TOWNSEND — Townsend’s senior twins Jade and Val Rauser have produced accomplishments on the wrestling mat that only a handful of Montana high school grapplers can match.
Jade, a three-time Class B/C state champion, is undefeated for his career, at 167-0. The Bulldog senior owns the all-class records for most career wins, and longest winning streak, at 167… and counting.
In 2009, he became the first matman in history to win the USA Wrestling National Juniors triple crown, capturing national titles at 105 pounds in the Greco-Roman, Freestyle and Folkstyle divisions.
If the 119-pound grappler can run the table at the Southern Divisionals today, and the state meet in Hamilton next weekend, he’ll join Gene Davis (Missoula County, 1960-63) and Beau Malia (Skyview, 2001-04) as the only guys in state history to complete undefeated careers.
Val, who has garnered two B/C titles and a runner-up, is 146-5 for his prep career. As a junior last year, at 125, he earned the 2010 state tourney Quick Pin Award. In USA Wrestling, he won the 2007 National Cadet 112 Greco Roman crown, and then last year garnered the USA national Greco Junior championship.
Both brothers are multiple cadet and juniors USA national runners-up, as well.
But for all their championships, awards and records, perhaps what their father, Kurt Rauser, is most pleased with, is the caliber of human beings his sons are.
“I think what I’m most proud of is how good of kids they turned out to be; how humble they are,” said the elder Rauser, himself a two-time state champ for Townsend back in the day.
“But I have to admit,” he added with a grin, “it’s always nice to win those junior national titles, too.”
Kurt and Tiffany Rauser first put their boys on the mat when they were just 4 years old, because, “They were beating the snot out of each other fist fighting, so we decided to get them in wrestling,” related their dad.
They joined Townsend’s USA Montana Cobra Wrestling Club, and began training 10-11 months a year. The Rausers drove all over the country — with Cobra coach Ken Thompson and his son Britt — racking up tens of thousands of miles, and dozens of state and regional youth championships.
When they became freshmen at Townsend, their grueling practice sessions nearly doubled. Over the past four years, the Rauser twins have maintained a training regimen of epic proportions.
“During high school season, we work out four days a week with the team, 1½ hours a practice,” Jade said. “After the school sessions, we train at the Cobra club, three days a week for 1½ hours each. And every Sunday, we go to the Cobra’s camps for about four hours.”
For their the so-called “off season,” the twins train about 12-14 hours a week for most of the year with the Cobras.
It’s a routine requiring a great deal of intestinal fortitude, and those who can endure it have excelled.
Cobra members come from throughout southwest Montana, including several current and former Helena High matmen, like top-ranked prep grapplers Grant Boggs and Gabe Schroeck, and state champions Toby and Tucker Erickson.
“I’ve been following the Rausers since before high school, and they are two of the most dedicated and hardest working individuals I’ve ever known,” former Butte High coach Jim Street said. “Everything they’ve planted in the soil has come to harvest. They’re also two of the finest young men I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.”
And Street knows of which he speaks. During 25 years at Butte, the legendary mat mentor guided the Bulldogs to a record 15 state championships, while coaching 48 individual Class AA titlists.
Former Cobra teammate Toby Erickson, now a sophomore at Boise State, concurred with Street’s assessment of the twins’ work ethic.
“Jade and Val never seem to take a day off, they are the hardest working people in show business,” said Erickson, himself a Cadet national titlist, and a two-time AA heavyweight champ for the Bengals. “They are like a dependable, well-kept machine.
“They are incredibly smart, too … those boys remembered everything.”
Townsend coach John O’Dell said one reason for the brothers’ success is their competitiveness against each other, pushing their skills to the limits. The Rausers credited wrestling against bigger guys — like former and current teammates Brit Thompson and Shay Christiansen — as helping make them better.
Jade, who has captured 10 invitational titles — four Cascade Badgers, three Bozeman LeProwses and three CMR Holidays — to go along with his three divisional and state crowns, has defeated no less than five AA and two A state champions during his career.
Over the past four years, he has lost only four takedowns, and has trailed in just one match during his career. As a freshman in Bozeman, Jade was nearly pinned in the first period by Flathead’s Zach Reinmitz, but fought back from a 5-0 deficit for a 9-5 victory.
He is currently 38-0 this season, with 31 pins, heading into today’s Southern B/C Division tourney in Cascade. His 110 career pins rank 12th on the all-time list.
Val owns five invite, three divisional and two state championships. He has defeated three different AA titlists along the way, stapled 97 opponents, and given up only six takedowns. He is 36-1 on the year at 130, with 28 season pins.
What’s remarkable about Val’s career, is that he’s been able to accomplish all he has, despite suffering from ulcerative colitis for the past 2½ years. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease, which causes inflammation of the large intestine.
“I’m on two pills a day, and every eight weeks I take an infusion medication through an I.V., which takes about 2½ hours,” he explained.
The Rausers received collegiate offers from prestigious wrestling colleges like Minnesota and Oregon, but have signed to wrestle for Utah Valley University in Orem, where they’ll pursue their dreams of NCAA championships, and making the U.S. World and Olympic teams; ala two of their idols, Great Falls High brothers Bill and Mike Zadick.
Which according to at least one longtime mat aficionado, is not an unreasonable expectation.
“I feel that Jade and Val Rauser are comparable to the Zadicks,” said sports writer Dan Killoy, who has witnessed the state’s best matmen for six decades. “And I never thought I’d hear myself say that about anybody.”
Curt Synness: 449-2150 or email@example.com