Three years ago, then-sophomore Spencer Jones, his family and some members from the Florence wrestling community got to work building a small practice facility for the Falcon's high school grapplers.

Each season since, Jones and Co. try to add some sort of upgrade to the shop-style accommodation. Most recently, Jones, now a senior, found a tossed-away couch sitting on the side of the road in Florence.

In true blue-collar fashion, the brawny wrestler muscled the couch into the back of his truck and brought it home. The wrestling room needed some seating after all.

"For two years we didn’t have water or anything and we had an outhouse," said fourth-year Florence wrestling coach Brian Volkmann, whose squad was wrestling at Florence Carlton Community Church before moving into its new home. "Now we’ve got a little cold water and we make do.

"It’s rugged, but this is high class now," Volkmann added, as some of his wrestlers began to warm up on the maroon mats. "We’ve put a lot of time into it."

Jones has quite possibly put in the most time in the wrestling room.

And that's not just because it's literally in his back yard.

Jones, who is the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 205 pounds in the latest Class B-C rankings, is putting in the work on the mat because he's got a goal in mind — one that started before the foundation was poured on his team's training room three seasons ago.

"This is the starting point for a state chipper run," Spencer said Wednesday sitting on the room's "new" couch. "(I'm) going for it."


Last year, Jones nearly accomplished his individual goal. All along the way, though, he kept running into Eureka's Garrett Graves, now playing football for the University of Montana.

"I’d be nervous going into the matches, I mean, he’s a great athlete and a great wrestler, so it’s hard to prepare for a guy like that," Spencer said of Graves, a two-time state wrestling champion who went undefeated in his junior and senior seasons.

"But it taught me discipline."

In fact, Jones almost caught Graves in last year's 182-pound state championship match in Billings. The Eureka standout, who won by a slim 12-9 decision, got out to an early lead and did just enough to hold off Jones.

"If we would have had another 30 seconds, who knows?" coach Volkmann said. "(But Spencer) found out he could push himself further than he ever thought he could. It was disappointing (to lose in the championship at state) but it drove him. This year is the result of that."

This year Jones has been that unbeatable force atop B-C wrestling. The Florence senior is a perfect 12-0 through the season, including a sweep at the CMR Holiday Classic, a massive 54-team tournament in Great Falls that includes schools from all classifications. Jones was the only wrestler west of Butte to take home an individual title at that tournament.

The wrestler was also a standout for the Florence football team, taking home all-state honors as a linebacker on the Falcons.

His play on the gridiron earned him a nod to the 73rd annual Shrine game, one of Montana's premier all-star football showcases. Jones and teammate Zach Blomquist, who was named an alternate to the Shrine game, are Florence's first Shrine game selections since 2007.

"We preach toughness and integrity and (Spencer's) integrity is off the charts and his toughness is off the charts," Florence football coach Pat Duchien said. "He's just one of those kids that's overlooked a little bit in the state of Montana. But with the East-West looking at his highlights and noticing it there, I think he's going to be a special kid for a collegiate program somewhere."

Those collegiate aspirations have Spencer actually wrestling up in weight in his senior season. Instead of cutting to 182 pounds, Jones — who usually weighs in around 195 pounds — opted to wrestle at 205.

But coach Volkmann says Jones easily makes up the difference in size where it matters.

"He’s got a huge heart," Volkmann said. "On the mat he’s a warhorse, but off the mat, he’s just a kind, big-hearted guy. "If you need a hand, Spencer’s the first to come running. He’s like family.

"That’s what our group is, we’re really tight, we’re like family."

It only makes sense then that Jones' immediate family would've wanted to build a place for the wrestling team.


The structure that now houses Florence wrestling was the brainchild of Spencer's dad, Shan, and grandpa, Steve. They provided the property, just off the East Side Highway in Florence and poured the foundation.

"I just thought it’d be a lot better deal and they’d feel a little more at home if they had a place of their own," Shan said. "... It’s made me feel good to give back to the wrestling community like that; (I think) we’re the only Class B school in the state that I know of that doesn’t have some sort of wrestling room at the school."

Other members of the Florence wrestling family provided the siding and insulation; coach Volkmann brought in trampoline mats to line the walls; the kids installed a pull-up station, made from an old bench-press bar.

"I think it gives them a little pride that we do our own thing here. We’ve got our rules, but this is our place, our thing, we do it our way," Volkmann said.

It's a tight squeeze now for the some 15 wrestlers out for Florence this season, but the Falcons — ranked No. 9 as a team in the Class B-C polls — don't mind.

Those four walls give Florence a bit of an identity — a sort of rugged toughness that can't be beat.

It's only fitting that Spencer, searching for his first state wrestling title, is there spending his time.

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