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August 28, 2014
Columbia Falls High School


Football squad reloads for another season

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Columbia Falls football team has some big shoes to fill this season, but it also has some young talent ready for the task.

The Wildcats lost running back Zach Darling and all-state quarterback Jared Trinastich to graduation, but it has four excellent running backs looking to fill Darling’s shoes.

Coach Jackson Schweikert said the team is four-deep at running back with Stephen Lindsey, Wyatt Green, Trevor Hoerner and Connor Bowman. Green and Lindsey are “flat out amazing,” Schweikert said, and Bowman and Hoerner are solid power backs.

For the quarterback position, Ike Schweikert and Dakota Bridwell have been taking snaps at practice. Schweikert would like to keep his son on defense this season, where he was the Wildcats’ lead tackler at the middle linebacker position. Bridwell is just a sophomore but is showing great promise as he learns the offensive system, which includes 300 passing plays alone.

“Dakota’s coming along,” Schweikert said. “He’s a smart kid with a really good arm. We’re working on his footwork, and that’s a process and it’s hard work. It’s like jumping rope for two straight hours.”

Schweikert said that by the end of his high school career, Bridwell could be a good college quarterback.

Bridwell has plenty of excellent receivers to throw to, including senior Ty Morgan who had more than 1,000 yards receiving and 16 touchdowns last year as he averaged 16 yards a catch. Schweikert also has been impressed with Trevor Houston, Will Johnson and Braxton Reiten.

“We’ve got four slot receivers that can really play,” he said.

On defense, the Wildcats have a host of returning talent in Ike Schweikert, Justice McManus, Bowman and Colton Gove. They also have returning lineman Spencer Ross, who can stuff the middle.

Schweikert said the ultimate goal is to win a state Class A title, but the focus week in and week out is simply a desire to win, “strength and honor — tempo, toughness and finish.”

Last year, the squad fell just short in the playoffs, losing to Billings Central. Even so, it was the first time since 1976 that the program went undefeated in the regular season.

The culture of the program is definitely changing. Used to be a bad play or a turnover would get the team down for a full quarter, even a half, Schweikert noted. Now a mistake is a mistake and the team moves on.

He noted that last year, the squad opened with a Lewistown pick six against the Cats — they turned it around and won in a blowout.

“We’ve got a lot of good kids out,” he said. “We’re working really hard.”

The Wildcats open play Friday night on the road against Lewistown.

Schweikert is assisted this season by Bill Coleman, Chris Finberg, Brandon Rice, Chad Green, Kelly Houle, Jamie Heinz, Tien Windauer, Bill Sapa and Daniel Lowney.

Wildkat volleyball team is tall and athletic

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 

The Columbia Falls girls volleyball team will look to build on last year’s success, when girls took fourth at the state Class A tournament.

And the Wildkats have the firepower to do it. They have six returning players over 5 feet 10 inches and lost just two seniors, Tiffany Hummer and Haley Belgarde.

Last year, the Kats won the Northwest A crown, beating favored Frenchtown for the divisional title with seven freshmen on the court.

“I’m very excited about this team,” coach Josie Brown said. “We have a lot of depth and a lot of height. They’re a hard-working group of girls, with a lot of intensity and a lot of heart.”

Ten players from last year’s state team are back, including seniors Winter Kemppainen, Ciera Finberg, Shaylene Fishel and Carla Nicosia. Kaity Presnell also joins the squad this year.

There’s also some standout sophomores in Cydney Finberg, Morgan Stenger and Kiara Burlage — all excellent athletes.

The goal for the squad is pretty direct, Brown said.

“Get back to state and win more games,” she said.

The last time the Wildkats won a state title was in 1996. This team definitely has the potential to be in the mix, but they’ll be tested early this season. The Kats open with a home doubleheader against Corvallis and Hamilton on Aug. 30. Corvallis won the state Class A title last year.

In the Northwest A conference, Brown expects Frenchtown to be tough again this season, and Whitefish has some young talent as well. Polson is usually challenging, and Libby has been playing ball all summer, so it should be a competitive conference.

The top two teams in the divisional tourney advance to state.

Wildcat soccer squad is young, inexperienced

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 

The Columbia Falls boys soccer program can go nowhere but up after a disappointing end to their season last year.

“We’ve got good leadership from our core of seniors,” coach Peter Browne said.

Those seniors include Austin Kimmet, Keenan Jessat, Bailey Griffith, Kyle Kelly and Breydon Levinsky.

Last year, the Wildcats went 2-5-1 in conference play and 4-7-1 overall. They still had a shot at a playoff berth but were blanked by Libby 2-0 in the final game.

Columbia Falls also lost some key players. Quentin Foust was expected to be a key part of this year’s team, but he moved. The result a young team again without a whole lot of varsity experience.

“We’ve got a good group of kids,” Browne said. “But we lack experience.”

The team will likely keep four freshmen and have about 16 total on the roster. That makes for a light bench. Browne said the team will need to stay healthy.

One big plus is the team’s goalkeeper, Brandon Karberg.

“He’s very talented,” Browne said.

The team starts play Sept. 5 and 6 on the road against Belgrade and Park respectively.

Kats soccer squad returns 11 juniors

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 

Last year, the Columbia Falls girls soccer team fell just short of winning the Northwest Class A conference by virtue of a tie against Polson. The Wildkats are looking to right that ship this season.

“We want the title back,” coach Greg Trenerry said.

This year’s team has just three seniors — Skye Hatfield, Megan Seliger and Lyndsey Strouse — but it returns 11 juniors. The Kats’ main loss on offense is Haley Purdy — she moved out of state. But they still have a lot of quickness in Kendra King, Tavia Bechtel and Ellie Johnson. Strouse has a solid shot from the midfield.

The girls also have a solid defense, Trenerry said.

“We have our defense back,” he said.

There’s some freshmen talent as well, including Hannah Gedlaman who looked sharp in practice as a forward.

The Kats have 24 players this year, so they could sub out twice completely and still leave a couple on the bench.

Last year’s team went 6-1-1 in conference play and 7-3-3 overall. Their lone conference loss was to Whitefish.

The Kats will be tested by eastern Montana squads once again this season, as their first four games are against Eastern Montana teams.

They open against Belgrade and Park County high schools on Sept. 4-5 and then are home against Laurel and Billings Central on Sept. 12-13.

In the Northwest conference, Whitefish is always tough, and Polson now has a spring club team and should be improved, Trenerry said. This is Trenerry’s 18th year coaching the Kats. He’s assisted by his daughter, Nicolette Bales.

Wildkat harriers looking solid 

Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 

The Columbia Falls girls cross country team should be solid this year as it returns last year’s divisional champion, Samantha Mundel, as well as a host of supporting runners.

Mundel is a senior this season and looking stronger than ever, coach Richard Menicke said.

“She’s been running 50 miles a week,” Menicke said. “She has a chance to do something special this year.”

Mundel is coming off a state Class A title in the 3,200 meters in track last spring. She took ninth at the state cross-country meet last year.

All Wildkats who ran in the state meet last year are returning, Menicke said, including Meredith Stolte, Kendra Cahoon, Haylie Peacock, Miranda Livingston, Allie Folks, Sadie Panasuk and Morgan Christensen.

The team also adds Hanna Freeman, who is a good multi-sport athlete.

“The girls look fantastic,” Menicke said.

On the boys’ side, there’s work to do. The team lost its top runners, James Ratzlaff and Zayne Brunz, to graduation. Returning runners for the Wildcats include Glenn Morden, Storm Kemppainen, Winfield West and Qynn Ingraham. The team also has two freshmen, Gabe Knudsen and Braxton Shewalter.

“We’ve got some good kids who are willing to work hard,” Menicke said.

Menicke has been with the Columbia Falls cross-country program since 1996 and has been the head coach for the past six years.

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