Sports

Best of Preps — Fall 2018

The top high school athletes from Flathead County

Logan Gilliard

SCHOOL: Bigfork

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Offensive Line/Linebacker

A star on the hardwood as well as the gridiron, Logan led Bigfork to its best football season in years as a two-way all-state honoree for the 9-2 Vikings. Logan paved the way for all-state running back Randy Stultz as an anchor on the offensive line but indulged his true passion at linebacker, terrorizing offenses as Bigfork held nine of its 11 opponents under 19 points. Logan will have one more season of basketball for the defending state champion Vikings before, he hopes, donning his football jersey once again in college. “I just love it,” he said of football. “I don’t mean to sound dumb, but I just love the physicality of it all, the camaraderie … It’s just a great game; the best game on the planet.”

Keegan Wold

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Offensive Line/Defensive Line

Keegan rode the Whitefish roller coaster during his four years on the varsity roster, winning a state championship as a freshman, plummeting to a one-win season as a junior, then bouncing back to bring the Bulldogs to the Class A playoffs this year. An all-state selection at nose guard and an all-conference pick on both the offensive and defensive lines, Keegan was a two-year captain whose hard work paid off in a big way when Whitefish upset Butte Central for their first win of 2018, a harbinger of good things to come. “This year, I wanted to leave everything out on the field and not have any regrets,” he said. “We had goals we set and we accomplished almost all of them.”

Colten McPhee

SCHOOL: Columbia Falls

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Running Back/Linebacker

Colten leaves Columbia Falls as the centerpiece of one of the best classes in program history. A four-year varsity contributor, Colten helped lead the Wildcats to four playoff berths, three straight Class A semifinals, back-to-back trips to the title game and the 2017 state championship. This season, Colten was named the Northwest A Conference Most Valuable Player on both offense and defense, breaking single-season school records in rushing yards (2,003), rushing touchdowns (31) and combined touchdowns (38), while also leading the team with 87 tackles. He’ll continue his football career next season at Montana Western. “When I was in fifth grade we went undefeated in the Flathead Valley and we had a really good team,” he said. “If we stuck together, I knew we could do big things.”

Blake Counts

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Running Back

A two-year starter, Blake entered his senior year with a personal goal in mind: setting the school’s single-season rushing record. As it turned out, that bar was way too low. Blake smashed Lex Hilliard’s school-record mark by early October and put together the greatest statistical season in Montana history, compiling an all-class record 2,588 yards on the ground. Just as significantly, Blake led Flathead to the Class AA state championship game for the first time since 2000, running for 198 yards in a heartbreaking 20-14 loss at Billings West. “It’s not just an accomplishment for me,” he said of setting the state record. “It’s an accomplishment for this entire team. Without those guys I couldn’t have done it.”

Preston Blain

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Running Back

Glacier’s coaches took one look at Preston his freshman year and assumed they were eyeing a future benchwarmer. Instead, they got the latest in a line of all-state rushers to wear the Wolfpack uniform. In his only season as a significant contributor, Preston ran for 1,622 yards and earned all-state recognition as a running back and kick returner, and brought Glacier back to the Class AA playoffs. Even Preston admits he wasn’t certain he’d ever contribute at the varsity level, but a commitment to conditioning and training after his sophomore year pushed him into the mix. “None of this could have really happened without my coaches,” he said. “They found a way to feed me confidence but keep me humble and hungry.”


SOCCER

Josie Windauer

SCHOOL: Columbia Falls

CLASS: Junior

POSITION: Forward

One of the most dangerous strikers in Montana, Josie’s 28 goals this year were just two short of the Wildkats’ single-season program record, although she collected her biggest score of 2018 shortly after the season when she landed a scholarship to play at the University of Montana in 2020. Before she departs for Missoula, Josie has one more season at Columbia Falls and a chance to both etch her name in the history books and lead her young team to the top of Class A. “It was a fun season,” she said. “We made it to the (state quarterfinals) and we were close to both of the teams (that played in) the championship, so it gives us a lot of confidence for next year. I’m really confident for next year.”

Xander Burger

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Midfielder

It would be tough to write a more storybook ending to a career than the one Xander wrote for himself in the Class A state championship match. Playing at home against conference rival Polson, Xander scored a state-record five goals in Whitefish’s 6-2 victory to end his season as a champion. The Bulldogs were in the title match in 2017 as well, a contest Xander missed with an injury, but that defeat remains Whitefish’s most recent loss after the Bulldogs went 14-0-1 in 2018. Next year, Xander will likely hang up his competitive cleats to study environmental science in college. “Obviously you have some memorable moments, like that (state title) game,” he said. “But most of my memories of soccer are just hanging out with good people; friends that I’ve played with.”

Shayenn and Skyleigh Thompson

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior and Sophomore

POSITION: Forward

For the past two years, sister strikers Skyleigh and Shayenn have relished the pregame ceremonies before every match. “I love when they introduce you (one after the other),” Shayenn said. “It’s already starting off like, ‘Yes, you get two of us.’” This year, the sisters also ended the season in another lineup together, as both made the Class AA all-state team after guiding the Bravettes to their first state tournament since 2014. Shayenn, a senior, led Flathead with 13 goals and will head to the University of Providence in Great Falls next year while Skyleigh (8 goals, 6 assists) and the Bravettes hope to continue to ascend. “I really hope that the team chemistry that we built this year stays within our team next year,” she said. “Because we ended on a very good note.”

Colter Goss

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Forward

Colter’s final season of high school soccer marked the beginning of a new era for the Braves, who fell just short of a Class AA state playoff spot in the first season under new coach and former Flathead standout Zach Brenneman. For Colter and his teammates, Brenneman’s arrival coincided with renewed enthusiasm, and the result was a five-win conference season, matching Flathead’s best year since 2008. The new feeling also netted all-state honors for Colter, who led the Braves with seven goals and 15 points in the regular season. “This year, with a new coach, and with everybody being so close it was just more fun,” he said. “That made it more enjoyable and that built chemistry.”


CROSS COUNTRY

Ben Perrin

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior

Ben’s perfect season was not assured until about the second mile of the Class AA state cross country meet in Missoula when he pulled away from the lead pack and held on to cross the line first. The state title brought Ben even with his brothers, Zach and Jake, both of whom also raced to championships for the Braves, but Ben’s career stood out for its consistency as he improved his place at the state meet every year and went 8-for-8 in race wins as a senior. Next year, Ben will likely join his brothers as a high-level college runner, although he’s so far undecided on a destination. “It was awesome,” he said of the state title. “All of my hard work and team’s hard work and our coaches’ efforts making us a good team paying off.”

Joe Lamb

SCHOOL: Columbia Falls

CLASS: Junior

Joe fell about 20 seconds short of a personal best despite taking home third place at the Class A state meet, but all he and his teammates cared about when they crossed the finish line was each other. Joe was one of three Columbia Falls runners to finish in the top 11, four in the top 20 and five in the top 38, a balanced effort that was good enough to give the Wildcats their first state title since 2009. “In our hearts, I guess, we knew that we had taken it home,” he said. “But what it really comes down to is that official result: hearing everybody say this team, Columbia Falls, came out on top. That was the big moment where it hit all of us.”


VOLLEYBALL

Julia Burden

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Junior

POSITION: Outside Hitter

Julia and her teammates took a big step forward in 2018, leading Flathead to 21 wins and a trip to the Class AA state tournament for the first time since 2015. At the state tourney, the Bravettes won two more matches — including a thrilling five-set comeback against conference rival Helena — to finish fourth. Julia ended the regular season ranked in the top 10 in Montana in kills per set and became the first Bravette to fetch first team all-state recognition since 2013. Next year, as a senior, Julia once again has her eyes set on reaching Bozeman at season’s end. “It was very fun,” she said of her first tournament experience. “I want to make it to state again.”

Kali Gulick

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Senior

POSITION: Middle Hitter

Kali’s last season of volleyball saw her take on a new role as a leader on an inexperienced young team, and the Wolfpack started to click late in the year, winning their last three regular-season matches before being bounced in a state tournament play-in. Kali did get to experience the state tournament twice in her career, including a run to a third-place trophy as a sophomore. Next year, Kali will commit herself fully to basketball, where she’s already signed to play at MSU-Billings, but she leaves volleyball behind with nothing but happy memories. “I love how fast-paced it is and the different energy that it brings,” she said of volleyball. “I love the coaches and I love all the players; it’s just been a really fun sport.”


GOLF

Cameron Kahle

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Sophomore

Cameron is not one to set expectations low. Before the 2018 season, the sophomore planned to take down Libby’s ultra-talented Ryggs Johnston. That didn’t happen, as Johnston won a fourth-straight state championship this fall, but the Whitefish youngster was next, carding his best two rounds of the season at Hamilton Golf Course (73-72) to come up eight strokes short. In preparing for next year, even with Johnston out of his way, Cameron isn’t taking anything for granted, dedicating himself solely to golf and rising early every morning with his eyes on a scratch handicap and state title in 2019. “I’d watch (Johnston) in awe,” he said. “I’d be like, I want to be that guy … See what it takes to become a great golfer like he is.”

Marcella Mercer

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Sophomore

Marcella burst onto the local golf scene as a freshman, placing ninth at the Class AA state tournament, before taking her talents on the road this past summer to play in a number of regional and national events. There, when she wasn’t explaining precisely where Montana is on a map to her fellow competitors, Marcella honed her skills against the top young golfers from around the world, and the result was an even better sophomore year at Flathead that ended with a fifth-place finish at the 2018 state tourney. As for the next two years, her target is aimed even higher. “I’d love a state title in high school,” she said. “I’d love to play college golf as well, and I guess we’ll see where that takes me afterward.”

More Stars

All-State Selections

Football — Class AA

Tanner Russell, Flathead, Junior, Defensive End

Patrick Hammond, Flathead, Senior, Offensive/Defensive Lineman

Andrew Siderius, Flathead, Senior, Offensive/Defensive Lineman

Sebastian Koch, Flathead, Senior, Offensive/Defensive Lineman

Gunnar Landrum, Flathead, Senior, Linebacker

Paxton Boyce, Flathead, Junior, Linebacker

Brian Wells, Flathead, Junior, Safety

Chance Sheldon-Allen, Flathead, Junior, Cornerback/Kick Returner

Seth Moon, Flathead, Senior, Cornerback

Garrett Rieke, Flathead, Junior, Special Teams

Logan Siblerud, Flathead, Senior, Tight End

Cole Dalager, Flathead, Junior, Offensive Lineman

Max Anderson, Flathead, Junior, Offensive Lineman

Anthony Jones, Flathead, Senior, Wide Receiver/Punter

Jaden Macneil, Flathead, Senior, Athlete

Eric Gardner, Flathead, Junior, Kicker

Seth Moon, Flathead, Senior, Long Snapper

Ethan Baines, Glacier, Senior, Defensive End

Cole Crosby, Glacier, Senior, Linebacker/Fullback/Punter

Garrett Frost, Glacier, Senior, Safety

Garrett Lally, Glacier, Senior, Offensive Lineman

Nico Young, Glacier, Senior, Offensive Lineman

Drew Deck, Glacier, Junior, Wide Receiver

Football — Class A

Drew Morgan, Columbia Falls, Senior, Quarterback

Jakob Beich, Columbia Falls, Senior, Offensive Lineman

Taylor Gladeau, Columbia Falls, Junior, Offensive Lineman

Gage Karlin, Columbia Falls, Senior, Offensive Lineman

Zack Pletcher, Columbia Falls, Senior, Defensive End

Tanner Gove, Columbia Falls, Senior, Linebacker

Parker Greene, Columbia Falls, Senior, Linebacker

Brad Nieves, Columbia Falls, Junior, Linebacker

Lane Sapa, Columbia Falls, Senior, Safety

Brayden Stone, Columbia Falls, Junior, Safety

Carver Gilman, Whitefish, Senior, Kicker

Football — Class B

Anders Epperly, Bigfork, Senior, Quarterback

Randy Stultz, Bigfork, Senior, Running Back/Defensive Back

Soccer — Class AA

Kenzie Williams, Glacier, Senior, Defender/Midfielder

Soccer — Class A

Kaylee Ashe, Columbia Falls, Senior, Midfielder

Flora Jarvis, Columbia Falls, Junior, Defender

Maddie Robison, Columbia Falls, Freshman, Midfielder

Anna Akey, Whitefish, Freshman, Defender

Grace Benkelman, Whitefish, Junior, Midfielder

Anna Cook, Whitefish, Junior, Midfielder

Story Stemborski, Columbia Falls, Junior, Keeper

Joshua Gunderson, Whitefish, Sophomore, Defender

Joseph Houston, Whitefish, Junior, Defender

Sam Menicke, Whitefish, Junior, Midfielder

Casey Schneider, Whitefish, Junior, Forward

Volleyball — Class AA

Taylor Henley, Flathead, Senior, Middle Hitter

Volleyball — Class A

Ryley Kehr, Columbia Falls, Senior, Middle Hitter

Marlee Bender, Whitefish, Senior, Middle Hitter

Volleyball — Class B

Brooke Fraley, Bigfork, Senior, Outside Hitter

Cross Country

Tori Noland-Gillespie, Flathead, Sophomore, Class AA 13th Place

Jade Greenberg, Whitefish, Senior, Class A Fourth Place

Ella Greenberg, Whitefish, Senior, Class A Sixth Place

Anya Young, Bigfork, Senior, Class B Eighth Place

Simon Hill, Glacier, Junior, Class AA Second Place

Aren Alexander-Battee, Glacier, Senior, Class AA Third Place

Seth Umbriaco, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, Class A 4th Place

James Role, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, Class A 11th Place

Golf

Ella Shaw, Whitefish, Junior, Class A Third Place

Megan Archibald, Whitefish, Junior, Class A Seventh Place

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