Jarrett Degen is coming home.
Thanks in large part to the effort of his father, Terry, the former Belgrade standout will have the rare opportunity to return and compete on his high school mat as a collegiate athlete.
Jarrett is a four-time NCAA qualifier and two-time All-American wrestler for Iowa State, which will hold duals against Montana State University-Northern the University of Providence Jan. 16 in the Belgrade Special Events Center.
Jarrett shined as a prep athlete for the Panthers, compiling a 168-8 record en route to winning four consecutive Class A championships. He is one of just two four-time state champions in program history.
Terry contacted Iowa State two years about holding duals in Belgrade, but plans were thwarted by Covid-19.
“I had it really set up good two years ago,” he said. “Two years ago I had it set up where Oregon State was coming, Duke was coming and then Montana Northern. We were gonna run two mats and four teams, and then Covid shut us down. I put it back together with anything I could get this year because it is basically his final year.”
Jarrett, who graduated from Belgrade in 2016, began his college career at Virginia Tech and then transferred to Iowa State following a redshirt season. While he’s already graduated, Jarrett took advantage of a sixth season after the NCAA granted athletes an additional year of eligibility due to Covid-19.
“He had life plans. Wrestling was supposed to be over by now,” said Terry. “But I get one more opportunity to pull this off.”
Jarrett, who is listed a redshirt senior, wrestles at 149 pounds. He was 6-1 entering Christmas break and Terry said he’s excited about returning to his old stomping ground.
“He really likes the idea. He thinks it will be great,” said Terry. “He’s got a lot of people that still follow him from Montana that can’t got to Iowa or wherever else he’s wrestling all the time. So it will be one last time to see Jarrett wrestle.”
Bryce Weatherston, who was a three-time state champion for the Panthers and is currently the program’s head coach, is also excited about Jarrett’s return.
“There’s going to be people traveling from everywhere across the state going to be there,” Weatherston said. “We don’t get the opportunity to have D-I wrestling showcased in the state of Montana very often. So when we do the wrestling community is tight, everyone comes.”
Two years ago the duals were slated to be held the same weekend as the annual Tom LeProwse Invitational in Bozeman, which a majority of the state’s schools attend. This year, however, teams will be at the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic in Missoula.
Still, Terry feels a big crowd will show up with the duals being held on a Sunday.
“Missoula is over Saturday,” he noted. “Billings people going home I hope would want to maybe want to spend and extra night in Bozeman and then go home Sunday. All the Billings schools will be driving through Belgrade, Montana either Saturday night or Sunday.”
Doors open at 12:30 p.m. and the duals are scheduled for 2 and 4. Cost is $10 per person with general admission seating.
“For us (Belgrade High), we’re just glad we can host it and we can help out those guys anyway possible,” said Weatherston. “Without Terry Degen and Jarrett Degen this wouldn’t be possible. They deserve all the credit in the world for putting this on. I can’t wait.”