The April showers came to Montana last week - snow showers. And they played havoc with spring sports events around the state.
One of the hardest hit areas was Billings, where the stormy weather led to the cancellation of the Billings Invitational track, tennis and golf tournaments. The Magic City was blanketed by several inches of snow on Friday, and although much of it had melted by Saturday, the weather was too cold and wet to allow for outdoor events.
The two-day tennis tournament was slated to be the first major competition of the year for many teams in the eastern part of the state.
Great Falls was also hard hit by the storm. The Great Falls Relays, scheduled for Friday, were canceled.
Numerous softball games were also canceled or postponed.
Maybe the Montana High School Association should consider adding snowboarding or cross country skiing to its spring sports offerings.
The MHSA Board of Control concludes a two-day meeting in Helena on Tuesday. One of the items on the agenda is determining state tournaments for the 2001-2002 school year.
However, the board is expected to postpone awarding state basketball or volleyball tournaments until the seasons issue is resolved or a timeline has been determined for a final judgment. The state Human Rights Bureau heard arguments last week on the issue of switching the girls' basketball and volleyball seasons to conform to the national norm.
A ruling is expected sometime in the next three months. However, litigation is still possible no matter what the outcome.
The odds of Polson taking home another state track trophy grew longer last week when the Pirates learned that Jarrod Wilkinson, perhaps their best sprinter, will miss the remainder of the season because of foot and ankle problems. Wilkinson had competed only sparingly this spring, but figured to be a strong contributor in the sprints and relays for Polson, which was third at state last year.
A number of notable athletes missed the Missoula Invitational track meet last Saturday because of injury, illness or other commitments, such as district music competitions.
Missoula Big Sky's Rob Curran, the Class AA leader in the 400, had to sit out the meet because of an injured hamstring. And illness sidelined Kalispell distance ace Amber Arvidson, costing her a shot at winning the girls' 3,200 for the third straight year.
Sophomore basketball standout Haley Bradley of Florence has been invited to compete in the USA Junior Nationals Championship Sports Festival, July 10-16 at Madison, Wis. Bradley is among athletes who advanced from 37 one-day competitions throughout the country.
Junior Amanda Emslie of Bigfork was a member of the Montana team that posted a 7-0 record and won the BCI Spring Tip-Off tournament, held recently in Phoenix. Three Montana players - Sami Walking Bear of Phoenix, Laura Kipp of Browning and Katie Edwards of Denton - were named to the all-tournament team.
The Youth Soccer Letter, a supplement to Soccer America magazine, features the Flathead Force in its March 20 issue.
The Force, coached by Tim Guenzler and Mike Stebbins, is composed of U-16 and U-17 club players from Kalispell, Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Helena, Great Falls, Bozeman and Billings.
The article highlights the team's championship at the 1999 Patriots Day Cup in Phoenix, a fifth-place showing at the 1999 Nomads Showcase Tournament in San Diego, and a second-place showing at the Les Bois Tournament in Boise, Idaho. The team posted a 28-12-2 record last season, including shutouts over state champs from Idaho, Oregon and Kansas.
"They're just good kids," Stebbins said in the article. "We have worked out individual physical training and technical programs for them to do on their own, or with a training partner. Some can work out with other age groups in their hometowns, but some can't. Maybe they go all out because they know their time together is so concentrated."
The roster included several players who earned all-state honors during the high school season last fall. They included Nick Pertuit of state champ Billings Senior, Mike Herzog of Kalispell, and Joe Livers of Helena Capital. Other team members from the region included Chris Daley, Cody Fierro, Julius Macker, A.J. Nash, Jonathan Stebbins, Charles Wettach and Austin Woods of Kalispell; Matt Cuffe and Nathan Siegler of Columbia Falls, and Tyler Woodham of Whitefish.
Coming up: In track, the Class AA girls teams gather in Great Falls Friday for the Great Falls Invitational. The boys head to Butte Saturday for the Swede Dahlberg meet. Sentinel holds a quadrangular meet Tuesday, which will also include Hellgate, Frenchtown and Loyola. The Seeley-Swan Invitational is Saturday at Big Sky. … Sentinel is at Hellgate for a cross-town tennis match on Tuesday. … Big Sky plays Hellgate at McCormick Park in cross-town softball on Thursday. Hellgate plays host to Kalispell on Tuesday, and Sentinel plays host to Kalispell on Thursday. … Golf teams head to Helena this weekend for the Helena Invitational.