They were fast friends, the American and the Austrian embarking on their senior year of basketball and books together.
By the end of that one preparatory year together, theyd decided to continue together through college, with both settling on a Division II school nestled in the Durango mountains.
Now, six years after their first encounter, theyll embark on one last NCAA Tournament run together .
Matthias Weissl and Torrey Udall first came into contact as seniors at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale. Weissl was the new kid on the block, a foreign exchange student from Salzburg, Austria, working on learning the customs and language of his new home halfway around the world. Udall helped Weissl pick up the customs, the language and the U.S. political system he is the nephew of Mark Udall and cousin of Tom Udall, both U.S. Senators.
Enter Udall, who took Weissl under his sizeable wing and helped him through the process.
Torrey basically put me under his wing because when I came here, my language wasnt as proficient as it is right now, Weissl said, with barely a hint of any accent. He basically took care of me and showed me the American way of life, which I really appreciate, and then we ended up becoming really close friends.
The two quickly discovered they had mutual interests, not least of which was basketball, which was a big reason Weissl landed in the U.S. in the first place.
The duo became a force in Class 3A, helping the Rams to a berth in the state quarterfinals after the 2007-08 season. Udall averaged 17 points and 10 rebounds that season, while Weissl scored 22 points and chipped in four assists and three steals per game.
After that, the two decided theyd try to continue their careers at the same school. Weissl was keen on Fort Lewis uptempo style, one that was more like what hed grown up with in Austria, playing for local club teams in leagues that often had 24-second shot clocks.
The other school that recruited me was (Colorado) Mesa, and they play the opposite. They just pack it in and dont play very European-style basketball, Weissl said. Thats why I really preferred Fort Lewis.
Mesa, Western State and UC-Colorado Springs expressed interest in Udall, but the Skyhawks came in later in the game and found a way to land the 6-9 center.
It was pretty clear after a few visits here and pretty proactive recruiting that this was a good place to be, Udall said.
After playing at an all-state level as seniors, both Udall and Weissl came into their freshman years with impressive pedigrees. However, past performance doesnt necessarily trump proven skills at the collegiate level, and both redshirted the 2008-09 season, sitting and watching more experienced players and learning what it took to be successful, not only at the collegiate level but at a school with the kind of track record held by FLC.
I tell the younger kids this all the time: Its something worth waiting for, Udall said. And the speed of the game is faster than you expect. And youre not as good as you think you are.
Its humbling to come to a good program and compete and improve and hopefully get your chance when it comes.
It also helped them settle in academically, which paid off. Weissl, an economics major, is a three-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference All-Academic honor roll selection, while Udall was an honor roll choice once and first-team selection the last two seasons.
As they grew into regular contributors on the floor, they also found that their roles werent the same as back at Roaring Fork.
In high school, they were stars, handling the bulk of the scoring load and filling stat sheets.
At FLC, theyve been valuable role players, with Udall averaging 6.3 points and 4.6 rebounds per game this season and forming a formidable front-court combination with fellow 6-9 center Alex Herrera. Weissl has been a sharpshooting option off the bench throughout his career.
What really helped us is when we first came in, we had guys like Ryan Jameson, Jordan Brooks and Kirk Archibeque on our team that were just on a different level of basketball. ... That made us realize, Wow, this is a different level. We have to work a lot harder to compete with those guys on a daily basis, Weissl said.
Now, the two will complete their final season in FLC blue and gold with their second NCAA Tournament run. The first proved fruitful the Skyhawks qualified for the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history in 2011.
Then, its off to an advertising internship with BBDO Worldwide (Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn) in Munich for Udall, wholl take his turn experiencing culture shock and a brand new language. And Weissl will fulfill his nationally mandated duty of either community or military service by working in marketing for the government in Salzburg, an apropos 90 miles from Munich and Udall.
But for now, its all about the goal in front of them and the goals recently achieved. One more chance for them to accomplish something on the basketball court together.
Its the biggest reward, Udall said. I tell all the guys that come in there (are) very few goals that we set out at the beginning of the year, and making regionals is at the top of that list. To get a regional win would be the ultimate satisfaction, ultimate reward for our career.