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The smoke took its toll on high school sporting events this past week, forcing cancellations all across western Montana. With a smaller pool of games to choose from, the Week 3 edition of the Missoula area Prep Athlete of the Week has been pared down from five athletes to four girls and boys.

What hasn't changed, however, is the usual talent level displayed to make the cut. 

Each week, we nominate an equal number of boys and girls for our “Prep Athletes of the Week.” Readers will be able to vote for one boy and one girl in polls that appear by noon Monday at Voting will be open through 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The winners will be published in the Missoulian’s Prep Extra section each Thursday.

Here are this week’s nominees:


Stevensville's Angel Richards helped her team win two five-set matches last week. On Thursday, Richards had a team-high 16 kills and three blocks as the Yellowjackets beat Frenchtown, 25-18, 19-25, 24-26, 25-10, 15-7. Richards added another game-leading 13 kills against Columbia Falls on Saturday, as Stevi won in five yet again.

Florence's Sarah Hopcroft led her team with 13 kills, five aces and the Falcons' only block on Saturday against rival Loyola Sacred Heart. The 25-7, 25-12, 25-4 win kept Class B Florence — which scored an upset win against Class A Corvallis on Aug. 31 — undefeated on the young season.

Corvallis' Kate Hurlburt had a block, and held the team lead in digs (13), assists (39) and aces (4) in the Blue Devils' 25-17, 25-19, 25-22 win against Hamilton on Thursday. The all-state setter preceded that stat-filled performance with another 35 assists and the team-lead in aces against Frenchtown on Tuesday. The Devils swept that one, too.

Clark Fork volleyball won three times last week and Kenzie Mueller was a big reason why. Mueller led her team with 16 kills in the Mountain Cats' 25-18, 25-18, 24-26, 25-21 win against Seeley-Swan on Friday. She added another block and 14 kills, both team highs, in Clark Fork's four-set win against Lincoln on Saturday. She provided another team-high block performance in the win against Wallace, Idaho, on Tuesday.


Missoula Sentinel’s Jack Johnston overtook a host of golfers to win the boys’ individual title in Butte on Thursday. He entered the final day of the two-day tournament in fifth place after shooting a 77 on Wednesday at Anaconad's Old Works Golf Course. Johnston shot a 71 on Thursday at Butte Country Club for a winning score of 77-71—148, passing teammate Blake Hasquet, Bozeman’s Jack Thorsen, Butte’s Isaiah Weldon and Glacier’s A.J. Grande.

Branson Becker had a monster game for Valley Christian in the Eagles' 64-44 barn-burner win against Sheridan. Becker finished with 308 yards rushing on 16 carries, and he scored five touchdowns on the ground. He also threw for two scores and added another 20 tackles on defense.

Hamilton quarterback Carson Rostad threw for seven touchdowns in the Broncs' 57-22 win against Browning on Saturday in Hamilton. Rostad spread the ball around, too, as five different receivers caught the seven TD's. Overall, the sophomore signal caller finished 14-for-39 with 282 yards in the air.

Option quarterback Liang Liedle rushed for 104 yards and scored three touchdowns, including one on defense, in Class A No. 3-ranked Corvallis' 37-14 win over visiting Polson. Liedle's pick-six came from 13 yards out and the Blue Devils improved to 3-0 on the season.

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