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Wednesday, May 31, 2007

Sports at a Glance

All stories by Jean Schurman

Second for the Lady Falcons

Local athletes do well at state

Third for the Lady Broncs

Second for the Lady Falcons

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. The Lady Falcons of Florence should have capitalized on some opportunities in the Friday morning semi final game against Columbus. And, if senior pitcher Kate Street could have pitched without a finger that was split, then maybe the Lady Falcons would have brought home the first place trophy from the State B/C Softball tournament. Instead, they came home with a second place trophy.

As interim coach Joe McKay said, "Eighteen other teams would have been happy with that."

But it is somewhat of a bittersweet place for the Lady Falcons who saw their dream of a fourth straight championship fall late Saturday afternoon. Columbus defeated Florence 9-7, in the second championship game to take the crown. Florence won the first championship game in the double elimination tournament, 8-5.

The Lady Falcons have been on an emotional roller coaster for the last two weeks. Head coach Sam Richter had to step aside due to health issues. Assistant coach McKay was named the interim coach for the tournament. He then called upon Mike "Otto" Thill, who resigned last year after 10 years at Florence, to step in as pitching coach.

Florence came out strong on the first day, downing Shepherd, 8-3, and then topping Cut Bank, 9-2. That set up the semi final game against Columbus on Friday morning. The two teams battled but Florence made a couple of mental errors in the third inning which opened the door for Columbus. The Renegades went on to defeat Florence, 3-1.

The loss didn’t set very well with Florence and they sent Noxon packing with a 13-3 pounding in five innings. Saturday morning, Florence took on Huntley Project. Florence hitters, Street, Shelby Meuchel and Lynleigh Nichols each had a double in the 6-2 victory. Next up on the road back to the championship game was Glasgow. Florence came from behind in the fifth inning to tie the game and then move on with a 4-2 victory.

Then it was the first championship game. By now, Street’s finger was split into a 90 degree angle and required attention throughout the game. But the gutsy pitcher struck out 11 batters. Erin Greenberg, who batted .429 throughout the tournament, had a couple of singles and an RBI and Kayla Schmid was 2-for-3 in the 8-5 victory.

The day was getting long for the Lady Falcons. They began their day at 9 a.m. and the second championship game was scheduled at 3 p.m. Each team scored a run in the first inning. Then Florence broke loose for four runs in the second, and it was looking hopeful for the maroon and gold. However a seemingly unending fifth inning and six errors turned the tables for Florence.

"It was like an inning from... well, you know," said McKay. "We had two outs but just couldn’t make the third out. It was like a contagious disease. We made six errors."

When the damage was done, Columbus had scored eight runs, and Florence had run out of steam. Street, who batted .580 for the tournament had three RBIs and hit two doubles, scoring five of the runs. Schmid added two RBIs and Chelsea Ralls and Greenberg each had one.

The players were worn out by the end of the game, according to McKay. "Give Columbus credit. They played hard and they maybe had more talent than we did but we had more heart. I don’t think I’d have been any prouder of them (the Lady Falcons) if we’d won. We were completely worn out. We just couldn’t hold Columbus in the second game."

Florence finished their season with a 21-7 record.

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Local athletes do well at state

The eyes of track and field fans were on the tracks and fields at Butte and Missoula this weekend at the state meets. The Class AA and B meet was in Butte while Class A and C were in Missoula at Big Sky. The Bitterroot Valley’s schools were well represented and all the athletes did well. Corvallis, Florence and Hamilton each had individual champions.

The Corvallis girls brought home a trophy for the first time in more than 20 years, finishing third in the Class A. The Blue Devils finished with 55 points. Belgrade won the team scoring with 78 points, followed by Whitefish with 61 points. Hamilton finished in fourth place with 41 points.

Corvallis’ Ashlee DellaSilva flew down the track in the anchor leg of the 400 relay, to claim first place. Joining her on the podium were Sammy Berner, Whitney Henderson and Clarissa Boyer. Their time of 49.57 was .22 of a second faster than Whitefish’s second place. Hamilton finished third with a time of 50.68. The Bronc team was comprised of Misha Trotter, Michelle Jones, Alecia Toews and Ali Mildenberger.

DellaSilva won the 100 meter race with a time of 12.56. Henderson came in fifth with 13.08. It was DellaSilva and Henderson again in the 200, finishing third and fourth with times of 26.13 and 26.44 respectively. Brekka Johnson of Stevensville came in sixth with a time of 26.51. Ferda of Whitefish won with 25.72.

Henderson finished second in the 400 with a time of 58.09. Trotter of Hamilton was sixth with 59.59. Hoblitt of Belgrade won the event with 57.84. Corvallis’ 1,600 relay team finished second with a time of 4.02.35. Hamilton was fourth with 4:06.49. Polson won with a time of 4:01.43.

In other events, Corvallis’ Paige Lennis finished sixth in the discus with a throw of 114-1. She was fifth in the shot put with a put of 35-6 . Hamilton’s Jess Hill finished second in the shot put with a throw of 37-1. Britney Harvey of Belgrade won the event with 38-5. Melissa Cousins of Corvallis finished sixth in the pole vault with an effort 9-6.

Hamilton’s speedy freshman, Misha Trotter, ran the 800 like a 400 meter race. She came out of the blocks strong and left everyone behind on the second lap. She clocked a 2:18.03, three seconds faster than second place. Teammate Michelle Jones was sixth with a time of 2:23.70. Trotter was third in the 1,600 with a time of 5:21.74. Nacona Frame of Glendive clocked a 5:19.87 to win that event.

In the jumping events, Alecia Toews of Hamilton took sixth in the long jump with 16-0-1/4. Jenn Hartman of Miles City won with 16-11-1/2. Toews was fourth in the triple jump with 34-7-1/2. Brekka Johnson of Stevensville took second with 35-5-1/2. Amber Lampman of Columbia Falls was first with 35-8-1/2.

The Corvallis boys track team is looking strong for the next few years. Corvallis finished with 17 points which was in the middle of the Class A schools competing. Libby claimed the team championship. Sophomore Dalton Sybrant threw the shot put 50-6-3/4 to take second in that event. Chris Jessop threw the discus 147-11 which was good enough for third place. Ronan’s Alan Skogen won with a toss of 160-9.

In the running events, Slater Powell finished sixth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.81 and sixth in the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.38. Brad Smith from Belgrade won both of those events. The Blue Devil 1,600 relay team finished sixth.

Hamilton followed the Blue Devils in team scoring with 15 points. The Broncs were powered by their relay teams. The 400 relay team finished fourth with a time of 44.56. Columbia Falls won that event with a time of 44.34. Hamilton was fifth in the 1,600 relay with a time of 3:28.58. Laurel crossed the line in 3:25.10, to take the blue ribbon. Ryan Turley, who ran on both relays, finished fifth in the 400 with a time of 50.69. Zach Condon of Laurel was first with 49.74. Nigel Neaves finished third in the 800 with a time of 1:56.03. Condon also won that event with 1:54.09.

Stevensville’s Jesse Potter had a stellar day. The senior took second in the 800 behind Condon with a time of 1:55.49. He was fourth in the 400 with a time of 50.44 and sixth in the 200 with 23.25. Sophomore Isaac Hunter finished sixth in the triple jump with 42-4-1/2. Stevensville finished with 14 points.

Falcon Byran Slingsby brought home gold in the shot put, the event the Florence senior dominated all season. Slingsby threw 52-2-1/4, almost two feet farther than Joey Frank of Loyola’s second place put. Slingsby was fourth in the discus with a throw of 144-9. Caller of Ennis won with 148-9. Slingsby joins his brothers, Jacob and Matt, as Class B champions in the shot put.

Danny Lombardo finished third in the long jump with a leap of 20-5-1/2. The 400 relay team took sixth in that race.

Florence sophomore Katie Neimeir won the 100 hurdles with a time of 15.43, three one hundredths faster than second place. She was second in the 300 hurdles behind Jennifer Waller of Huntley Project. The Florence 1600 relay team finished fourth behind Malta, Whitehall and Manhattan Christian. Sarah Schertenleib took fifth in the high jump with a jump of 5 feet.

Darby’s Paul Abrahamsen finished second in the 1,600 with a time of 4:31.13. Zach Coccoli of Choteau won with4:29.08. Abrahamsen finished third in the 3,200 with a time of 10:05.08. Tiger Christina Bender had a leap of 16-3 in the long jump which was good enough for third place. Heather Demorest of Darby finished her first state meet with two sixth place finishes. She finished sixth in the 1,600 with a time of 5:30.99 and sixth in the 3,200 with a time of 12:16.07.

Victor’s Michael Wemple took third in the javelin with a throw of 165-2. Brock Arthun of Shields Valley won with 178-6. Chris Mai overcame injuries to claim fifth in the 1,600 with a time of 4:40.74. He finished second in the 200 with a time of 2:00.24, right behind Ryan Ketterling of Jolliet.

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Third for the Lady Broncs

The Lady Broncs ran up against two very good teams on Saturday morning of the State A Softball tournament and came out on the short end of the bat. Hamilton lost to the eventual champion, Polson, in their final game of the season.

After drawing a first round bye, Hamilton began their quest on Thursday but only saw six innings of play against Columbia Falls before the rains came, again, and the game was called. At the time, the Lady Broncs only needed one more run to end the game on Thursday but couldn’t quite get it done. When play continued Friday morning, Hamilton cruised to a 12-3 victory.

Next up for Hamilton was Libby. Hamilton scored four runs in the second inning and then held of a Logger charge in the fifth inning. Kelly Lokken had three RBIs to pace Hamilton.

With the win over Libby, Hamilton advanced to the undefeated game against Frenchtown. The Frenchtown team was fired up and capitalized on a couple of early Bronc errors. After that, Hamilton had to play catch up.

"It didn’t seem to matter what we threw at them," said coach Steve Weston. "They hit it."

Frenchtown went on to win, 13-6. Rachell Wood and Jessica Huseby each had a home run in the game and each had two RBIs.

Then it was the hometown Polson Pirates. Polson took an early lead but Hamilton battled back and took the lead in the top of the fourth inning. But Polson, like Frenchtown, was hitting everything thrown at them and tied the game up in the bottom of that inning.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth inning, crucial errors turned the game for Hamilton. A passed ball, a dropped pop fly and a late throw put Polson across the bag three times. Although Huseby hit a huge home run in the seventh, the Lady Broncs couldn’t rally and lost, 6-4, finishing third in the state.

"We played really great as a team" said Weston. "But there is a lot of pressure playing in front of this Polson crowd. I feel bad for the seniors because they are the ones that carried us. But, they’ll do real well in life because they are just great competitors."

Corvallis never even got to play on Thursday because of the rain. But they didn’t let it dampen their spirits. The Blue Devils began their tournament play against the always tough Butte Central Marroons. Twelve innings later, when the game was finally done, the upstart Blue Devils had their first win of the tournament, topping Butte Central, 1-0. Megan Auch had a double and Amber Bradshaw had the RBI for the Devils.

"That was one for the ages," said coach Rich Borden. "It was fun."

Corvallis then tackled Frenchtown. It was shaping up as another marathon with neither team scoring for four innings. Pitcher Kasie Conder was tough on the rubber and kept the Broncs from hitting until the fifth inning when Kali Bennet ripped a home run for the only score of the game.

Then it was on to the defending state champions, Laurel, for Corvallis. This time, Corvallis got their bats going and then relied on their defense.

"We’re a team that needs to score early. We struggle if we get behind," said Borden. Corvallis had doubles from Brianna Anderson, Markie Gurley, Megan Auch, and Angie Henderson in the 6-1 victory.

Saturday morning, Corvallis took on Polson with the loser taking fourth place. Polson jumped out to an early lead and Corvallis never got back on track. Polson won, 4-0, giving Corvallis fourth place.

"I’m nothing but proud of these girls," said Borden. "They worked their tails off all season. They’ve gotten better. It’s all about improving."

Corvallis finished their season with a 19-7 record.

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