Dick Gilder is retiring from coaching. This time for the last time.
The search is on at Florence to find a successor for the veteran football coach, who served three stints at the helm and revived the Falcons' fortunes in the 1990s.
"Yeah, I'm retiring, but it's no big deal," Gilder said. "I left a couple of times, and it kind of fell back on my lap. Now it's someone else's turn."
Gilder, who posted a 77-59 record in 17 seasons dating back to 1978, was successful in both the eight-man and 11-man games. He guided Florence to a state Class C runner-up showing in 1980, and to the state Class B semifinals in 1996.
Florence hit its stride in Gilder's final five seasons, making the state playoffs every year and providing a challenge to perennial District 5-B power Frenchtown. Florence snapped Frenchtown's string of five straight district titles in 1996.
Gilder credited the growth and the support of the Florence-Carlton area for the turnaround in the school's football team, as well as the high school's new building complex, which opened a few years ago.
"It included a 1,000-square foot weight room, and that was as big a factor as anything," Gilder said. "The dedication of our players in taking advantage of that facility, it helped us be competitive."
Gilder said he expects Florence will remain among the best teams in the league.
"We have some awful good kids coming up," Gilder said.
Gilder's youngest son, Erik, is nearing the end of a fine all-around high school career and plans to play football at Concordia (Minn.) College. Dick said he wants the chance to watch Erik play, as well as spend more time with his wife, Luanne.
Gilder, 59, said he plans to continue teaching at Florence. He said he's also put in for the job of athletic director. And coaching?
"It would probably be over my wife's dead body," he said with a smile. "But I do have 30 years of experience, and if I can help in any way, I'll be glad to do it."
It's a rare high school athlete, particularly in Missoula, who earns 12 varsity letters. But Missoula Loyola senior Jeff Appelt will graduate with that distinction.
Appelt played four years of varsity football, basketball and golf for the Class B Rams.
The 6-foot-4 Appelt made his biggest mark in basketball, ranking as Loyola's second-leading scorer his junior and senior seasons. He averaged 16.3 points per game and earned all-state honors last winter.
Appelt was a starting tight end in football and has been among the Rams' top golfers this spring.
Appelt and fellow seniors such as Scott Welch and Jamie Jones were part of perhaps the most successful all-around era in school history. Loyola advanced to the state Class B basketball tournament all four years, winning two divisional titles and twice earning the state consolation trophy. In football, the Rams went 20-14 during that span and ended a long state playoff drought in 1996, reaching the state quarterfinals.
Junior varsity soccer could begin this fall at Missoula Sentinel, Missoula Big Sky and Missoula Hellgate - but only if fund raising from the community becomes a reality.
The school board has set the cost of the program at $15,000, which must be raised from sources outside the district. An estimated 90 boys and girls at the three schools would be involved in the program.
The board is considering a $60 participation fee for all soccer players (JV or varsity) to help defray the cost of adding JV teams.
A meeting to discuss the issues of participation and fund raising will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Sentinel Little Theater. Parents interested in JV soccer are urged to attend.
Missoula's three Class AA high schools have offered varsity soccer since 1991.
Shannon Butler is a revered name among Montana distance runners. He was a standout cross country and track runner during his high school days at Eureka, then went on to be an NCAA champion at Montana State.
That's why Casey Jermyn of Plains drew plenty of attention last weekend at the District 6-B track meet. He broke district records in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters that were set by Butler in 1985.
Butler was a senior when he set the marks. Jermyn, who claimed the state Class B cross country championship last fall, is only a sophomore.
"He went after them," said Plains coach John Bauman. "We talked about it before the week began."
"Shannon Butler was a real tough competitor," Bauman added. "We tried to beat him for four years and couldn't do it. To knock off two of his records, you've accomplished something."
Jermyn, one of three brothers who run for the Horsemen, took control early in both races and was never headed. He won the 1,600 in 4:26.84 and the 3,200 in 9:49.82.
"He's running real well," Bauman said. "He just took off, starting last fall in cross country. He's good, and our goal is to get a lot better."
Four Western B-C senior wrestlers were recently honored for winning 100 or more varsity matches in their high school careers.
The four are Rusty Hanson of Arlee, with a career record of 132-29; Randy Borgmann of Thompson Falls, 118-29; Tim Johnston of Superior, 114-28, and Caleb Baudin of Noxon, 103-37.
In addition, Bob Kinney of Superior was named the conference coach of the year.
Coming up: State tournaments are slated in golf and tennis. Golf tournaments will be held at Billings (Class AA), Laural (A) and Anaconda (B-C). Tennis tournaments will be held at Bozeman (AA) and Missoula (B-C). Class A will hold divisional tennis tournaments … In track, its divisional meet week, the last step before state. The Western AA track meet is at Helena; the Western A is at Kalispell; the Western B is at Missoula's Dornblaser Field, and the Western C is at Butte.
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