Sports Roundup: Bouda, Popp Win State Swimming Titles

On the hardwood, Bigfork finishes regular basketball season undefeated

By Andy Viano

Bouda, Popp Win State Championships in Pool

Flathead’s James Bouda won two individual state championships and Glacier’s A.J. Popp took home another at the annual all-class state swim meet Feb. 9-10 in Great Falls.

Bouda, a senior, won the 50-yard freestyle and 100 breaststroke, setting one state record and narrowly missing another. The University of Wyoming commit swam the 50 free in 20.48 seconds, easily besting the previous state mark of 21.29 set by Billings Central’s Pierce Oja in 2015. Bouda finished the race more than a second ahead of Missoula Hellgate’s Darragh Mahns.

In the 100 breaststroke, Bouda touched the wall in 56.08 seconds, well clear of second-place finisher Nathan Peters (57.97) of Bozeman. His time was just slower than the state record of 55.97, set by Missoula Big Sky’s Adam Zimmer last year.

Popp won the girls 200 freestyle in a blistering 1:52.89, almost five seconds faster than the Jesse Ecklund of Hellgate, who was second. The win is the first state title for the junior, who also finished second in the 50 free. Her teammate, sophomore Caroline Dye, was third in the 50.

Glacier’s Alex Bertrand also placed (sixth, 200 individual medley), as did the Wolfpack girls’ 200 and 400 freestyle relay teams, who were second and third, respectively. Glacier’s girls wound up fourth in the team standings, behind state champion Hellgate, Bozeman and Missoula Sentinel.

Flathead’s boys earned a podium finish as a team, checking in third in the Class AA standings. It is the Braves’ best team finish since the opening of Glacier High School in 2007 and a remarkable turnaround from a year ago, when Flathead finished 14th out of 14 teams with zero points. This year’s Braves notched 125 points to finish behind Hellgate (304) and Bozeman (135). Helena was one point behind Flathead in fourth.

The Braves’ relay teams also found success, placing fourth in the 200 medley, third in the 200 freestyle and sixth in the 400 free. Junior Jace Reed nabbed two state placements, finishing third in the 100 butterfly (53.84) and 100 backstroke (54.65).

In Class A, Billings Central swept to the boys and girls team titles, one spot ahead of both Whitefish teams. Bulldogs sophomore Preston Ring placed twice, finishing fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:47.92) and fourth in the 100 breaststroke (1:02.31). Whitefish junior Annie Sullivan was fifth in the girls 500 freestyle (5:31.69).

Swimmers in all both Class AA and A compete in the same races at the state meet.

Bigfork Boys Complete Perfect Regular Season

Beau Santistevan scored 36 points and Bigfork raced past Thompson Falls 78-57 on Feb. 10 to finish the regular season with an unblemished record.

The Vikings (17-0, 6-0 District 7B) led just 31-27 at halftime but Santistevan poured in 15 third-quarter points and Bigfork’s edge swelled to 60-44 entering the fourth quarter. Logan Gilliard added 20 points of his own in the win.

Earlier in the week, the Vikings dispatched Class A Polson, 63-46. Bigfork will return to action Feb. 22-24 at the Western B divisional tournament in Butte.

Glacier, Flathead Boys Best Helena Schools

Kody Jarvis’ 21 points led Glacier to a road win at Helena High and Flathead came from behind to edge Capital on Feb. 10.

The Wolfpack (6-7, 4-3 Western AA) roared out to an 11-2 lead after one quarter and poured in 22 fourth-quarter points to earn the win. Brec Rademacher joined Jarvis in double-figures with 13 points.

Flathead (9-4, 5-2) avenged an overtime loss earlier this season to the Bruins with a nail-biting victory. The Braves trailed 25-16 at halftime but clamped down defensively in the last two quarters to pick up the win. Tyler Johnson and Eric Seaman each scored 12 to lead Flathead, which has won five of its last six games.

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