BILLINGS — In its first year of existence, Lockwood High School is fast becoming a place where sports memories are made.
Normally Billings Central plays its home football games at Rocky Mountain College but this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rams played their home games at Lockwood Stadium.
Central hosted the State A championship football game in Lockwood against Yellowstone County foe and eventual champion Laurel.
Now, this weekend the inaugural girls wrestling state championships will be held at the Lockwood High gym.
In three short weeks, the State C combined basketball tourney will be played at Lockwood March 10-13.
And before that, some of the Eastern A basketball tournament games will be played at the gym Feb. 25-27, along with some loser-out Southern B contests March 3-6.
“We were fortunate enough to have Billings Central play on our field for football and we got to host the state championship football game this fall,” said Lockwood AD Mike Erickson. “We were so excited for that.
“To be able to use our venue for the MHSA to run the state events at our school that just opened is super special for Lockwood for sure.”
Lockwood had a freshman academy last school year. The new high school opened this past fall.
And while in just a short time the school will have soon hosted three state championship events and divisional basketball games, Erickson said the hope is for more to come.
And that makes those in the school system happy.
According to Erickson, one of the school’s mottos is “BELOCKWOOD” — because “that is who we are and what we stand for.”
The word “be” can be attached to many words, Erickson said, using examples of “Be great students,” “Be great athletes,” “Be great listeners,” and “Be community.”
Erickson said school officials believe being a part of the community is hosting events.
“The biggest thing we talk about is when this community decided to build a school of this size and capacity and the taxpayers voted on this, this is what was promised to them and the community to bring in tournaments and championships like this,” said Erickson. “For us to be able to host state championship football, wrestling and in two more weeks the State C basketball tournament, it is overwhelming excitement. We are so super excited about being able to showcase our facilities that our taxpayers paid for and committed to in our first year of existence. It is amazing.”
Originally the plan was for the girls wrestling tournament to be held at the Metra in conjunction with the three boys state tournaments. The Class C basketball tourney was to have been played at Montana State in Bozeman.
The virus changed those plans, and Erickson said the Lockwood school system thought it was important to offer to help.
“It was a no-brainer for us to put our name in the hat and be able to host something and to help the MHSA out in their time of need to find a facility and county that is allowing this to happen,” Erickson said.
Brian Michelotti of the MHSA, who is the girls wrestling tournament director, said he expects a great event and that the Lockwood school system has worked hard in preparation.
“Mike (Erickson) has done a great job of putting a lot of factors together to make it a great inaugural event for girls across the state,” he said. “Obviously with state basketball coming there later in the winter, as well as a variety of divisional tournaments they are hosting at Lockwood High School, they have done a great job. We appreciate Mike and the administration at Lockwood to host our events.”
While general admittance will not be allowed at the state girls wrestling tournament because of the ongoing crisis, wrestlers are allowed four spectator passes. Those fans who do venture into the gym will find seats for 2,700 said Erickson. Erickson estimated that in normal times, another 300 fans could line the indoor running track that overlooks the court.
It’s not just the indoor facilities Lockwood is proud of. While Lockwood already had its new turf football field — with soccer and lacrosse lines, too — Erickson said work should be done on a “complete turf” softball field in the spring.
“It will be a facility we can use for rain delays and stuff like that, that we’ll be able to play on that field,” Erickson said. “We are hoping to open that up to colleges and things like that so they have a place to play in case of the weather.”
Erickson said the track and cross country teams from Montana State Billings utilize the weight room and indoor running track at Lockwood and eventually others may also be using some of the facilities.
“We want to be a school in Yellowstone County that is here for everybody,” he said. “Our track, our football field, we have a softball field coming in. We want to work with colleges in our area and be able to utilize these things.
“Post COVID we hope to be working with the community and the whole county to create an atmosphere of brand new facilities for everyone if we can make it work.”