It's playoff time in the prep track and tennis world.
District track meets in western Montana start Friday with the District 5-B at Frenchtown.
District 6-B in Kalispell, as well as District 13-C and 14-C at Dornblaser Field in Missoula, are one-day meets on Saturday. The top six finishers in the B meets and the top five in Class C move on to divisionals next week in Missoula.
Western AA tennis divisionals got underway Thursday in Missoula and the Northern AA opens Friday Kalispell. With cooperative weather, championship matches for the former will be Friday afternoon. The Kalispell meet ends on Saturday. Missoula Loyola hosts the Southwest B-C tennis divisional Friday and Saturday at the University Courts in Missoula.
Meanwhile, it's the penultimate weekend of softball's regular season, and Saturday's schedule is jam-packed. Western Montana teams are involved in some two dozen games involving teams from the area. Included are two state championship rematches from a year ago - Polson at Libby in Class A, Frenchtown at Florence in Class B.
District 5-B track: At Frenchtown, the Florence girls look tough and the boys' race looks close. Last year the latter came down to the final race as Deer Lodge edged Missoula Loyola. Those two teams are perhaps the leading contenders, but Florence and Frenchtown will make it interesting. High jumper Abe Madinger of Seeley-Swan and Adam Schiedermayer of Loyola are back to defend district titles.
Florence girls have Kim Heinz and more, which could take them far past the district level. Heinz is a five-event threat, and teammates Annie Gayvert and Destiny Dahlseid are capable of scoring big as well. Loyola is young, but sports defending district champions Lauren Titchbourne, Sarah Stergios and Chesey Flink. Kari Heiple of Deer Lodge leads a strong contingent of Warden vaulters.
The meet starts at 2 p.m. on Friday and 10 on Saturday.
District 6-B track: At Kalispell, the addition of Arlee to 6-B adds spice to the one-day meet on Saturday, which begins at 11 a.m. Thompson Falls swept the boys' and girls' district titles in 2002, and the Bluehawk boys went on to win the state title. There's a chance both will win again, although Eureka could do the same. The Lions' Curtis Bean is defending state champ in shot and discus. Plains boys are tough in the distances led by sophomore Dane Steward.
Thompson Falls girls pack a powerful punch in the throws with Stephanie Bortz and Karen Helvey. Eureka's young band of girls includes hurdlers Stephanie Sanders and Laura Cameron. Troy freshman Elisha Kampfe has long jumped well over 16 feet. Plains senior Marie Errecart won the 100, 200, 400 and 800 at districts last year, then won the 800 at state.
District 13-C track: At Dornblaser, it looks like Victor and Drummond, times two. Everyone will be chasing defending champion Victor in the boys' race. The Pirates' Cory Cromwell is primed to at least duplicate his feats at last year's district meet, when hewon four events and placed second in another. Drummond counters with defending discus champion Mac Anderson and freshman sprinter/jumper Chase Reynolds.
Victor girls also have a premier athlete in sophomore sprinter/jumper Ellie Kauffman. Drummond senior Jessie Mason is a threat to win pole vault and javelin.
Field events start at 9 a.m. and races at 11 a.m. on Saturday for both 13-C and 14-C.
District 14-C track: Also at Dornblaser, Noxon boys and Charlo girls are primed to fill the championship niches left by Arlee when it moved up to Class B. Sprinter Josh Posselt and distance man Jack Ferrell pace Noxon, and Andrew Weber is defending district high jump champ. Superior is strong in the field events with Colin Donovan, Dustin Feasel and Jeff Schultz.
Seniors Dani Finley and Randi Loughlin make the Charlo girls hard to beat in the throws. They shared the three titles at last year's districts, and Finley placed third at state in javelin and pole vault. Noxon can expect a rash of points from Kitty Meredith, the defending high jump champion.
Southwestern B-C tennis: Starting at 9 a.m. at the University of Montana courts in Missoula, Superior, Darby and Missoula Loyola compete for spots in next week's state meet at the same site. The top four singles and top two doubles teams move on. Loyola is the only school in the division with a boys' team, so the Rams will skip divisionals.