Class A

When: Tuesday and Wednesday.

Where: Anaconda.

Course: Old Works, par-72, 6,776 from the copper tees and 6,144 from the limestone tees. The boys will play from the copper tees and the girls will use the limestone tees.

Last year: Whitefish captured the boys' title on its home course while the Miles City girls upset Whitefish, snapping the Bulldogs' streak of seven straight titles. Individual medalists were Polson's Jeff Dooley and Laurel's Brianne Wood.

This year: The Whitefish boys have the talent to defend their crown and the girls have the talent to regain it. Either way you look at it, the Bulldogs are loaded.

Robert Sullivan leads the way for the Whitefish boys. He placed eighth at state last year and won the Flat-Fish Invitational last weekend. "Robert Sullivan's playing really solid right now," said Whitefish coach Terry Nelson. "All our boys are playing really well. They take turns being the low shooter of the day. And they all played real well at Old Works when we played it earlier in the season." Dooley, who has nine top-five finishes this season, returns to defend his individual title. Bigfork's Conor Keenan fired a 73 two weeks ago to win the Western A divisional in Ronan, while Columbia Falls teammates Raymond Pittman and Micah Shaffer tied for second. Ty Johnson of Stevensville and Tyson Woods of Hamilton have had solid seasons.

The Whitefish girls return most of their top players, and should again duel Miles City. "They've worked real hard this year and they're playing well right now," Nelson said. Kelsey Jensen, sixth last year, and Melissa Hearn lead the way for Whitefish. Most recently both had top 10 finishes at the Flat-Fish Invitational and tied for the Western A divisional title two weeks ago. In addition, Whitefish's Katie VonLindern, Laura Meek and Anna Lee Moore placed in the top 10 at the divisional tournament. Other western Montana contenders include Margaux Alvarez of Stevensville, and Libby teammates Katie Pfeifer and Brook Kambel.

- Nick Lockridge, Missoulian

Class B

When: Tuesday and Wednesday.

Where: Shelby.

Course: Marias Valley Country Club, par-72, 6,261 yards from the men's tees, 4,902 yards from the women's tees.

Last year: The Fort Benton boys cruised to a 13-stroke win over Roundup at Frenchtown's King Ranch Golf Course. Frenchtown made the best showing from the west, placing fifth. The Plentywood girls had an even easier time, winning by 37 shots over runner-up Columbus.

This year: Frenchtown, Missoula Loyola and Superior look like the best teams from western Montana. "If we are at the top of our games, all of us are capable of being in the top five and possibly trophying," said Frenchtown coach Dan Moe. The Broncs return three seniors, including Nate Nowlen, who tied for seventh. Brent Schwartznau has also had some good performances for Frenchtown. Loyola's Chris Galiher has had a strong season, and the Rams hope Gavin McCourt and Matt Pritchard will step it up a notch. Superior's leader on the hardwood is also its leader on the green. Eric Reiner finished fourth last year.

The girls' favorites are Three Forks, Columbus and Shelby. Columbus returns defending individual champ Jasi Achayra, while Shelby has the home-course advantage and is accustomed to playing in the often windy conditions along the Hi-Line. Western Montana teams aren't expected to challenge for top honors, but Loyola's Callie Monroe and Becky Guest are potential top 10 finishers. Thompson Fall's Victoria Kazmierczak and Seeley-Swan's Lara Parker have also enjoyed strong seasons.

- J.J. Benzak, Missoulian

Class C

When: Tuesday and Wednesday.

Where: Lewistown.

Course: Judith Shadows, par-72, 6,507 yards from the men's tees and 5,273 yards from the women's tees.

Last year: St. Regis won the boys' and girls' team titles in the first year Class C held its own state tournament. Before then Montana held a combined Class B-C tournament.

This year: Defending champion St. Regis is the only western Montana Class C school that fields a full boys' and girls' team. The next closest team is Manhattan Christian which lies 60 miles east of Butte. "It's kind of Manhattan Christian and us against the northeast," said St. Regis coach John Douglas. "But we have a full team of four boys and four girls that have qualified for state." Class B Superior will drop down to the C level next year, giving the west two teams.

The Tigers are younger than last year. St. Regis lost two girls who finished in the top three, including individual medalist Jacque Stevens. Junior Mandy Stevens, Jacque's younger sister, is the lone returner. She placed ninth at Marias Valley in Shelby last year.

The boys lost two golfers that finished in the top four. Senior Seth Patterson was on the championship team of a year ago . He leads an inexperienced team that has never played in Lewistown. "We went out and looked at it," Douglas said on Sunday. "There's a lot of water and a lot of out of bounds." Water hazards of one form or another appear in 13 of the course's 18 holes. Danielle VanEgmond of Manhattan Christian is the leading returnee. She finished second to Stevens in the girls' competition with a two-round total of 187. The Medicine Lake boys could take the title trophy after finishing second last year. Another team to watch is Scobey, which placed third in the girls' tourney last year.

- Nick Lockridge, Missoulian

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