thompson said the state tournament's organization and staff make it comfortable for officials involved in the two-day event, and he may continue to serve as referee for years to come, that is...if he doesn't decide to leave the mats for the stands.

"I bring my freshman son, and i've got a third grade son, so I may want to be the official as they come up through or I may want to just come and watch my kids wrestle."

Montana's All-Class State Wrestling Tournament continues in Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark this Saturday, February 11th, with scores and stories on KULR-8 News and kulr8.com.

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