A look back at 2017

By: 
Doreen Heintz
Sports Editor

Fergus Coach Scott Sparks (right) gives some last minute instructions to Luke Derheim. Derheim played in his first varsity contest on “senior night” at the FHS Fieldhouse.                        Photo by Doreen Heintz

High school sports keep student-athletes busy

High school sports play an important role in the schools around Central Montana. Here is a look at the winter and spring sports seasons in 2017.

Derheim shines on the court
One of the “feel-good” sports stories of the year was Fergus senior Luke Derheim getting in the last 20 seconds of the Golden Eagles boys’ basketball game against Havre.
Derheim was a manager for the Fergus boys’ team, but during senior night, Coach Scott Sparks let Derheim dress for the final home game against Havre. Derheim loves sports and Fergus High School, but a problem with protein digestion known as PKU kept him from growing as much as other young men his age.
Derheim’s story reads, “The next 20 seconds were a tremendous example of what sports are all about. Havre scored, and Luke took the ball out-of-bounds, passed it to one of his teammates and headed up the court. The Blue Ponies were applying full-court pressure on defense, but forgot to cover Luke as he sprinted toward the basket. Three quick passes and suddenly the ball was in Luke’s hands. A couple of quick dribbles and up went Luke for a layup.
“The crowd seemed to hold their breath to see if the ball would go through the basket. After circling the rim one time, the bell fell through the net. The whole Fieldhouse crowd erupted.”

Five Fergus wrestlers place at state
Fergus juniors Caleb Birdwell and Wyatt Blythe earned Eastern A divisional championships in wrestling. It was the first time the Eastern and Central A  conferences combined to hold a super-divisional meet prior to the Class A state meet. The Eastern-Central A Superdivisional was held in Glendive.
Birdwell’s championship came at 132 pounds and was his first divisional championship. Blythe won his second divisional championship, this time at 170 pounds.
Other Fergus wrestlers who qualified for the state meet were Brady Boyce, Alex Wickens, Duane Otto II, Tanner Mannin and Chase Farrar. As a team, the Golden Eagles finished in seventh place.
At the state meet, five of Fergus’s seven competitors placed. Birdwell was the highest finisher for the Golden Eagles, taking second at 132 pounds. Wickens finished fourth at 160 pounds, while Blythe, Mannin and Boyce finished sixth in their weight classes. Mannin competed in the 120-pound weight class, while Otto competed at 138 pounds, and Boyce at 205 pounds. As a team, the Golden Eagles finished 12th.

Fergus girls’ basketball team finishes season with Coach Elliott
It was a tough season for the Fergus girls’ basketball team. After competing at the state tournament for the past two seasons, the Golden Eagles had high hopes for the 2016-2017 season.
The Fergus girls ended the regular season with a 2-6 conference mark and were 7-11 overall. On Thursday, Feb. 16, Fergus Head Coach Deena Wier resigned her position. According to a press release by FHS Athletic Director Jim Daniels, the resignation was effective immediately.
High School Principal Jeff Elliott assumed the head coaching responsibilities. Elliott coached the girls during their final two regular season games and also during the Eastern A Divisional Tournament.
The Golden Eagles faced Sidney in a play-in game at the divisional tournament, which was played at the Metra in Billings. Fergus came back from a 15-point deficit against the Sidney Eagles to earn a 56-53 win, but the Golden Eagles bid for another state tournament fell short when they lost to Dawson County, 38-32, and then to Browning, 51-38, at the divisional tournament.
At the end of the season, FHS junior Hanna Hayes was one of five girls named to the Central A All-Conference first team.

Fergus boys’ basketball team ends season with winning record
The Fergus boys’ basketball team finished regular season play with an overall winning record of 11-7. The Golden Eagles were 4-4 in conference play and headed into the Eastern A Divisional Tournament as the third seed out of the Central A Conference. It was a big improvement for the team. The prior year,  the Golden Eagles did not even play in the Divisional Tournament at the Metra in Billings because they lost to Browning in a playoff game to get into the tournament.
In their first game at the Metra, the Golden Eagles upset the second seed from the Eastern Conference Hardin, 48-46. That moved Fergus into a semi-final game against Central rival Belgrade. The Panthers defeated Fergus by a score of 58-44.
Fergus then faced Billings Central in a Saturday morning contest. The winner of the game would move on to the consolation game on Saturday, while the season would end for the loser of the contest. More importantly, the winner of the Fergus-Billings Central contest qualified for the Class A State Tournament in Butte. Fergus and Billings Central were tied, 39-39, at the end of regulation play. Billings Central’s experience came through in the overtime period to take a 56-47 win. The Rams went on to finish third at the Eastern A Divisional Tournament and then took second at the Class A State Tournament.
Although the season may have ended one tournament short of what the Golden Eagles would have liked, it was still a very successful one for the team.
“A taste of the state tournament would have been nice,” said Fergus Coach Scott Sparks, “but it doesn’t take away from the season we had. We doubled our win total from a year ago. We went from not making the tournament to being so close to the state tournament.”
Sophomore Jaden Graham received first team all-conference and all-state honors at the end of the season, while Tanner Trafton earned second team all-conference honors.

Belt continues domination of district basketball
Lewistown hosted the District 8C Boys’ and girls’ basketball tournament in 2017.  It was the second time, Lewistown has hosted the tournament since District 7C and 8C combined to form 8C.
For the third consecutive year in the revamped 8C, the Belt teams dominated the tournament to take first place. The Belt team defeated Centerville, 67-29, in the boys’ championship, while the Belt girls won over Roy-Winifred, 57-31, to capture the championship.
Besides those four teams, the Denton-Geyser-Stanford boys and the Winnett-Grass Range girls qualified for the Northern C Divisional Tournament by placing third at the district tournament.
At the divisional tournament held in Great Falls at the Four Seasons Arena, Roy-Winifred and Belt met in the divisional championship contest. The Lady Outlaws defeated Fort Benton and Winnett-Grass Range to advance to the divisional title contest. Belt earned wins over Cascade and Box Elder to meet Roy-Winifred. For the seventh consecutive year, the Lady Huskies brought home the Northern C Divisional championship trophy by posting a 47-29 win over Roy-Winifred.
The DGS boys lost both of their contests at the Northern C Divisional Tournament.
By placing second at the Northern C Divisional Tournament, Roy-Winifred earned a berth at the Girls’ Class C State Tournament in Belgrade. In their first game at state, the Lady Outlaws defeated Savage, the number one seed from the eastern division, 54-48.
The win moved the Lady Outlaws into a semi-final contest against Arlee. In a hard-fought battle, Arlee came away with a 44-38 win. The loss moved the Lady Outlaws into a Saturday morning loser-out contest against Froid-Medicine Lake. Despite their very best effort, the Lady Outlaws fell, 42-46, to the Redhawks.
Roy-Winifred ended its season with an impressive 20-7 win-loss record. Four of those losses came at the hand of state champion Belt.
DGS senior Sean Bronec and junior Rhet Woodhall earned all-conference honors at the end of the basketball season. Also named to the first team all-conference team was Winnett-Grass Range’s Cameron Wollman.
Roy-Winifred’s Lorianne Stulc and Tri-City’s Kristen Vincent were named to the first team girls’ all-conference squad.

Fergus softball enjoys another competitive year
The Fergus fast-pitch softball team had another successful season on the diamond. The Golden Eagles finished second in the conference standings. In their first game at the Central A Divisional Tournament in Livingston, Fergus defeated Havre, 11-1. Belgrade was too much for the Eagles in the semi-final game. The Lady Panthers advanced to the championship contest with a 24-2 win. Fergus faced Havre again and defeated the Blue Ponies, 14-4. The win over Havre in the second contest vaulted the Eagles into the championship match against Belgrade. Fergus had to settle for second place at the divisional tournament after the Eagles were defeated by the Lady Panthers, 10-0.
In the their first game at the Class A State Tournament in Sidney, the Eagles fell to Polson, a strong team from the west, 9-1. Fergus came back to defeat Butte Central, 9-4. Fergus then defeated Miles City, 5-2. In their final game at the state tournament, Fergus fell to Frenchtown, 1-8.
“I’m proud of these girls as they battled through the ups and downs every season brings,” said Coach Mike Mangold. “We played a lot of exciting games this season, and the girls would toughen up as the games were on the line. Of our 11 losses, eight of them were to the top four teams in the state. They again showed we were one of the better teams in the state, finishing in the top six.”
The Eagles were led during the season by seniors Mikalya Comes, Carley Carpenter, Elizabeth Craven, Dani Gapay and Ade Lensing.

Seven Fergus tennis players compete at state
Three singles’ players and two doubles’ teams from Fergus competed at the Class A State Tennis championships in Kalispell. The seven Golden Eagles earned their trips to the state meet by finishing in the top four of either singles or doubles play for boys and girls.
Fergus’s Taylor Woods was a divisional champion in girls’ singles. Lissy Southworth also qualified for girls state singles. In doubles’ play Abigail Gatz and Alexia Arndt finished fourth at the divisional meet.
The Fergus girls’ team took second with 32 points, just three points behind divisional champion Belgrade.
In the divisional boys’ competition, Danyon Rice finished third for the Golden Eagles.
Completing the Fergus state team is the boys’ doubles team of Tanner Mannin and Nate Kindzerski. The twosome finished fourth at the divisional level.
As a team the Fergus boys finished fourth with 20 points.
At the state meet held in Kalispell, Rice was the only Golden Eagle individual to win a match. After losing his first match at state, Rice came back to win his next two matches.
The doubles’ team of Gatz and Arndt lost their opening round match, but came back to win their next match before being eliminated by a doubles’ team from Belgrade.

Haiden Collins has strong year for Fergus track and field
Although injuries hampered Haiden Collins for a portion of the track and field season, he overcame those injuries to score well at the Class A State Track and Field Meet in Laurel. Collins won both hurdles races at state and helped the 4 X 400-meter relay team finish third. At the Eastern A Divisional Meet held in Belgrade, the weekend preceding the state meet, Collins won both hurdles races and placed fifth in the 100 and sixth in the 200.
At the divisional meet, Drake Henson set a new school record in the 800-meter run. His time of 1:57.03, broke Logan Mossey’s old record of 1:57.3, which was set in 2008. Henson finished third in both the 800 and 1600 at the divisional meet. At state, Henson lowered his new record to 1:56.68 and finished third.
Kai Krumweide with a fifth-place finish in the 3,200 also placed at the state meet. The 4 X 400-meter relay team of Collins, Tanner Trafton, Henson and Noah Majerus finished third at state.

Zimmer leads Fergus girls
Sophomore Anna Zimmer placed second in the shot put at the state meet in Laurel. She put the shot 40 feet, ¼ inch at state. Zimmer also excelled in the discus and javelin. At the divisional meet in Belgrade, Zimmer placed sixth in the javelin.
Marissa James was another strong athlete for the girls’ team. At the divisional competition, James won the 100-meter hurdles and placed second in the high jump. James’ 5-4 high jump was a personal best for the junior. At the state meet James finished third in both the 100 hurdles and the high jump.
Ashley Brand also had a strong divisional meet. Brand placed second in the triple jump, third in the long jump and sixth in the 100 hurdles. Although Brand did not place in the top six at the state meet, she finished 10th in the triple jump and ninth in the hurdles.
Senior Sheanna Larson placed second in the javelin at the divisional meet.

Winnett-Grass Range girls finish second at district track meet
Winnett-Grass Range freshman Zoe Delaney tore up the track in her first year of high school. Delaney was a consistent winner in the sprints throughout the spring. At the District 8C Meet held in Great Falls, Delaney won the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes. She also ran on both the 400-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams that placed first. Overall, the Lady Rams won nine of the 17 events at the district meet to almost upset Belt for the team championship. The Belt girls won the meet with 138 points. Winnett-Grass Range finished second with 134 points. Other Lady Rams winning individual events were Kita Weingart in the 1,600 and 3,200; Jacy Nunn in the long jump; and Kendra Murnion in the triple jump. Hobson’s Kristen Vincent took first place in the 800 and the high jump.
On the boys’ side, Denton took third place with 53 points. Belt ran away with the meet, scoring 168 points. Finishing second was Centerville with 69 points. Local individual winners included Denton’s Kordell Carpenter in the 400 and 800, Jacob Jessen of Winnett-Grass Range in the 300 hurdles, Stanford-Geyser’s Carson Norskog in the pole vault and Moore’s Hayden Heilig in the high jump. The Stanford-Geyser 400-meter relay team of Norskog, Rhet Woodhall, Cameron Cali and Keaton Protsman also took first.

Five area athletes earn first place at divisional meet
At the Northern C Divisional meet, held also in Great Falls, five area athletes earned first-place wins: Delaney won the girls’ 400-meter run, Vincent won the girls’ high jump, Carpenter won the 800, Woodhall won the 300 hurdles and Norskog won the pole vault.
The girls’ team title was won by Fort Benton, while the boys’ team title went to Belt.

State placers
Several of the Class C area track athletes placed at the state meet. Delaney had an exceptional state meet. She won the 200 and was second in both the 100 and 400. Carpenter was fifth in the 800 and sixth in the 1600. Jessen finished fifth in the 1600. Woodhall brought home a sixth-place medal in the 300 hurdles. Norskog finished fifth in the pole vault. Heilig was sixth in the high jump.

In Wednesday’s News-Argus, we will look back at the fall sports season for the area schools.

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