Best of Preps — Spring 2019

The top high school athletes from Flathead County

From left, Kennedy Grove, Mikenna Ells, Emily Gunlikson and Lauren Schulz, photographed for Best of Preps on June 5, 2019. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

Kennedy Grove, Mikenna Ells, Emily Gunlikson and Lauren Schulz

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Three seniors and a sophomore (Ells)

HIGHLIGHTS: The members of Whitefish’s state-title winning 4×100 relay team posted seven additional top-four finishes in individual events and led the Bulldogs to their first state title in 35 years

Winning a state championship for the first time since the 1980s would have been surprising enough, but this Bulldogs team wasn’t even supposed to be in contention. Whitefish finished third as a team in the Western A divisional the week prior, but then went out and dusted the field at the state meet with a monsoon of podium finishes and personal bests. Still, Grove and her teammates could hardly believe what was happening even as the event was still taking place. “Toward the end of the second day we started figuring out that we were so far ahead in points and we were like, ‘Wait, what?’” The Bulldogs posted 14 total all-state (top-six) finishes, including wins in both relays, to end up 20 points clear of the rest of the field. “Even now, it’s crazy to think about,” Gunlikson said. Schulz added, “I think we’re all kind of still in shock a little bit.”

Ashton McAnally

SCHOOL: Bigfork

CLASS: Junior

HIGHLIGHTS: Ashton won the Class B state shot put title on her final throw, a heave of 38 feet, 5 3/4 inches, and also qualified for the state meet in the discus

Entering the final round of throws at the state meet in Kalispell, Ashton was sitting pretty and in position to win her first state shot put title, but by the time her turn came around again, she needed nothing less than the best throw of her life to stay on top. And that’s just what Ashton delivered. The junior battled through “a lot of pressure,” topped two other throwers who exceeded 38 feet and claimed a state championship with a personal best effort, one she knew she had secured as soon as it left her hand. “That was amazing. I felt relieved and just so excited,” she said. “I jumped in the air, looked at my coach, ran over to him and gave him a big hug.” Ashton has her sights set on 40-plus feet in the shot put next year and an improvement on her 11th-place finish in the discus.

Rory Smith

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Sophomore

HIGHLIGHTS: Rory won his second straight divisional title, then battled his way through the field at the Class AA tournament to become Glacier’s first state champion since 2013

There was nothing particularly easy about Rory’s road to becoming a state champion, but the gritty 5-foot-6 sophomore went 3-for-3 in tiebreakers in the final two rounds and ended the tournament atop the field with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-1 win against previously undefeated Connor Joly of Bozeman in the final. Rory’s been a mainstay in the top singles spot for the Wolfpack since he arrived in high school and finished fifth in the state as a freshman. This year in Great Falls, Rory won a marathon 7-6 (7-3), 2-6, 7-6 (7-4) semifinal against Missoula Sentinel’s Ethan Violette before tangling with Joly, who had not dropped a set in the tournament before the final. The normally understated Rory quickly celebrated his win, and then enjoyed a victory milkshake with family and friends. “During the match I try to be pretty quiet and respectful, but after the match, once you win, it’s all yours,” he said.

Ben Perrin

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior

HIGHLIGHTS: The Gatorade Montana Cross Country Runner of the Year followed up that season with a nearly flawless year in track, winning state titles in the 1,600 and 3,200

Ben had the unique opportunity to run his final high school races on his home track, and the senior came through with first-place finishes in the 1,600 and 3,200 at Legends Stadium, the second and third track titles of his career. The youngest of three highly acclaimed Perrin brothers, Ben may have missed out on middle brother Jake’s state records in track, but he did manage to put together an almost perfect season, winning every cross country race he entered in the fall and crossing first in each 1,600 and 3,200 he ran in the spring. “It means a lot,” Ben said of the undefeated campaign. “The point of a race is to win. I had some time goals, but to have not lost a race for most of the year, that’s pretty cool.” Ben has earned a scholarship to run at Montana State University beginning this fall.

Kynzie Mohl

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Sophomore

HIGHLIGHTS: Kynzie played all over the field and helped the Wolfpack win the Western AA conference regular season title, earning all-state honors for the second straight year

A central piece of one of the top offenses in the state, Kynzie has already established herself as one of the most dangerous and versatile players in Montana in just two seasons. One year after batting a gaudy .451, Kynzie hit .397 as a sophomore and led Glacier with four home runs and a .557 on-base percentage while playing all over the diamond, including at shortstop and behind the plate. Kynzie even became a regular in the circle for the Wolfpack, making nine starts and boasting a team-best 1.58 ERA. While Glacier’s season ended prematurely at the state tournament, Kynzie and her teammates did enjoy an 11-game winning streak late in the year, an unbeaten stretch that lasted more than a month. “A lot of times we couldn’t believe it,” she said. “We were like, ‘Oh, we haven’t lost in really long time. This is weird.’”

Drew Morgan

SCHOOL: Columbia Falls

CLASS: Senior

HIGHLIGHTS: Drew qualified for state in six events and placed in five, including the short relay where he ran the opening leg as the Wildcats won a title and broke the school record

In the final competition of his stellar high school career, Drew got to feel something he had felt only once before — the euphoria that comes with winning a state championship. Drew started things off and gave Columbia Falls the lead in the 4×100 relay, which they ran in 43.01 seconds to edge runner-up Laurel, setting off a celebration that rivaled the emotion of winning a title on the football field his junior year. “When we won I just went and hugged my teammate, and it was just a few seconds of glory,” he said. Drew was plenty busy elsewhere at the state meet, too, finishing second in the 100, fourth in the 200, sixth in the 400 and third in the javelin. A three-sport standout at Columbia Falls, Drew is putting his competitive sports career behind him and is planning to enroll in the pharmacy program at Flathead Valley Community College in the fall.

Lee Walburn

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Senior

HIGHLIGHTS: Lee capped a wildly successful senior season with the first state championship of his career, winning the 300-meter hurdles in a season-best 39.83 seconds

Lee reached the starting line for the long hurdles at this year’s state track meet with memories of a disappointing third-place finish in 2018 still bouncing around in his head. The senior was coming off a win at the Western A divisional for the second straight season and staring down his last chance to become a state champion. This year, there would be no disappointment. “I was just trying to keep calm and be confident,” he said. “When I went out of the blocks my body felt really good … It was crazy. Just a lot of emotions.” Lee ended up walking away from state with four total medals, finishing third in the 110 hurdles and as part of the long relay, and adding a fourth-place finish in the 400. Also an all-state basketball player, the multi-talented senior is already training as a decathlete ahead of his next stop at Carroll College.

Angellica Street

SCHOOL: Columbia Falls

CLASS: Junior

HIGHLIGHTS: Angellica won a second straight state championship at the end of a record-smashing season in the javelin, and added a third-place medal in the shot put

The unassuming Angellica already throws the javelin farther than any girl in Montana high school history and she still has another year to get even better. The junior broke the modern all-class girls record by throwing 158 feet, 8 inches on May 9, and then eclipsed the all-class state meet mark with a toss of 156-11 at the Class A finals in Laurel later in the month. She outdistanced the field at the state meet by more than 37 feet, but as impressive as that effort was, it still fell short of Angellica’s pre-meet goal of 160 feet. “Obviously I didn’t get there, but that’s another goal for next year, to come back and go strong.” Angellica has a chance to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials next year if she continues to improve at her current pace, and has set that as her next goal, once she’s done with a whirlwind summer of college camps and recruiting visits.

Drew Deck

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Junior

HIGHLIGHTS: Drew won a state championship in the 300 hurdles and piled up five total medals during a long Class AA state track and field meet

Drew was a busy guy at Legends Stadium the last weekend of May, lining up in six different events — the 400 meters, 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles, 4×100 relay, long jump and triple jump — and coming away with a top-six finish in everything but the triple. Staring at a weekend filled with action, Drew had a mantra he said helped him stay sharp no matter what he was doing. “Prelims or not, one race at a time, one jump at a time. The night before I was a little bit overwhelmed, a little bit nervous, but that definitely helped.” Drew’s biggest race was the long hurdles, and after falling behind the leader early he surged ahead in the final few meters and crossed the line in 38.98 seconds, the fastest time in Class AA this season. Drew is also an all-state wide receiver for the Wolfpack and plans on playing football in college.

Madde Boles

SCHOOL: Flathead

CLASS: Senior

HIGHLIGHTS: Madde broke through to win a state championship in the high jump after back-to-back fourth-place finishes at state as a sophomore and junior

Madde didn’t know what happened next. She and Butte’s Anna Trudnowski had both missed at 5 feet, 7 inches after otherwise clean rounds and sat tied at the end of the Class AA high-jump competition at Legends Stadium. After some discussion, the deadlock was broken by a nearly unprecedented jump-off, with both leapers going back and forth at different heights until one cleared a mark that the other could not. Trudnowski went first in each round and, finally, in round nine, clipped the bar at 5-5. Boles came next, launched herself skyward and landed on the other side as a state champion. “What stood out to me was the ending of it after I finally made a jump; all the in between is kind of a blur now,” she said. “I felt relief and I just started crying immediately.” Madde will jump at Carroll College next season.

Gracie Smyley

SCHOOL: Whitefish

CLASS: Sophomore

HIGHLIGHTS: Gracie took home the Class A girls singles title in her first season of prep tennis in Montana and helped lead the Bulldogs to the team title as well

Gracie grew up in Whitefish but spent her freshman year of high school in Florida, so when she grabbed her racket this spring she couldn’t have known precisely how she matched up against the state’s top tennis players. As it turned out, she stacked up pretty well. Gracie didn’t lose a match all season and didn’t drop a set in the state tournament, taking home the Class A girls singles title with a 7-5, 6-3 win against Livingston’s Bobbi Lima in the finals, sealing her victory at almost exactly the same moment as her teammates, Aubrey Hanks and Olivia Potthoff, were winning the doubles crown. “Right away, I didn’t really process (the win) but once I stepped off the court and met up with the doubles girls it felt really good,” she said. “I was like, ‘Wow, we just won state.’ It was pretty awesome.”

Trista Cowan

SCHOOL: Columbia Falls

CLASS: Senior

HIGHLIGHTS: A three-sport standout, Trista was part of a state champion in basketball in 2017 and led the Wildkats softball team to four straight state tournaments

Softball was Trista’s first athletic love, the one she first played before kindergarten, and the sport where she won two of her three all-state accolades in high school (the other came in basketball this season). Trista played shortstop for the Wildkats and hit a mind-boggling .587 this year with plenty of pop, bashing 13 doubles, four home runs, racking up a team-leading 32 RBIs and walking 14 times against just one strikeout. She and her teammates fell short of a trophy but won three state tournament games this year, nothing new for Trista and her classmates, all of whom were part of an incredibly accomplished and decorated class of girl athletes at Columbia Falls. “(We’re) crazy close,” she said. “It helps our team chemistry a lot, especially in softball … knowing and getting along with everybody really helps us be successful.”

Faith Brennan

SCHOOL: Glacier

CLASS: Junior

HIGHLIGHTS: Faith qualified for the state track and field meet in four events and landed on the podium twice, in the triple jump and the short hurdles

A school-record triple jump of 38 feet, 4 1/2 inches highlighted a full and fruitful state meet for the junior, who qualified for four events this season after competing in three at state a year ago. Faith finished fourth despite the school record in the triple jump and added a second podium finish by crossing sixth in the 100-meter hurdles, although she was in the top three when she clipped the penultimate obstacle in that race. Faith also reached state in the long jump and as part of the short-relay team, and prepared herself for a full slate of events by loading up on carbs, shopping for healthy snacks and getting her mind in the right place. “I mentally prepared myself a lot,” she said. “I still had all the energy (at the end of the meet), but at the end of the night, phew, I was tired.”

Trey Christiaens

SCHOOL: Bigfork

CLASS: Senior

HIGHLIGHTS: After three straight near misses at the state tournament, Trey won a dramatic three-set duel in the finals to take home the Class B/C state title for the first time

Trey was done with high school tennis after last season. For the third time in as many years at Valley Christian High School in Missoula, he had reached the semifinals of the state tournament and came away disappointed, finishing third after two prior second-place finishes. He and his family moved to Bigfork after the season and for 10 months Trey did not pick up a racket. But when the tennis season rolled around the temptation to give it one more try was too great, and the senior shook off the rust, crammed in exhaustive practice sessions late in the year and pulled off a grueling 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 win in a three-hour state championship match. “I was kind of shocked for a second — I was like, ‘Wait, is it really done?’ I wasn’t totally sure because I have been working for it for so long,” he said. “The championship feeling is great.”


More Stars

Track and Field

Class AA Boys

Tannen Beyl, Flathead, Junior, 6th place short relay

Kyle Calles, Flathead, Senior, 1st place 800

Blake Counts, Flathead, Senior, 6th place short relay

Jaden MacNeil, Flathead, Senior, 6th place short relay

Seth Moon, Flathead, Senior, 2nd place long jump / 2nd place triple jump

Tanner Russell, Flathead, Junior, 6th place javelin

Chance Sheldon-Allen, Flathead, Junior, 1st place 100 / 2nd place 200 / 4th place long jump / 6th place short relay

Cole Crosby, Glacier, Senior, 4th place short relay / 4th place long relay

Zach Gillespie, Glacier, Junior, 5th place javelin

Sean Hegstad, Glacier, Senior, 4th place 400 / 4th place short relay / 4th place long relay

Simon Hill, Glacier, Junior, 5th place 3,200

Tre Krause, Glacier, Senior, 4th place shot put

Ben Schwaller, Glacier, Senior, 4th place long relay

Dyllyn Stabler, Glacier, Senior, 4th place 100 / 4th place 200 / 4th place short relay

Evan Todd, Glacier, Senior, 2nd place javelin

Class AA Girls

Jessica Barnhart, Flathead, Junior, 4th place short relay / 6th place 100

Rebecca Eacker, Flathead, Sophomore, 5th place discus

Meaghan Fisher, Flathead, Senior, 3rd place long relay

Hannah Heath, Flathead, Senior, 6th place shot put

Kennedy Kanter, Flathead, Junior, 4th place short relay

Cerise Lee, Flathead, Freshman, 3rd place long relay

Kayla Martin, Flathead, Senior, 5th place shot put

Tori Noland-Gillespie, Flathead, Sophomore, 3rd place long relay

Mikayla Shinn, Flathead, Senior, 3rd place long relay / 4th place short relay

Skyleigh Thompson, Flathead, Sophomore, 4th place short relay

Taylor Brisendine, Glacier, Sophomore, 5th place long jump

Mya McNeely, Glacier, Junior, 2nd place shot put

Kenzie Williams, Glacier, Sophomore, 5th place javelin

Class A Boys

Kaedan Clewien, Columbia Falls, Senior, 1st place short relay

Daniel Henjum, Columbia Falls, Junior, 1st place short relay / 6th place 100

Aidan Jarvis, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, 6th place 3,200

Zackary Pletcher, Columbia Falls, Senior, 1st place short relay

Devin Beale, Whitefish, Junior, 5th place short relay

Josh Dudley, Whitefish, Junior, 3rd place long relay / 5th place short relay

Jack Eisenbarth, Whitefish, Senior, 5th place pole vault

Marvin Kimera, Whitefish, Sophomore, 3rd place long relay

Sam Menicke, Whitefish, Junior, 4th place triple jump

Jack Schwaiger, Whitefish, Senior, 3rd place long relay / 5th place short relay

Class A Girls

Genevieve Delorme, Columbia Falls, Senior, 3rd place long relay

Lara Erickson, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, 5th place 3,200 / 6th place 1,600

Alexis Green, Columbia Falls, Freshman, 3rd place long relay

Madeline Robison, Columbia Falls, Freshman, 3rd place long relay / 5th place long jump

Josie Windauer, Columbia Falls, Junior, 3rd place long relay

Natasha Abramchuk, Whitefish, Sophomore, 5th place 100 hurdles

Ella Greenberg, Whitefish, Senior, 4th place 800

Jessica Henson, Whitefish, Junior, 6th place 3,200

Tommye Kelly, Whitefish, Freshman, 1st place long relay

Erin Wilde, Whitefish, Freshman, 2nd place high jump / 6th place long jump

Class B Boys

Wyatt Duke, Bigfork, Sophomore, 2nd place high jump

Brody Lamar, Bigfork, Senior, 5th place shot put

Class B Girls

Audrey Buenz, Bigfork, Sophomore, 2nd place short relay / 3rd place long relay

Jessy Frey, Bigfork, Sophomore, 2nd place short relay

Rakiah Grende, Bigfork, Senior, 3rd place long relay

Jordan Nelson, Bigfork, Senior, 2nd place short relay / 3rd place long relay / 4th place 200 / 6th place 100

Heidi Schneller, Bigfork, Senior, 2nd place short relay / 3rd place long relay


Class AA

Addie Labrum, Glacier, Junior, All-State Outfielder

Allee Meyer, Glacier, Junior, All-State Second Baseman

Sage Vanterpool, Glacier, Junior, All-State Pitcher

Halle Schroeder, Glacier, Sophomore, Second Team All-Conference Designated Player

Macy Craver, Flathead, Freshman, Second Team All-Conference Outfielder

Brianna Morales, Flathead, Sophomore, Second Team All-Conference Third Baseman

Sammie Labrum, Glacier, Freshman, Honorable Mention All-Conference Third Baseman

Alyssa Cadwalader, Flathead, Sophomore, Honorable Mention All-Conference Outfielder

Ilyssa Center, Flathead, Sophomore, Honorable Mention All-Conference Utility Player

Riley Chouinard, Flathead, Senior, Honorable Mention All-Conference Shortstop

Class A

Kaylee Ashe, Columbia Falls, Senior, All-State Outfielder

Alyssa Blankenship, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, Second Team All-Conference Utility Player

Ryley Kehr, Columbia Falls, Senior, Second Team All-Conference Infielder

Graceanne Sevesind, Columbia Falls, Junior, Honorable Mention All-Conference Infielder


Class AA

Maria Frampton, Glacier, Senior, 3rd place girls singles

Joston Cripe, Flathead, Freshman, 5th place boys singles

Class A

Aubrey Hanks, Whitefish, Junior, 1st place girls doubles

Olivia Potthoff, Whitefish, Senior, 1st place girls doubles

Brendan Buls, Whitefish, Senior, 2nd place boys singles

Hannah Schweikert, Columbia Falls, Sophomore, 3rd place girls singles

Mark Anderson, Whitefish, Senior, 4th place boys doubles

Colter Upton, Whitefish, Junior, 4th place boys doubles

John Gilk, Columbia Falls, Senior, 6th place boys doubles

Camryn Lingle, Columbia Falls, Junior, 6th place boys

Class B

Payton Crawford, Bigfork, Senior, 2nd place girls singles

Clayton Reichenbach, Bigfork, Senior, 3rd place boys doubles

Colton Reichenbach, Bigfork, Senior, 3rd place boys doubles

Meredith Bedford, Bigfork, Junior, 4th place girls doubles

Ahna Fox, Bigfork, Senior, 4th place girls doubles


Isabella Santistevan, Bigfork, Junior, Class B 6th place

Carly Stodghill, Bigfork, Junior, Class B 8th place

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