2014 Sports in Review

A recap of the most newsworthy accomplishments involving local athletes

By Dillon Tabish

A recap of the most newsworthy accomplishments involving local athletes:

Whitefish’s Voisin Qualifies for Winter Olympics

In late February, the streets of downtown Whitefish filled with residents who cheered on “Mighty Maggie,” the teenage freeskiing prodigy Maggie Voisin, who rose from the ski slopes of Big Mountain to the Winter X Games, where she earned a silver medal, and then the Winter Olympics, where she became the youngest member of Team USA in more than 40 years. Although Voisin injured herself during practice and never had a chance to compete in Sochi, Russia, it was still a milestone season for the precocious star. And the future still remains bright, despite another injury setback earlier this month that will sideline her this season.

Glacier Wins First Football Championship

With a 56-19 win over Great Falls C.M. Russell in late November, the Glacier Wolfpack celebrated its first championship as a high school football program and the first for a Kalispell team in over 40 years. The momentous victory at Legends Stadium concluded an undefeated 13-0 season with one of the most dominating victories ever in a championship game. The resounding victory also cemented Glacier’s legacy as one of the best ever. The Wolfpack outscored opponents 645-164 this season. Glacier’s 56 points were the most ever scored by a Class AA team in the title game and the margin of victory – 37 points – was the biggest in the Class AA title game since 1973.

Bigfork Ends Perfect Basketball Season with Title

The boys from Bigfork made history last spring when they capped a perfect 26-0 season by claiming the school’s first Class B basketball championship inside Bozeman’s Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. It was a fitting end to an unforgettable season as the Vikes became the first team from western Montana to win a Class B title in 26 years. Josh Sandry scored a game-high 23 points, Christian Evans exploded for eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and Ryder Trent had 13, including four clutch free throws in the final minutes to seal a 71-62 victory over Columbus, giving Bigfork fans what they’ve been waiting for for decades.

Makena Morley Breaks State Record, Wins Fourth XC Championship

Makena Morley will have plenty of fond memories from high school to look back on, especially from 2014. The Bigfork runner won multiple state championships in track as a junior last spring, sweeping the distance events. She also led the long relay to a title. As a senior in cross country this fall, she tore down her own all-class state record, crossing the finish line in 16:33.20 in Helena and winning her fourth Class B championship. A couple weeks ago, the future University of Montana runner placed third at Foot Locker Nationals. On Jan. 10, she will race with a handful of other Team USA runners at the Cross Country International Challenge in Scotland. And then she’ll return home for one final track season this spring, which will undoubtedly be memorable.

Columbia Falls Boys Win Another Hoops Title

One of Montana’s high school basketball dynasties brought home another trophy in March. The Columbia Falls Wildcats defeated Dillon 56-47 to win the Class A basketball title in Great Falls. It was the Wildcats’ fifth championship since 2003 and first since 2011, when Columbia Falls topped Dillon 55-43.

Beau Hill Rides into the National Finals Rodeo

Columbia Falls’ courageous cowboy — Beau Hill — rode his way to the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this winter. Atop a bull no less. The 35-year-old professional bull rider qualified for the top competition for the first time in 10 years. It was his third trip to the nation’s premier championship rodeo event in Las Vegas. His other two trips were in 2002 and 2004 when he finished seventh and fifth, respectively, in the world standings. After Round 10 at NFR, he ranked in second place with over $15,000 in winnings.

Glacier 13U Team Advances to World Series

For only the second time in state history, Montana had a Babe Ruth regional baseball champion. The Glacier 13U team captured the Pacific Northwest Regional Championship in Helena in the summer and advanced to the World Series in Glen Allen, Virginia. The Glacier squad, made up of players 13 and younger from Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Bigfork, rallied from an opening-round loss to sweep the remaining five games and win the regional title. The boys bowed out after a couple games at the World Series but regardless, it was a season to remember.

Avery Captures Second Golf Title; Schulz Wins First

The Flathead Valley has a long tradition of talented golfers, and two of the best female competitors in the game are teeing off here these days. Whitefish junior Coral Schulz won the individual championship at the Class A state tournament in Hamilton in October and led the Bulldogs to the team trophy as well, the girls’ first in seven years. In the Class AA ranks, Glacier junior Teigan Avery defended her title at Bridger Creek Golf Course in Bozeman, rallying back from a five-shot deficit and winning in a one-hole playoff.

Hill Finishes Freshman Season with All-American Honors

Another great runner from the Flathead Valley has emerged. Glacier freshman Annie Hill secured the Class AA state championship in cross country in October, a fitting end to a remarkable season. Earlier this fall, she won the Mountain West Classic in Missoula, unseating three-time winner Makena Morley and clocking one of the fastest times in state history, 16:39.64. At Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, she placed eighth among the top high school runners in the U.S. It earned her All-American honors and was one of the best finishes ever for a freshman.

Kalispell’s Reed Wins National Championship in Taekwondo

Taylor Reed, a 17-year-old black belt in taekwondo, won the AAU national championship in the junior light heavyweight division (161-172 pounds, 15-17 years old) at the U.S. National Championship competition in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His teammates, made up of competitors from Kalispell and Missoula, also came home with a team trophy, the first time a Montana squad has captured gold, according to team organizers.