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About Missoulian
Michael Heinbach is the Missoulian prep sports editor. He's covered Missoula area high school athletics since the spring of 2000 for the Missoulian and remains a staunch supporter of the Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Indians and The Ohio State University. Michael Heinbach an be reached at 523-5209, at or via Twitter at @MichaelHeinbach.

An open letter to area high school students


of the Missoulian

For me, covering Missoula crosstown prep athletic competitions is usually a blast.

In general, that’s when I get to see the best of the students, when they show devout pride in their school in loudly cheering their team toward victory.

But Tuesday night at Sentinel gym, I left disheartened after witnessing an ugly display at the volleyball match between Missoula Hellgate and Missoula Sentinel.

The student sections in support of both schools were packed with kids at their most vocal, and most everyone in attendance wore pink in support of breast cancer awareness, which of course I fully endorse.

But the cheering quickly turned toward heckling the opposing student body before it got downright disgusting.
It began lightheartedly, with the Sentinel kids chanting across the court at the Hellgate section, “Let’s play football,” in a not-so-gentile reminder that the Spartans edged Hellgate 15-12 on the gridiron back on Aug. 31.

But things only went south from there and soon the taunting went well past an R rating. Somehow it slipped by Sentinel administrators in attendance, but the Spartan section started a chant that I won’t repeat, but had to do with their side having more sex than the opposition.

Much to my surprise, the Hellgate section responded with a chant that referred to the Sentinel kids with a homosexual slur, which in turn forced Hellgate activities director Lynn Farmer to remove her school’s entire student section aside from the girls who played for the Knights’ junior varsity, sophomore and freshman volleyball teams.
As a result, the Hellgate cheerleaders were left to cheer to a small handful of kids and several Sentinel boys went charging outside to the parking lot, presumably to confront the Hellgate kids who were forced to leave.

This is not what prep athletics are all about. First of all, never ever under any circumstances is it acceptable to use a slur, especially when it deals with sexual preference.

Events like a crosstown volleyball match exist to promote unity among fellow students, united in support of their team. And sporting events are certainly not a forum to belittle the opposition on the field of play or in the stands.

I had hoped that this generation if kids, raised in the most politically-correct era in history, understood that.

I know how rivalries can get heated and that things can be said before rational thought stifles the impulse. But please, in the future, use these games to boost your own school spirit. Don’t tarnish the efforts of the athletes on the field of play by making it a negative experience for all involved.

As a journalist, I know the power a few simple words can have. Please don’t abuse that power, keep it clean and try your best to keep it positive.

A win that meant more than most

Missoula Hellgate’s Jace Buche leaps over Great Falls receiver Dylan Tatarka to intercept a pass in the first half Friday afternoon at Missoula County Stadium. Kurt Wilson/Missoulian


of the Missoulian

The glory and the headlines are generally reserved for successful teams and standout players in the Missoulian sports section.
And though the scoreline and the statistics sheet didn’t exactly paint the most glorious of pictures, I was thrilled to witness Missoula Hellgate’s first football victory of the season last Friday at Missoula County Stadium.
Yes, it was a 6-0 victory over a one-win Great Falls High team playing without its opening-day starting quarterback in a contest that saw its lone score come late in the fourth quarter. But a win is a win and it wasn’t a stretch to regard it as well-deserved Hellgate victory.
Think of it this way: Though success on the gridiron has been a struggle at Hellgate in recent memory, don’t believe for a minute the Knights and their coaching staff aren’t working just as hard or harder than every other high school football team in the state.
Those who’ve played for a team like the Knights know how difficult it can be to be at your best for practice when your team seems overmatched every week. The bumps and bruises that come with a high school football season hurt just a little more and the load in the weight room seems twice as heavy when you start the season 0-6.
But that hasn’t stopped the Hellgate football team from repeatedly putting its best foot forward. Each week when I talk to Hellgate head coach R.L. Boyles in preparation for the week’s contest, he’s quick to point out how his Knights get a little better every week, how hard they practice and how the effort is always there.
That’s why it was so much fun watching Hellgate as it refused to fold up shop when starting running back Dain Cowan was relegated to the bench in the second quarter with a shoulder injury against the Bison.
In his place stepped sophomore John Dalpiaz, who not only scored the only points of the game on a 1-yard touchdown plunge with 5:48 to play, he iced the victory when he ripped off a 30-yard scamper in the waning moments which allowed the Knights to run out the clock.
When it was over, I spoke with Dalpiaz and senior quarterback Luke Bewley, both of whom were overjoyed with the result. Both credited the Hellgate offensive line and the entire defense for the win, rather than pounding their chests and trying to get their own names in the paper.
In addition, Boyles couldn’t stop talking about how happy he was for the kids on the team, how bad they wanted that win and how much they deserved it.
I ran into Boyles on the street Monday morning and without prompting, he stopped me, took the time to thank me for keeping things as positive as possible in the newspaper and for supporting the hard work his kids have put in.
His simple gesture of taking two minutes to let me know he appreciates what I do made my day.
It reminded me that fighting through struggles the way the Hellgate football team has all season will only make the young men on the team stronger in the long run.
There won’t be new hardware in the school’s trophy case when the football season ends. But as a group, the Knights will have accomplished a feat much greater than anything that can be found by in looking at the Class AA standings.
Though it might not be as immediately rewarding as reaching the playoffs, the Knights are putting a truly noble effort into playing for nothing more than the pride that results in doing their best every week, regardless of what the scoreboard says.
And though it rarely ever is, that kind of determination should always be applauded.

Local high schools earn Academic Excellence awards

The Montana High School Association recently named the 2011-2012 winners of its NorthWestern Energy Academic Excellence awards, and two local schools won for their respective classifications.

Missoula Hellgate, for Class AA, and Florence, for Class B, had the highest combined grade-point averages among its student-athletes. The other winners were Billings Central (Class A) and Chester-Joplin-Inverness (Class C).

Hellgate, which had a total enrollment of 1,293 students last spring, compiled a 3.562 GPA among its 256 participants in athletics. Missoula Big Sky was second in the AA pool, compiling a 3.403 GPA between 293 athletes.

Florence posted the highest combined athlete GPA of any school in the awards competition. Florence, which had an enrollment of 252, received a combined GPA of 3.727 among its 74 participants. Class C winner C-J-I was next in line with a 3.714 GPA.

Whitefish was runner-up to Billings Central as the Class A GPA winner. The Bulldogs’ athletes combined for a 3.429 GPA, while the Rams tallied a 3.443 GPA.


Athletes of the Week: April 24-30


Missoula Hellgate distance runner Adam Peterman had a big week recently, winning the 3,200 meters at the Russ Pilcher Western Montana Top 10 meet at Missoula County Stadium. The junior won the event in 9:37.77, which is the third best time in the state behind the two crazy-nasty marks set by Kalispell phenom’s Zach Perrin and Troy Fraley at the Arcadia Invite. Peterman also won the 5k at the 40th Riverbank Run on Saturday in downtown Missoula.


Missoula Big Sky catcher Jesse Schafer clubbed a walk-off three-run home run to beat crosstown rival Hellgate 6-4 at McEnaney Field last Tuesday (April 24). It was the first game-winning home run of Schafer’s high school career.

Athletes of the Week: April 17-23


Darby distance runner Doug Raymer “tripled” at the Jim Johnson Invitational in Missoula last Saturday (April 21). The senior, who is headed to UM next fall, won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs at the small-school meet on Dornblaser’s track. Raymer’s time in the 1,600 (4 minutes, 35.45 seconds) ranks him second in the state among all boys.



Bigfork freshman Makena Morley swept the 800 and 1,600 runs at the Seeley-Swan Invitational last weekend in Missoula. Morley, the Class B state champ in cross country, clocked a time of 5:01.30, which is the second-fastest metric mile turned in by a girl, regardless of classification, yet this spring.


Athletes of the Week: April 10-16


Kalispell Flathead junior Zach Perrin won the 1,600 at the Missoula Invitational last week in a state-best time of 4:24.36. He also helped the Braves win the 400 relay last Saturday on their way to a boys’ team title. This came exactly one week after Perrin ran the fastest 3,200 meters ever (8:55.24) by a Montana prep athlete at the Arcadia Invitational in California.


Loyola Sacred Heart senior Maggie Crippen won three straight golf tournaments, including two last week and one on Monday (April 16). Crippen won the Bigfork Invite last Thursday (April 12) followed by the Plains Invite on Saturday, when she carded a 76. Cripped capped off her amazing five-day run with a win at the Manhattan Invitational two days later. Crippen and Columbus’ Morgan Scott tied for the girls’ lead at 79, but Crippen won a chip-off for the title.


Knight River Run results

Results are in for the Knight River Run 5k and surprise, surprise, a Knight won it.

Missoula Hellgate junior Adam Peterman covered the 3.1-mile course in 16 minutes even, according to the results found on, while Phil Keller came in second at 16:10.

The Knight River Run is a fundraiser to help defray the costs of re-surfacing the dirt track at John Toole Park, also commonly called “the River Bowl,” which is jointly-owned by the city and the Missoula School District.

I wrote about this race last week, and then went out and ran in it. Spoiler alert: I just missed finishing in the top 25, losing to the entire Ruby household in the process.


Come support funding efforts for the new community track at the Knight River Run

OK, Missoula, here’s your chance. You call yourself a running community.
Time to prove it.
The first of several fundraising efforts to get an all-weather surface to replace the dirt track that surrounds the River Bowl at John Toole Park is set for Friday (March 23) at night.
It’s called the Knight River Run 5k.
The race begins at 8 p.m. and there’s still time to sign up.
Just go down to the Runner’s Edge today or email Missoula Hellgate track coach Alan Pfister at or just show up a couple of minutes before the  start.
Believe me, it’s a worthwhile cause – and I’m not just saying that as a Hellgate alum.
All the proceeds go toward the installation of a new six-lane rubberized track surface on the land jointly owned by the city and the Missoula School District.
The practice facility has been the home of Hellgate athletics for years and years.
But, it’s never been used for track purposes. So this upgrade will help change all that.
And once the track is layed down, it’ll be open to the public – not during Hellgate’s practice hours, though – so it truly does benefit the community.
Cost to run Friday night is $25.
Who knows, maybe you’ll even see this guy out there.

– Nick Lockridge

Players of the Week: Feb. 21-25

Boys’ basketball

Kalispell Glacier junior Ryan Edwards nearly recorded a triple-double in Tuesday’s 56-52 victory over Missoula Hellgate. He had 19 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks in the Western AA win. The 6-foot-11 Edwards added 11 points and 20 rebounds in Saturday’s regular-season finale, a 24-point win over rival Flathead that sewed up the conference crown.

My honorable mention: Robert Stone, Deer Lodge, sr.

Who’s your honorable mention? (give player’s name, school and reason why in comments section below).

Girls’ basketball

Missoula Big Sky senior Elle Tinkle had a pair of stellar games back-to-back Friday and Saturday. The future Gonzaga player had 26 points and 16 rebounds in a win over Helena Capital, then capped off the regular season with a 16-point effort in a 41-38 victory over No. 2-ranked Helena High.

My honorable mention: Kiernan Haggarty, Loyola Sacred Heart, sr.

Who’s your honorable mention? (give player’s name, school and reason why in comments section below).

Youth wrestling results from Western Montana Melee

Western Montana Melee
At Big Sky High School
Saturday, Feb. 25

Pee-Wee – 35
1 – Aidan Delude of East Helena Wrestling Club; 2 – Damen Furthmyre of Lil Copperheads; 3 – Gage Hartnell of Northern Montana Wrestling Club; 4 – Jacoby Baughman of Silver Bow Amateur Wrestling
Pee-Wee – 40
1 – Walker DesRoiser of Helena Wrestling Club; 2 – Jordan Sprague of Butte Wrestling; 3 – Tyler Fuschino of Eagle Wrestling Club; 4 – Eryn Evenson of Bozeman Mat Dogs; 5 – Trenton Hoveland of USA Cobra Montana Wrestling Club.
Pee-Wee – 45A
1 – Trey Hansen of Butte Wrestling; 2 – Bradley Wolfe of Lil Copperheads; 3 – Wyatt McCorkle of Championship Training; 4 – Matthew Marcille of East Helena Wrestling Club; 5 – Teegan Tybo of East Helena Wrestling Club; 6 – Layne Miller of Eagle Wrestling Club
Pee-Wee – 45B
1 – Colby Gordon of Butte Wrestling; 2 – Ayden Dess of East Helena Wrestling Club; 3 – Tytan Cooney of Eagle Wrestling Club; 4 – Jaiden Richards of Bozeman Mat Dogs; 5 – Zane Gehring of Helena Wrestling Club; 6 – Alex Grover of Lil Copperheads.
Pee-Wee – 45C
1 – Colton Smith of Team Real Life; 2 – Eli Oakland of Northern Montana Wrestling Club; 3 – Kage Smith of Eagle Wrestling Club; 4 – Killian Snarr of East Helena Wrestling Club; 5 – Jordan Richards of Bozeman Mat Dogs; 6 – Ryan Haidle of Eagle Wrestling Club.
Pee-Wee – 50
1 – Maverick Mcewen of Silver Bow Amateur Wrestling; 2 – Cael Mikalatos of Lil Copperheads; 3 – Tanner Collins of Eagle Wrestling Club; 4 – Pete Fuller of Eagle Wrestling Club; 5 – Nick Benson of Helena Wrestling Club; 6 – Liam Oie of Eagle Wrestling Club.
Pee-Wee – 55
1 – Garrett Boyle of East Helena Wrestling Club; 2 – Jake Bailey of Butte Wrestling.
Pee-Wee – 60+
1 – Calijah Larance of Eagle Wrestling Club; 2 – Mason Heard of Helena Wrestling Club
Bantam – 40
1 – Jt Gehring of Helena Wrestling Club; 2 – Colin Mccarthy of Eagle Wrestling Club.
Bantam – 45A
1 – Traic Fainter of Kalispell Wrestling Club; 2 – Caleb Martin of Helena Wrestling Club; 3 – Kahn Schlegel of Helena Wrestling Club; 4 – Nathan Butler of Eagle Wrestling Club; 5 – Kiernan Holbrock-borneman of Lil Copperheads; 6 – Mekhi Barnes of Northern Montana Wrestling Club.
Bantam – 45B
1 – Cooper Anderson of Dillon; 2 – Connor Pennington of Helena Wrestling Club; 3 – Sam D`amico of Eagle Wrestling Club; 4 – Keyan Coate of Helena Wrestling Club; 5 – Kristian Austin of Silver Bow Amateur Wrestling; 6 – Ayden Tafoya of Eagle Wrestling Club.
Bantam – 50A
1 – Francisco Ayala of Team Spartan; 2 – Leo Anderson of East Helena Wrestling Club; 3 – Alexzander Austin of Team Real Life; 4 – Brady Corn of Northern Montana Wrestling Club; 5 – Kamden Broesder of Helena Wrestling Club; 6 – Henry Ballinger of Helena Wrestling Club.

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  • 03 Feb 2015

    UPDATED: 2015 national signing day's western Montana football commits

    UPDATED: With fall camps just around the corner, the list of western Montana natives in the Missoulian's coverage area has swelled near 50. Take a look:
      It’s national signing day 2015 and the National Letters of Intent were flying around this morning with local athletes securing their spots with college football programs. We’ll keep you updated with the area players who have made their commitments known throughout the day. Here’s a quick look at what we have so far. Don’t forget this is just a bare bones list right now and it will be updated often. Don’t see your name or your kid listed here? Leave it in the comments, or get in contact with us at or on twitter (@ajmazzolini).   MONTANA (4) TE Colin Bingham, Missoula Big Sky DE Andrew Harris, Kalispell Glacier S Josh Sandry, Bigfork DE Jesse Sims, Corvallis MONTANA STATE (5) LB Josh Hill, Kalispell Glacier LB Tanner Hoff, Hot Springs WR Logan Jones, Kalispell Glaicer QB Brady McChesney, Kalispell Glacier DE Byron Rollins, Missoula Sentinel EASTERN WASHINGTON (1) TE Jayce Gilder, Corvallis NORTH DAKOTA (1) TE Brock Shaide, Missoula Big Sky CARROLL COLLEGE (1) WR Paul Wilson, Missoula Hellgate MONTANA TECH (9) WR/RB Nate Gray, Hot Springs RB Jackson King, Missoula Sentinel WR/RB Danny Mannix, Flint Creek WR Sam McCamley, Kalispell Glacier WR Ty Morgan, Columbia Falls OL Matt Murphy, Missoula Big Sky OL Truman Pisk, Kalispell Glacier DB Tucker Rauthe, Kalispell Glacier LB Ike Schweikert, Columbia Falls MONTANA WESTERN (12) OL Zach Brown, Hamilton RB/LB Joe Caicedo, Darby WR Devin Cochran, Kalispell Glacier RB Cory Diaz, Missoula Big Sky RB/LB Jason Ferris, Dillon QB/S J.D. Ferris, Dillon WR/DB Justin Ferris, Dillon QB/DB Bo Hughs, Loyola Sacred Heart (transfer) RB/LB Raymond Matt, St. Ignatius LB Connor McKillop, Missoula Sentinel WR/DB Austin Ray, Corvallis OL Spencer Ross, Columbia Falls MONTANA STATE-NORTHERN (6) RB Zach Crace, Libby LB Travis Crawford, Missoula Big Sky FB Lane Foster, Hot Springs DL Trevor Frandsen, Missoula Big Sky MLB Jonathan Gragg, Missoula Hellgate OL Ryan Handley, Missoula Hellgate ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLEGE (3) LB Joe Gallatin, Polson DE Jesse Grabowska, Florence RB Marty Pigeon, Loyola Sacred Heart DICKINSON STATE (1) DB Cain Boschee, Kalispell Glacier LEHIGH (1) OL Harrison Kauffman, Kalispell Glacier MACALESTER COLLEGE (1) WR Jack Streibich, Whitefish
  • 23 May 2014

    Makena Morley gets creative to fund trip to track nationals

    Ever wanted an autographed photo of one of Montana's all-time record-breaking prep runners? Now's your chance. Bigfork High School junior and State B champion of champions Makena Morley is raising money through technology and grass roots to help her reach the New Balance Outdoor High School Track & Field Nationals meet in Greensboro, North Carolina in mid June. And any donors of $25 or more through the fundraising website receive a Morley original complete with signature.  As of this posting, Morley is about 75 percent of the way to her goal of $2,300 for travel and lodging costs for her and her father to the national meet. Events run June 13-15. Morley isn't new to the national running scene, but she appears to be getting create in funding her trips there. She won the West Regional of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships back in December and then finished eighth in the ensuing national race. "As a junior I have been to 4 national championship races (three in cross country and one for indoor track) but I have never won a national title, so this one is very important to me because I would love for this to be the year for me to win," Morley wrote on her fundraising page. "It is an important year for my college recruiting process, because this is the year when all colleges are looking at you and at what you have accomplished!" IndieGoGo is a kind of online kickstarter to raise money for a cause or idea. It's "the world’s most established crowdfunding platform," according to the organization's website. Crowdfunding is the process of pooling money from many different people for a cause. Morley, a three-time winner of the State B cross country title and Gatorade Runner of the Year for Montana, plans to run the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Nationals along with either the one or two mile. For more about her trip to nationals, or to donate, you can visit her page here.

  • 12 Feb 2015

    Entry to Montana wrestling's Four-Timers Club just got tougher

    Winning four straight state wrestling titles is hard enough, but the reclassification of weight classes in Montana that began this year will likely make the feat decidedly more difficult. When the Montana High Schools Association shifted from 15 to 13 wrestling classes, it eliminated the weight at which many four-timers wrestled as freshmen. The 98 and 105 weights were combined -- as were 195 and 220 on the upper end -- to form a new hybrid weight of 103 that will leave fewer holes in brackets and dual lineups. But it also adds new competition for the lightest weight, the one typically housing freshmen, by doubling the participants. "It's going to be interesting with the weight changes," said Columbia Falls wrestling coach Jesse Schaeffer, who has a senior in his wrestling room chasing state title No. 4 this week in Shonn Roberts. "I think that's going to maybe reduce that." Twenty-three Montana wrestlers have completed their four-peats and 11 of those started at 98 pounds of lower -- Gene Davis of Missoula County High, the state's first four-timer, won his freshman year at 95 pounds in 1960 before a similar weight shift later in the decade. Add in Roberts, who will compete at 138 pounds when state action begins Friday in Billings but won at 98 in 2012, and that's exactly half. "It's kind of weird since that's what I wrestled at as a freshman," Roberts began, "but 103, the 98-105 mix, I think that's reasonable. It'll make things a little bit tougher." That's hardly the thinking behind merging weights, though. At either extreme ends of the weight scale (195 and 220 became the 205 class) fewer teams -- especially at lower classifications -- could field a full lineup. Many times, too few entrants there led to a state bracket marred by automatic byes and regular season duals that might as well skip on to 105 pounds anyway. The unintended consequence is that 2015 may be near the last time wrestling fans will get a trio of four-time possibles all on the mats at the same time. Sidney's Gresh Jones joins Roberts in the Class A tournament this week at 126 pounds searching for his fourth, while Forsyth's Matt Weber will be the talk of Class B-C with a potential fourth title. Both boys won their first -- and lightest -- at 112 pounds, though.