Best of Preps — Fall 2015

Top high school athletes from Flathead County

By Dillon Tabish & Greg Lindstrom

Luke May

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Quarterback \ Defensive Back

HT/WT: 6’0’’, 195 LBS

The son of a former coach, Luke grew up around Whitefish football. He looked up to the older players and dreamt of someday being a Bulldog himself. Now youngsters are looking up to the senior standout. On a talented team full of model leaders, Luke helped guide the Bulldogs to an historic season that ended with the first state championship since 1979. In the title game against Dillon, Luke passed for 162 yards and a touchdown, rushed for 94 yards and another TD and grabbed two interceptions on defense. He finished his season with 1,673 passing yards, 831 rushing yards and 38 combined touchdowns. He is among a group of seniors, including Chris Park, Jed Nagler and Brian FauntLeRoy, that can definitively say it revived a proud tradition. After competing in basketball this winter and track in spring, Luke is off to the University of Minnesota where he will throw the javelin in the Big Ten Conference.


Best of PrepsThomas Trefney

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Running back

HT/WT: 6’0’’, 200 LBS

Two games into the season, the defending state champions were 0-2. Anxiety spread among fans, but not in the Wolfpack locker room. Not when there are leaders like Thomas. Glacier’s bruising running back put the team on his back and helped carry it up the Class AA standings. The team won nine games in a row en route to another postseason berth, Glacier’s fifth in a row. In the playoffs, Glacier defeated Helena for the first time in program history, after Thomas rushed for 211 yards and a touchdown. The Wolfpack narrowly lost in the semifinals to eventual state champ Bozeman, but it was still another hallmark 9-3 season. Thomas, a two-year starter, finished his stellar senior season with 279 carries and 1,656 yards, both school records. He tallied 25 TDs, just shy of his school record 29 from a year ago, and was named the Western AA Offensive MVP to go along with his all-state honors for football and academics. He plans to play football in college but remains undecided.


Best of Preps

Josh McCracken

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Running back

HT/WT: 5’9’’, 195 LBS

It’s hard to imagine that only two years ago, Josh was rather unsure of his abilities. But when Flathead needed a leader to help rebuild the football program, Josh stepped up and things have certainly changed. A battering ram who was hard to take down, Josh piled up 1,279 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns this season and helped Flathead revive its proud tradition. The Braves put together their best season since 2008, going 6-5 and advancing to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. “All these people believed in me and that made me believe in myself,” he says. He rushed the ball 30 times or more twice, and racked up 220 yards in a single game against Great Falls. His rushing total was barely 100 yards shy of all-time great Lex Hilliard’s single-season school record. Josh remains undecided if he will play in college but he can certainly look back with pride on his FHS days.


Best of Preps

Jon Landon

SCHOOL: Bigfork

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Quarterback / Safety / Punter

HT/WT: 6’2’’, 192 LBS

Bigfork has had a solid string of quarterbacks in recent years, especially Josh Sandry, who left big shoes to fill after graduating last year. Jon was up to the challenge. In his one and only season as the Vikings’ starting signal caller, Jon guided the team to another Western 7B district championship and into the Class B playoffs. “Not a lot of people expected us to be as good as last year, but we believed in ourselves,” he says. In a pivotal matchup against Troy and the vaunted Sean Opland, Jon combined for five touchdowns as Bigfork won 49-7. Jon finished 16 of 26 for 219 yards, tossing two TDs and rushing for another pair, as well as 42 yards. He also caught a TD pass, reminding fans of his wide-range of abilities. Jon is now one of the leaders on Bigfork’s basketball team and is also an all-state golfer.


Best of Preps

Dakota Bridwell

SCHOOL: Columbia Falls

CLASS: Junior

POSITION: Quarterback

HT/WT: 5’11”, 200 LBS

Dakota and the Wildcats had plenty of motivation and inspiration this fall. Not only was the team focused on another playoff run, the squad wanted to win for Gabby Delorme, a senior football player in Columbia Falls who was diagnosed with leukemia before the season started. “We came together as a brotherhood and played for Gabby,” Dakota says. The bonding not only led to better chemistry, it also sparked big performances from the team, including Dakota. Against Browning, Dakota set a new Class A record for touchdown passes with seven. It tied the all-class mark for a single game, according to the Montana High School Association. Dakota ended the season with 1,553 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging 172 yards per game. Columbia Falls advanced to the playoffs once again and finished the season 5-4. With 12 all-conference players back next year, Dakota and the Wildcats are motivated to improve even more.


 

GOLF 

Best of Preps

Coral Schulz

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Senior

In only two years in Whitefish, Coral has established a lasting legacy for herself and the Bulldog golf team. A consummate leader and one of the best junior golfers in the region, Coral helped players of all ages and abilities, whether they were varsity or junior varsity, while sharpening her own championship skills this fall. As a result, she earned another Class A title and Whitefish brought home a team trophy as well. It wasn’t easy, though. In the final nine holes of the rainy state championship tournament, she was tied for the lead. Instead of her usual calm self, she collected herself with fierce focus. “I said, ‘I won’t lose.’” And she didn’t. Now, after graduating in spring, she will take her talents to Bozeman where she will compete for Montana State University.


Best of Preps

Tommy Mann

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Senior

Tommy started like most golfers, driving the golf cart as a young boy while his grandfather played at Buffalo Hill Golf Club. When Tommy was 10, his grandfather bought the boy his own set, and right away he was a natural. By freshman year of high school at Glacier, Tommy finished fourth at the state tournament, a remarkable achievement. But throughout his standout prep career, a title eluded him. Until now. At the championship tournament in Helena, Tommy fired his best rounds of the year, back-to-back 69s, and he captured the Class AA title by two strokes. He earned it the hard way; he trailed by one stroke in the final nine holes before firing a birdie, par, birdie to finish. He graduates as an academic all-state player and plans to attend San Diego State University but he will not compete on the golf course. Instead it will transition into a fun hobby.


 

VOLLEYBALL

Best of Preps

Kiara Burlage

SCHOOL: Columbia Falls

CLASS: Junior

POSITION: Outside Hitter

It’s fair to say the Columbia Falls volleyball team had a chip on its shoulder this season. After falling just short at last year’s state tournament, losing in a second-match finale to Belgrade, the Wildkats rolled into this season fiercely determined to claim the title. Entering the final match of the regular season, Columbia Falls was undefeated and one of the top teams in Montana. But then rival Whitefish humbled the girls, winning in five sets in late October to deliver Columbia Falls its first loss. That sudden defeat proved to be a beneficial wakeup call as Kiara and the Kats stormed through the postseason. In the championship match, Columbia Falls made quick work of Corvallis to win the program’s first state title since 1996. Kiara had two aces, eight kills and five blocks, and she finished the season with the most aces in the conference and second most digs. The girls, who are almost all returning next season, already have their sights set on defending their title.


Best of Preps

Jourdon Schultz

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Libero

As the Bravettes’ starting libero, Jourdon was closely tied to almost every play this season as Flathead put together another successful campaign that led to the state tournament. Flathead had plenty of highlights this season, including wins over Missoula Sentinel, crosstown rival Glacier, Billings Senior and eventual state champ Bozeman. The Bravettes advanced to the semifinal round before losing out; their season record settled at 15-7. For Jourdon, it was an exciting conclusion to her high school athletic career, which included trips to the postseason all four years, two academic all-state honors and all-state and all-conference honors. She was one of seven seniors who have played together since seventh grade, and who continued Flathead’s proud tradition on the volleyball court. She is considering playing in college but remains undecided.


 

SOCCER

Best of Preps

Colton Becker

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Striker

When he was an underclassman, Colton was a little undersized. He loved playing soccer but he would get pushed around on the pitch. Instead of letting frustration ruin his love of the sport, he went to work. He spent hours in the weight room and by his junior year, he had bulked up by 20 pounds. That season he scored 19 goals and led the Glacier soccer team to the state semifinals. This season he scored 16 goals and tallied six assists, both team highs, and helped Glacier finish third in the West and advance to the state tournament once again. Colton earned Class AA all-state honors and also academic all-state. He also can say he started every high school match of his career.


Best of Preps

Haley Nicholson

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Junior

POSITION: Forward in soccer / Kicker in football

It’s hard to imagine a more productive season than the one Haley had this fall. On the soccer pitch, she scored 31 goals — the most in Montana — and guided Whitefish to the state semifinals. She also kicked field goals for the Bulldog football team, making four of five including a 33-yarder. In the state championship football game, she hit a pivotal 22-yard field goal and made both extra points as Whitefish held off Dillon 17-13 to win the program’s first championship since 1979. “I was a little nervous because the ground was frozen and incredibly hard. It was hard to plant my feet,” she says. Haley made 45 of 49 extra points this season and scored the fifth most points in the Northwestern A conference. She gets to rest during winter but then will be back on the soccer pitch playing and preparing for another busy senior year.


 

CROSS COUNTRY

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Annie Hill

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Sophomore

The Hill family received a surprising phone call recently. A reporter from USA Today wanted to write a national story about this running prodigy from Montana who was 5-foot-2, 95 pounds and faster than wind. Young Annie is taking the running world by storm and demanding attention from beyond the Treasure State, where she took over the all-class cross country state record this fall with a championship time of 16:30.71 in Great Falls, breaking Makena Morley’s previous mark set in Helena a year ago. Last weekend in California, Annie continued her undefeated season by winning the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships West Regional. She clocked 18:12 for 5K to advance to this weekend’s national championship race in San Diego. She entered last weekend’s race as the fifth-ranked high school runner in the nation. The Glacier sophomore won the championship girls race last month at the Nike Northwest Regional in Boise, Idaho.


Best of Preps

Jake Perrin

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior

The Perrin pedigree is well known in Montana’s running circle. The Lakeside household has produced its latest fleet-footed distance runner in Jake, who in only two cross country seasons has already captured a Class AA title and clocked one of the fastest times in recent history. At the state championship meet in Great Falls, Jake crossed the finish line in 14:47, 20 seconds faster than his previous best and only six seconds off the hallowed all-class state record set in 1993. It was the fastest time for a Class AA state champion since 1999, when Flathead’s David Vidal won in 14:42 in Helena. Jake is the latest in a long line of skilled Flathead distance runners, including his older brother Zach, who is now running at the University of Colorado. Jake is training all winter with one final prep track season in mind, and the hope that his gold medal collection isn’t complete.


Best of Preps

Bryn Morley

SCHOOL: Bigfork

CLASS: Sophomore

Bryn followed up her phenomenal freshman season with a stellar second act, claiming the Class B girls state championship in 17:26. Her winning time was a minute and a half faster than the runner-up. Bryn also helped lead the Bigfork girls team to its first team championship since 2002. Bryn has taken the torch from her older sister, Makena, and both sisters have reinvigorated the running tradition in Bigfork. In recent years, the program did not have enough runners to field a team but now it’s a young championship squad with a bright future. Bryn has had to battle shin splints that sidelined her from competing in national races this year, but she is using the slowdown as an opportunity to work on her overall fitness and strengthen her legs, with track season just around the corner.


Best of Preps

Logan Morley

SCHOOL: Bigfork

CLASS: Senior

Just as he was cruising through the final cross country season of his illustrious prep career, Logan ran into a sizeable hurdle. Logan was diagnosed with an iron deficiency, which caused significant fatigue and weakness during endurance races. It could have sidelined his season, like it almost did for his sister Makena a year ago, but Logan battled through it. Although his times were not up to his standard, he still claimed one more state championship medal. At the state meet in Great Falls, he successfully defended his Class B title, clocking 15:36.02. Logan now owns two titles as well as second-place and third-place medals from the state meet. While addressing his health issues, he plans to train all winter for track season and then move on to Colorado State University-Pueblo, where he will continue competing alongside former Columbia Falls state champ Derrick Williams.


 

MORE STARS

FOOTBALL  –  Class AA

Caleb Jones, Glacier, Senior, Cornerback 1st Team / Wide Receiver / 1st team

Cody Howe, Flathead, Senior, Defensive Lineman 2nd Team

Tadan Gilman, Glacier, Junior, Linebacker 1st Team

Seth Adolph, Flathead, Junior, Punt Returner 1st Team

Jacob Ridgway, Flathead, Senior, Linebacker 2nd Team / Long Snapper / 2nd Team

Nathan Hammer, Glacier, Senior, Defensive Lineman Honorable Mention / Offensive Tackle / 2nd Team

Sam Barber, Glacier, Junior, Safety 2nd Team

Jake Willich, Glacier, Senior, Safety 2nd Team

CJ Dugan, Flathead, Senior, Safety 2nd Team

John Learn, Glacier, Senior, Linebacker 2nd Team

Adam Heastan, Glacier, Senior, Offensive Guard 2nd Team

Leif Ericksen, Glacier, Senior, Quarterback 2nd Team

Cameron Anderson, Glacier, Junior, Kicker 2nd Team

Keaton Krantz, Flathead, Senior, Wide Receiver 2nd Team

Nate Sommers, Flathead, Senior, Special Teams Honorable Mention

Matt Gash-Gilder, Flathead, Junior, Defensive End Honorable Mention

Jaxen Hashley, Glacier, Junior, Defensive End Honorable Mention

Gary Kenfield, Glacier, Senior, Defensive Lineman Honorable Mention

Logan Wilson, Flathead, Senior, Linebacker Honorable Mention

Trae Vasquez, Flathead, Sophomore, Cornerback Honorable Mention

Wyatt Smith, Flathead, Senior, Tight End Honorable Mention

Andrew Klamecki, Glacier, Senior, Offensive Tackle Honorable Mention

Anthony Wright, Flathead, Senior, Offensive Tackle Honorable Mention

Aaron Wisher, Flathead, Senior, Offensive Tackle Honorable Mention

Roger Guillory, Glacier, Senior, Offensive Guard Honorable Mention

Kellen Bemis, Glacier, Junior, Center Honorable Mention

James Jepsen, Flathead, Senior, Offensive Guard Honorable Mention

Scout Willcut, Glacier, Junior, Wide Receiver Honorable Mention

Noah Lindsay, Glacier, Senior, Wide Receiver Honorable Mention

Payton Boyce, Flathead, Senior, Fullback Honorable Mention

FOOTBALL  –  Class A

Blake Arneson, Columbia Falls, Senior, Center

Jed Nagler, Whitefish, Senior, Wide Receiver

Zach Baker, Columbia Falls, Junior, Tackle

Chris Park, Whitefish, Senior, Running Back

Steven Quimby, Whitefish, Senior, Defensive Lineman

Chaffin Ross, Whitefish, Senior, Defensive End

Stephen Lindsey, Columbia Falls, Senior, Defensive End

Alex Curry, Whitefish, Senior, Defensive End

Travis Catina, Whitefish, Junior, Linebacker

Brian FauntLeRoy, Whitefish, Senior, Safety

Sean Miller, Columbia Falls, Junior, Cornerback

FOOTBALL –  Class B

Austin Pacheco, Bigfork, Senior, Offensive Lineman / Defensive Lineman

Matthew Farrier, Bigfork, Junior, Linebacker / Running Back

Adam Jordt, Bigfork, Senior, Cornerback / Wide Receiver

Russel Goeden, Bigfork, Senior, Center

Logan Taylor, Bigfork, Sophomore, Defensive End

CROSS COUNTRY

Logan Harmon, Glacier, Senior, Class AA 7th Place

Kaitlin Wride, Flathead, Sophomore, Class AA 6th Place

Barrett Gray, Whitefish, Senior, Class A 2nd Place

Sara Perez, Whitefish, Senior, Class A 12th Place

Anya Young, Bigfork, Freshman, Class B 3rd Place

Matty McAnally, Bigfork, Senior, Class B 8th Place

Alicia Kalenak, Bigfork, Freshman, Class B 13th Place

VOLLEYBALL  –  Class AA

Xio Lopp, Flathead, Senior, Setter 2nd Team

Hailee Bennett, Glacier, Senior, Libero 1st Team

VOLLEYBALL  –  Class A

Cydney Finberg, Columbia Falls, Junior, Setter

Allie Schulz, Whitefish, Senior, Outside Hitter

Morgan Stenger, Columbia Falls, Junior, Middle Blocker

Cailyn Ross, Whitefish, Sophomore, Middle Hitter

SOCCER  –  Class AA

Stephanie Wilson, Flathead, Senior, Midfielder

McKayle Dennehy, Glacier, Senior, Midfielder

SOCCER  –  Class A

Brandon Karberg, Columbia Falls, Junior, Goalie

Walter Sobba, Whitefish, Senior, Midfielder

Lexi Strouse, Columbia Falls, Senior, Defense

Sydney Grilley, Columbia Falls, Senior, Defense

Tavia Bechtel, Columbia Falls, Senior, Midfielder

Ellie Johnson, Columbia Falls, Senior, Defense

GOLF

Ryan Keenan, Flathead, Senior, Class AA 6th Place

Teigan Avery, Glacier, Senior, Class AA 2nd Place

McKenna Tinseth, Glacier, Junior, Class AA 8th Place

Cole Turgeon, Whitefish, Senior, Class A 10th Place

Joey Walp, Whitefish, Senior, Class A 10th Place

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