Spring sports round-up: Big Horn golf one stroke shy of Class C team title
Leydig wins individual golf trophy; Big Sky track and tennis add strong showings at state
By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
The Lone Peak High School spring season was highlighted by the golf team’s trip to state, an opportunity which they rode just one stroke shy of a Class C state title.
Bolstered by a trio of freshmen, the ladies finished in a second-place tie with Broadus High School, just one stroke over state champion Manhattan Christian High School. Head coach Jenny Wilcynski said she’s never seen a two-round tournament finish so tight between three teams at the top. Despite falling short of a team win, freshman Cate Leydig finished atop the Class C leaderboard by three strokes.
Between golf, track and field, tennis and baseball, Big Sky’s spring athletes made the best of the lingering winter and showed improvement and promise, a sentiment echoed to EBS by coaches across all sports.
Leydig said it was a pretty big surprise to win the Class C individual category. Wilcynski said Leydig was shocked when she learned of her win—she shot 90 and 81 between her two rounds, three strokes ahead of Paityn Curtis from Plentywood High School, who shot 88 and 86.
“I come into a tournament with the hope of finishing top five, and I knew there was some pretty stiff competition,” she said. After day one, trailing Curtiss by a couple strokes, she didn’t focus much on her individual rank.
“Knowing Cate was holding her own, is huge,” coach Wilcynski said. “She’s a solid golfer and doesn’t let much mentally distract her. Which is awesome for a freshman, very competitive.”
Like her coaches, Leydig focused on the team. She was excited to compete with her fellow freshmen standouts, Dylan Manka and Olivia Kameiniarz, with whom she’s been golfing for years, and senior Myla Hoover, who just started golfing last year and earned a top-25 finish at divisionals—a feat commended by coach Wilcynski.
Wilcynski knew that Leydig, Manka and Kameiniarz didn’t have much experience competing as a team, only having entered individual tournaments before high school.
“I think it was a great experience, they learned a lot, and they have that competitive team edge,” Wilcynski said. She’s been watching them compete in golf events since grade school, and said she’s excited to have three solid players coming through the high school program.
The state tournament took place on May 16 and 17 at Anaconda Hills Golf Course near Great Falls. Wilcynski said it’s a challenging course, especially because the front and back nine were constructed 63 years apart.
Broadus led by five strokes after the first round, but Wilcynski and assistant coach Marja Sorensen stressed the importance of working together, noting that every putt would matter on day two.
“Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened,” Wilcynski said. All three teams traded positions, on day two, and with the final foursome—featuring Leydig—on the 17th hole, were knotted in a three-way tie.
Wilcynski said Leydig lipped out a birdie putt on hole 17. On the final hole, both Leydig and her Manhattan Christian opponent were on the green in two shots, and it came down to putting.
“In the years that I’ve coached [since 2015], I’ve never seen that exciting of a finish. It was a really wild finish,” Wilcynski said.
Leydig said the pressure of narrow state tournament didn’t set in until the end.
“Up until [the 18th] hole, I hadn’t been too worried about it. But the green was surrounded by people, and it was kind of nerve-wracking,” Leydig said.
She didn’t expect the chance to putt for individual and state Class C titles, considering the lingering winter kept the team practicing indoors for weeks. But after the Big Horns finished in second place at divisionals, she said it boosted their confidence, “knowing that we could podium,” Leydig said.
And podium they did, just one stroke over Manhattan Christian’s 581 and tied with Broadus, all decided by a few putts on the 18th green.
Next year, as the Big Horns move up to Class B, Leydig and Wilcynski are confident they’ll face stiffer competition.
“But I still think we’re a really strong team and we’ll have a chance to have another result like we did this year,” Leydig said.
Unlike Class C which counts the top three scores from a team of four, Class B scores four of five. With seniors Josie Wilcynski—who missed the state tournament due to school’s IB testing—and Hoover graduating, coach Wilcynski knows the Big Horns will need to find at least one more strong golfer to be competitive next spring.
On the boys side, Isaac Bedway qualified individually for state.
“This was his first year playing golf on a golf team,” coach Wilcynski said. “To make state in your first year—he was competitive with scores in the 90s [on a challenging course]—he’s a heck of a competitor and I think we’ll see some good stuff from him in the next couple years.”
High school golf might be wrapping up, but as locals know, golf season is just getting started. Wilcynski expects the team to improve throughout the summer.
Big Horns on the track
Lone Peak High School track coach James Miranda spoke on the phone with EBS before heading off to the Class C state meet in Laurel on May 25-26.
Three Big Horns athletes returned to state: senior Orrin Coleman will go the distance in the 1600-meter and 3200-meter runs, senior Ben Saad will compete in the high jump, and junior Astrid McGuire qualified again for 800-meter and 1600-meter events.
Miranda said Coleman and McGuire hold LPHS records in each of those events, and Saad will be high-jumping in college, “which is pretty awesome,” Miranda noted. “[Saad] is an individual who just started track a year ago—he was able to dunk a basketball, and he came out for track and things just worked out pretty quick.”
Coleman, an experienced Nordic skier, brough similar talent to the track. Miranda said he’s a strong distance runner with the right internal motor, and benefitted from speed work since joining last year.
Miranda described McGuire as “the energizer bunny,” noting that she “burns both ends of the candle” between early morning workouts and after school study hours.
The Big Horn track team had roughly 16 members this season, although numbers wavered between injuries, scheduling conflicts and club soccer, he said. A few athletes finished one place shy of state at the divisional meet, he added.
“Considering it’s a small program, I’m pretty proud of the fact we took our biggest-ever team of individuals to divisionals in Missoula,” he said, adding that nine or 10 athletes reached Missoula.
Miranda said he cares less about overall results and more about improvement.
“I do consider it to be a very successful season, I’m very proud of our athletes and the time and effort they put into it,” Miranda said. “Every single athlete had a personal record in their event… As a coach, that’s exactly what I look for in the track program.”
The Big Horns have plenty of talent to look forward to, as well.
“Holy cow, yeah,” Miranda said. “We’ve been out there coaching… I see a few eighth graders that look like they’ll be ready to start hot and maybe make it to that next level—[reaching] divisionals and maybe state.”
Ophir track and field sledgehammers the record board
Coach Tina Albers revived Ophir Middle School’s track team this season after a few-year hiatus. In a phone call with EBS, she was overjoyed to share more than a dozen record-breaking performances from one single meet on Thursday, May 18. It was the first-ever home track meet for the Miners or the Big Horns, and it was a co-ed, intra-squad meet.
The founder of OMS track more than two decades ago, Albers noted most of the standing records were from the late 1990s, when races were held on dirt and sand. Still, she said kids nowadays have gotten “a whole heck of a lot faster.”
Seventh-grader Olive Wolfe broke the 100-meter girls record, running it in 13.78 seconds. Seventh-grader Jack Barzizza claimed the boys record at 14.04 seconds.
Albers said the eighth-grade boys “pretty much shattered” the 4×100-meter relay record, running it in 54.84 seconds. On their heels, the seventh-grade girls set their own record with a 1 minute, 8-second finish.
Seventh-grader Maeve McRae ran the 200-meter dash in 28.2 seconds.
Seventh-grader Lola Morris ran the 400-meter dash in 1 minute, 11.72 seconds. Sixth-grader Owen Edgar ran it in 1:15.72.
Eighth-grader Liam Baker “crushed” the previous 800-meter record, Albers said, running it in 2:42.22. Lola Morris managed 3:04.47.
Seventh-grader Nick Hoadley ran the mile in 6:03.25.
Eighth-grader Lucas O’Connor high-jumped 4 feet 10 inches, and Olive Wolfe long-jumped 14 feet 4 inches for a girls record. Nick Hoadley put his name on the boys side of the board jumping 14 feet 11 inches.
Coach Albers plans to start earlier next year so the team can enter more than the two meets they competed in this season.
“The kids came out and ran hard, they enjoyed it, and couldn’t wait to get meets in,” she said.
She also thanked parent volunteers and coaches including assistant coach Laura Barzizza, who “did one heck of a great job,” Albers said.
Tennis duo wins two state matches
The Lone Peak High School tennis team sent two doubles teams to the Class B/C State Tournament in Great Falls on May 25-26.
Sophomore Addy Malinowski and junior Charlee Sue Dreisbach formed one duo, and senior Malin Nilsson paired up with sophomore Anna Masonic. Both pairs advanced to state from the divisional tournament.
Malinowski and Dreisbach played tennis last year, but Masonic and Nilsson are new to the program. Nilsson is an exchange student from Sweden.
Masonic and Nilsson lost in double elimination to Conrad High School and Three Forks High School.
Malinowski and Dreisbach, seeded No. 3 in the Class C Southwest Division, won their first match against Mission Valley Christian Academy, and lost to Simms High School. The Big Horns bounced back with a hard-fought win against Valley Christian School, before being eliminated by Bigfork High School.
“I am very proud of our team and how much they have improved over the season,” head coach Libby Grabow wrote to EBS.
Varsity baseball gets a dub
The LPHS baseball program has been featured by EBS as they debuted in Montana’s first ever high school baseball league this spring.
But despite a core of young, junior varsity talent, the varsity program was winless for much of the season. Granted, the Big Horns squared off against Class-A-sized powerhouses from Butte and Belgrade and spent weeks practicing indoors, but W’s eluded them.
That changed on May 11, when the Big Horns rematched Butte Central Catholic High School and scored three touchdowns for the varsity program’s first-ever win.
The Big Horns weren’t playing football, though. They won 23-15, including a 10-run third inning. Big Horn bats notched 16 hits, with two-hit games from freshman Ebe Grabow, senior Max Romney and junior Aidan Germain, and three hit showings from eighth-grader Sidney Morris and freshman Oliver McGuire.
McGuire pitched four innings for the Big Horns, allowing 10 runs on six hits with seven strikeouts, and earned the win.
Coach John McGuire noted that a double rainbow cast over the victorious Big Horns.
The Big Horns did not play any home games in their first season due to field issues. However, on Friday, June 2 at 5 p.m., they will play an intra-squad exhibition game at the Big Sky Community Park as part of a youth baseball community event.
This story was updated on 5/27 to note that the golf team’s state tournament berth was not the team’s ‘first ever,’ as previously stated.