Best of Preps – Spring 2015

Top high school athletes from Flathead County

By Dillon Tabish // Photos by Greg Lindstrom

Ali Williams

School: Glacier
Class: Junior
Highlights: Ali struck out 272 batters in 154 innings and notched a 1.36 ERA and 20-3 record as Glacier’s all-state ace, leading the Wolfpack to the program’s first softball championship.

This was more than a breakout season for Ali. This was a tireless campaign of staggering brilliance. Glacier’s right-handed ace stormed through spring, striking out 272 batters in 154 innings, an average of 12 per seven innings. She achieved four no-hitters and 19 complete games. Her ERA was a mere 1.36 and her record had only three losses alongside 20 wins. Ali pitched every inning of every game at the Class AA state tournament, striking out 43 batters in 28 innings over three days as Glacier captured its first championship. She helped herself out from the batter’s box all season, batting .459 with 11 homeruns and 31 RBI. She and her catcher, Christine Connolly, had practiced all season how they would celebrate winning the championship if it ever happened. “We told each other, we’re going to win this. This is our year,” Ali says. With the victory sealed, Ali bear-hugged Christine and held her in the air as jubilation erupted at the end of an unforgettable season.


Best of Preps

Kayleena Ikeda

School: Glacier
Class: Senior
Highlights: Kayleena helped lead Glacier to its first softball state championship and was Class AA all-state at second base, committing only two errors in 21 games and hitting .260 with three homeruns and 12 RBI.

With the state championship game tied at 3-apiece in the bottom of the sixth inning, Kayleena stepped up to bat and belted a solo homerun, sparking the Glacier Wolfpack rally against Missoula Big Sky. Teammate Christine Connolly added a two-run homer as insurance and the following inning, Kayleena tagged out a runner at second base for the third out, sealing Glacier’s first softball state championship. It marked a fitting conclusion for Kayleena and her teammates, who built a powerhouse this spring and finished the season 20-3 overall. “That was our goal from day one. We set some ambitious goals,” she says. “Being senior year, we wanted to do our best and go out with a bang.” Kayleena sure did; her final at-bat in high school was just like her first at-bat as a varsity player her sophomore year — a homerun blast.


Best of Preps

Cain Boschee

School: Glacier
Class: Senior
Highlights: Cain ran a leg on the Class AA state champion 400 relay team (42.57) and placed fourth in the 200 (22.57) and sixth in the 100 (11.27).

Cain comes from a track family. His father, Jerry, and mother, Michele, both competed at North Dakota State University. His older sister, Lexy, graduated from Glacier with multiple state championships and is now also competing at NDSU. Although Cain developed into an all-state football player and plans to play at Dickinson State University next fall, it was inevitable that he would add a few medals to the family collection before finishing high school. The senior sprinter won two Western AA division titles, in the 100 and 200, and competed in four events at the state championship meet in Kalispell. He brought home three medals and was one second from winning the title in a hotly contested 400 race. His speed on the 400 relay helped the Glacier boys win gold in 42.57, alongside Scout Willcut, Riley Connell and Aaron Robinson. It bookended a remarkable senior year that began with a football state championship.


Flathead's Monica White. Best of Preps on June 3, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Monica White

School: Flathead
Class: Senior
Highlights: Monica earned fifth in the 200 (25.74) and sixth in the 100 (12.62) at the Class AA state championship meet.

When Monica was a freshman running track, her goal was to compete at the state championship meet. In one of her final weeks of high school, she stood on the podium twice in her hometown, state medals around her neck in front of cheering family and friends. Monica ran personal-best times in the 100 and 200, earning sixth and fifth, respectively. Her times were barely one second behind the state champs, reflecting the tough competition this spring. “I was really happy with my final season. It was personally my best finish,” she says. Although it was never her goal from the start, Monica is now continuing on after high school and will run track at Carroll College.


Best of Preps

Stephen Lindsey

School: Columbia Falls
Class: Junior
Highlights: Stephen placed fourth in the long jump (20-5.5) and ran on the fourth-place 400 relay team (43.96) at the Class A state track meet.

Stephen is a familiar face in the weight room at Columbia Falls High School and his dedication paid off this year as he excelled in both football and track. He’s competed in the sprints and jumps since junior high and this spring marked the first time he earned a medal at the state championship meet. In the long jump competition, he overcame nerves to land his best jump of the weekend on his first leap, 20-5.5. It held on for fourth-place. “It was intense. I had a lot of adrenaline going,” he says. He also ran on the 400 relay team, which placed fourth. Now he’s back in the weight room preparing for football season, when he hopes to develop into one of the Wildcats senior leaders.


Columbia Falls' Carla Nicosia. Best of Preps on June 3, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Carla Nicosia

School: Columbia Falls
Class: Senior
Highlights: Carla captured the Class A state championship in the triple jump (37-3.25), tied for third in the high jump (4-10), placed fourth in the 100 hurdles (15.51) and ran on the fourth-place 400 relay team (50.93).

The list of Carla’s accomplishments is as inspiring as it is unbelievable. She placed second at the high school power lifting state championships this spring, bench pressing 205 pounds and squatting 280. At the recent Class A state championship track meet, she excelled in four varied events, sprinting, jumping and hurdling her way to four all-state medals. And last but not least, she graduated last weekend at the top of her class with a 4.01 GPA. “It’s awesome to go out like that. It shows that hard work pays off,” she says. She accomplished all of this while managing diabetes, which she has had since she was 3. Now Carla is destined for the University of Montana where she received a scholarship to compete in track.


Glacier's Keyawna Larson. Best of Preps on June 3, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Keyawna Larson

School: Glacier
Class: Senior
Highlights: Keyawna won her third straight Class AA girls javelin championship and set a new state record, throwing 144-7.

Stepping up to compete at the Class AA state championship track meet, Keyawna wasn’t nervous. And then she looked around and saw how many people were there to watch the two-time state champion throw the javelin. “It made me really nervous all of a sudden,” she says. No need to worry, Keyawna lived up to the crowd’s expectations, throwing the javelin 144-7, which won her a third consecutive championship and set a new state record. “I’ve worked for three years to accomplish that goal,” she says. “Finally I have something to put my name on.” Her individual accomplishment helped Glacier earn second as a team, the program’s best finish to date. Keyawna will take her talents to North Dakota State University, which has one of the best javelin programs in the nation.


Whitefish's Jed Nagler. Best of Preps on June 3, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Jed Nagler

School: Whitefish
Class: Junior
Highlights: Jed won individual Class A state championships in both the 100 (11.15) and the high jump (6-5) and teamed up to capture two more gold medals with the relay teams. He also placed second in the 200 (22.54).

It’s not an exaggeration to call Jed one of the best all-around athletes that Montana has produced in recent memory. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, the Whitefish junior is an all-state football player with championship speed and jumping abilities. This spring Jed cleared 6-6 in the high jump and won the state championship with 6-5. He also ran away with the 100-meter dash title in 11.15. He stayed busy competing in the discus and helping both relay teams capture gold. “I pushed it. It was another long day,” he says. Now his attention is centered back on football, which is the sport he will most likely be known for. The University of Montana and Montana State University have both already offered him full-ride scholarships but he’s keeping his options open as he attends elite regional camps and enters his senior campaign. His goal is simple: “Copy this year but better,” he says.


Best of Preps

Logan Morley

School: Bigfork
Class: Junior
Highlights: Logan won the Class B state championship in both the 1600 (4:24.29) and the 3200 (10:04.38). He also placed third in the 800 (1:57.75).

Logan has developed a fierce reputation in the distance races, combining nimble footwork with competitive mental toughness. The Bigfork junior whittled down his times in all three distance races this spring, and at the Class B state track meet in Kalispell Logan ran a personal best in both the 800 (1:57.75) and 1600 (4:24.29). He finished a half second out of first place in the 800 and placed third. He defended his title in the 1600 and won another state championship the next day, easily claiming the 3200. After the season, he took two weeks off before returning to his training regimen with next year’s senior season in mind. “This year was a really good stepping stone for next year,” he says. “I’m excited to see what I can do.” His college plans are already decided; he verbally committed to compete at Colorado State University-Pueblo, where Derrick Williams, a former state champion distance runner from Columbia Falls, is competing.


Best of Preps

Makena Morley

School: Bigfork
Class: Senior
Highlights: Makena won the Class B state title in the 3200 (10:37.76) and helped the Bigfork 1600 relay team win gold (4:01.71) and break the state record. She also placed second in both the 800 (2:16.70) and 1600 (5:01.69).

Her legacy is unforgettable and undeniable — one of the greatest distance runners in Montana history. For the past four years, Makena has dominated in a way that few athletes have. She stunned spectators and inspired contemporaries. She set and achieved audacious goals, earning international glory. She lapped opponents before aiding them at the finish line. She overcame defeat and physical ailments. At her final state track meet in Kalispell, her iron levels were nearly half of what they should have been. She still won one last championship in the 3200 and then, in her last race in high school, ran a leg on Bigfork’s 1600 relay team, which set a new state record. All together she won seven individual state titles in track and four in cross country in high school. Makena graduates on to the University of Montana, where she will begin an exciting new chapter.


Best of Preps

Jake Perrin

School: Flathead
Class: Junior
Highlights: Jake won the Class AA state championship in the 1600 (4:21.17) and placed second in the 3200 (9:30.67).

A year ago, Jake was just starting to develop a passion for distance running. He was inspired to give it a try after watching his older brother Zach, a multiple state champion at Flathead who is now running at the University of Colorado. “I liked watching Zach run,” he says. “I thought maybe I could be good at it too if I worked hard at it.” A year later, Jake has a state championship of his own. The Flathead junior cruised to victory in the 1600, running a smart, gutsy race that seemed fit for a savvy veteran. Many runners need years to run in the low 4:20s, but not Jake. Running has become Jake’s new passion and it’s also brought the two brothers closer together even from long distances apart. Eager to follow in Zach’s footsteps, Jake is training all offseason, hoping to continue his championship stride through his senior year of cross country and track.


Whitefish's Grace Kurtz. Best of Preps on June 3, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Grace Kurtz

School: Whitefish
Class: Senior
Highlights: Grace placed third in both the Class A 100 (12.69) and 200 (26.05), fifth in the 400 (1:00.17) and ran on both the second place 400 relay team (50.25) and second place 1600 relay team (4:07).

Knowing this was the last competition in her prep career, Grace left it all out on the track. At the Class A state championship meet, the Whitefish senior ran personal-best times in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes, 12.69 and 26.05, respectively, and placed third both times. She landed on the podium again after the 400-meter dash, but she didn’t stop there. As a member of both relay teams, Grace helped Whitefish finish second. “We had a really great bunch of girls and we just really connected,” she says. At the end of the meet, she was exhausted but proud of her final competition before graduating and attending Seattle Pacific University. “I really felt like I put it all out there,” she says.


Best of Preps

Joseph Potkonjak

School: Bigfork
Class: Junior
Highlights: Joseph shot a 1-over 73 to tie for second place at the Class B state golf tournament.

After struggling the first day of the Class B state championship golf tournament, Joseph had a decision to make. He could ease through the final 18 holes, or he could go for it. That’s exactly what he did. The Bigfork junior, known for his powerful 370-yard drives, rallied back up the leaderboard from sixth place and birdied the last two holes, finishing tied for second. “I didn’t have anything to lose, so I just went for it,” he says. His individual finish helped the Bigfork boys team claim a third place trophy. This summer Joseph will compete in all of the elite tournaments against the state’s best golfers, including the Labor Day Tournament at Buffalo Hill and Fourth of July Tournament at Whitefish Lake Golf Club. Keep an eye out for the prep standout to hold his own against the best adults in the field.


Best of Preps on June 3, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Hunter Blalack

School: Glacier
Class: Senior
Highlights: Hunter placed second in the Class AA state singles bracket and helped the Glacier boys tennis team earn third place.

As a varsity standout all four years, Hunter earned a reputation for being one of the state’s best singles players. As a freshman, he placed fourth at the Class AA state tournament and earned sixth as a sophomore, helping the Wolfpack win the team championship. The anticipation of his final season motivated him to focus even harder on finishing strong, and that’s what he did. Hunter defeated Colin Bahim of Missoula Big Sky for the Western AA Divisional trophy and cruised into the finals at the state tournament. He ended up placing second, which still stands out as his best finish in high school. “Making it to the final was really big,” he says. The individual accolades helped Glacier earn third place as a team. Now Hunter is off to BYU-Hawaii for college.


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More Stars

Track

Class AA Boys

Jess Beaman, Flathead, Senior, Triple Jump State Champion; Third Place Discus; Fifth Place Long Jump; Sixth Place Shot Put

Austin Cook, Glacier, Senior, State Champion Long Jump

Aaron Robinson, Glacier, Junior, State Champion 400 Relay; Third Place 200; 110 Hurdles

Riley Connell, Glacier, Senior, State Champion 400 Relay

Scout Willcut, Glacier, Junior, State Champion 400 Relay

Devin Cochran, Glacier, Senior, Fourth Place Triple Jump

Hunter Nicholson, Glacier, Sophomore, Fifth Place Triple Jump

Brock Sandry, Glacier, Senior, Fifth Place 3200

Harrison Kauffman, Glacier, Senior, Third Place Shot Put

Sylas Schutt, Flathead, Senior, Third Place 1600; Third Place 3200

Chade Gonter, Flathead, Senior, High Jump State Champion; Fifth Place 110 Hurdles

Josh McCracken, Flathead, Junior, Fourth Place Discus

Bram Booth, Flathead, Junior, Second Place Javelin

Tobias Barton, Flathead, Senior, Fourth Place Pole Vault

Keaton Krantz, Flathead, Junior, Third Place Long Jump

Class AA Girls

Annie Hill, Glacier, Freshman, State Champion 3200; Second Place 1600; Second Place 800; Third Place 400

Elizabeth Thompson, Flathead, Sophomore, Sixth Place 800

Kaitlin Wride, Flathead, Freshman, Fourth Place 3200; Fifth Place 1600

Janae Moon, Flathead, Senior, Fifth Place Triple Jump

Gillian Maness, Flathead, Junior, Fourth Place 1600

Megan Russell, Flathead, Senior, Third Place Long Jump

Ahna Kreitinger, Glacier, Sophomore, Fourth Place 300 Hurdles

Brielle Bumgarner, Glacier, Senior, Second Place Triple Jump; Sixth Place Long Jump

Nikki Krueger, Glacier, Sophomore, Fourth Place Discus; Third Place Shot Put

Courtney Mitchell, Glacier, Sophomore, Sixth Place Discus

Tessa Krueger, Glacier, Senior, Fifth Place Shot Put

Class A Boys

Keaton Grove, Whitefish, Senior, State Champion 110 Hurdles; Sixth Place 300 Hurdles

Luke May, Whitefish, Senior, State Champion Javelin

Brian FauntLeRoy, Whitefish, Junior, Sixth Place 400; State Champion 400 Relay; State Champion 1600 Relay

Luke Cardon, Whitefish, Senior, Fifth Place 800; State Champion 400 Relay; State Champion 1600 Relay

Peter Mow, Whitefish, Junior, State Champion 400 Relay

Gauge Anderson, Whitefish, Junior, State Champion 1600 Relay

Tanner Dana, Columbia Falls, Junior, Sixth Place 200

Kyler Burns, Columbia Falls, Junior, Sixth Place High Jump

Logan Kolodejchuk, Columbia Falls, Freshman, Sixth Place Triple Jump

Ty Morgan, Columbia Falls, Senior, Third Place Javelin

Class A Girls

Samantha Mundel, Columbia Falls, Senior, State Champion 1600; State Champion 3200; Second Place 800

Kiara Burlage, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, State Champion 1600 Relay; Sixth Place Long Jump

Keavyn Baker, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, State Champion 1600 Relay

Hannah Gedlaman, Columbia Falls, Freshman, State Champion 1600 Relay

Miranda Livingston, Columbia Falls, Junior, State Champion 1600 Relay

Allyson Gimbel, Columbia Falls, Junior, Second Place Shot Put

Sarah Latcham, Whitefish, Senior, Fifth Place 800; Fifth Place 1600; Second Place 1600 Relay

Allie Schulz, Whitefish, Junior, Third Place 100 Hurdles; Fourth Place 300 Hurdles; Second Place 400 Relay;

Lydia Kryshak, Whitefish, Freshman, Second Place 400 Relay; Second Place 1600 Relay

Ellie DeWan, Whitefish, Freshman, Second Place 400 Relay; Second Place 1600 Relay

Kate Doorn, Whitefish, Sophomore, Second Place High Jump

Class B Boys

Tyler Iverson, Bigfork, Senior, Second Place Discus; Third Place Shot Put

Class B Girls

Bryn Morley, Bigfork, Freshman, State Champion 800; State Champion 1600; Second Place 3200; Third Place 400; State Champion 1600 Relay

Gabby Eaton, Bigfork, Sophomore, State Champion Pole Vault

Haile Norred, Bigfork, Freshman, State Champion 1600 Relay; Second Place 400; Fourth Place 100; Third Place 200; Second Place 400 Relay

Riley Coleman, Bigfork, Senior, Sixth Place Discus

Matti McAnally, Bigfork, Junior, State Champion 1600 Relay; Second Place 400 Relay; Sixth Place 300 Hurdles

Madison Gardner, Bigfork, Freshman, Second Place 400 Relay

Marissa Hiza, Bigfork, Senior, Second Place 400 Relay

Tennis

Class A

Emily Getts, Columbia Falls, Junior, Fourth Place State

Softball

Class AA

Erin McHugh, Glacier, Sophomore, Second Team Western AA

Kayla Russell, Glacier, Senior, Second Team Western AA

Abbie O’Brien, Flathead, Junior, Second Team Western AA

Kylee Meredith, Flathead, Sophomore, Western AA Honorable Mention

Kaitlin Torgerson, Flathead, Junior, Western AA Honorable Mention

Katie Wiley, Glacier, Senior, Western AA Honorable Mention

Class A

Ashley Trueblood, Columbia Falls, Senior, All-State

Peyton Kehr, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, First Team Northwestern A

Lottie Ellis, Columbia Falls, Junior, Second Team Northwestern A

Carlee Brown, Columbia Falls, Senior, Second Team Northwestern A

Michaela McDowell, Whitefish, Junior, Northwestern A Honorable Mention

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