OPINA'S OPINION: Chinook Honors Fallen Teammate by Responding li - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

OPINA'S OPINION: Chinook Honors Fallen Teammate by Responding like Champions

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: This Blog was meant to compliment another article on Jesse Dannels. This blog focuses on Chinook's performance at state. To read my favorite moments with Jesse, click here)

I’ve always believed that character is determined by how you bounce back after hitting rock bottom.

The Chinook Sugarbeeters wrestling team couldn’t have hit rock bottom any harder after losing their beloved teammate, Jesse Dannels, to a fatal car crash. It happened not even a week before the 2016 State Tournament.

The Beeters responded like champions.

Chinook delivered a resilient, heart-felt and inspiring performance en route to repeating as the Class C Team Champions. It was their 2nd repeat in school history (Chinook won four in a row, 2009-2012)

Every single Beeter who competed at the state tournament honored Jesse by placing in their respective weight classes.

Jake Norby Placed 3rd and 152

Derek Bell placed 5th at 160

Kevin Young placed 4th at 205

Kenneth Pruttis placed 1st at 170

Tate Niederegger placed 1st at 138 (repeat performance)

I couldn’t be happier for Tate. Jesse was his best friend. Tate honored Jesse in the best way: by winning an individual title to cap off a perfect 46-0 season.

“We had a mission coming in here,” said Niederegger when speaking to our reporter on the scene Jake Jones. “We’re doing it for Jesse and we did it.”

“Since this past night, I made it a mission to be at the top of that podium,” said Pruttis. “I prayed for him every night and he came through for me today.”

The Beeters originally qualified 6 wrestlers for state and this team made sure that all six would be there.

The team brought Jesse’s picture with them, signifying that he was with them. Head Coach Perry Miller even said they brought Jesse’s bag to symbolize that he’s with the team in spirit (credit Chris Peterson of the Havre Daily News for that info)

Ryan Reid, Jesse’s older brother, told me at the memorial service, “Jesse’s legacy is love.”

Jesse treated his teammates like family. He loved them. And they loved him in return.

That loved pushed them to repeat. But in reality, this team was a champion before they ever competed at the state tournament.

They never needed the trophy to begin with, but it's definitely nice to have.

“A true champion is not how you win, it’s how you come back.” – Kobe Bryant.

The way this team came back from adversity, there’s no question that the trophy didn’t belong anywhere else except for in Chinook.

"When you have ups and downs, you just gotta find a way to get to the ups," Jesse Dannels once said in a TV interview. "You find a way."

Boy did this team find a way to get to the ultimate "Up."

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Follow me on Twitter: @DerekOpinaKFBB

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