Friday, January 21, 2022

Remembering all-time Whitefish sports moments in 2021

Whitefish Pilot | January 5, 2022 1:00 AM

Boys soccer gets illustrious “four-peat”

The final seconds of the game clock ticked away, and on Columbia Falls’ final chance — a penalty kick — Bulldog senior captain Will Peppmeier made possibly the most important save of his entire career.

As the ball deflected off Peppmeier’s gloves, Whitefish collectively as a team threw their arms in the air in celebration of winning their fourth-straight State A boys soccer championship.

The 3-2 win over Columbia Falls put the final stamp on a career for 10 seniors who have never lost a high school soccer game.

Whitefish finished the season 15-0 and its undefeated streak continues on with wins totaling 57, with two ties also in the mix, since 2017.

The Lady Bulldogs also went undefeated throughout the regular season, but were stopped up in the Class A semifinal when Billings Central won 5-1.

Speech and debate earn state title

The Whitefish speech and debate team handily beat out rival Columbia Falls to clinch the Class A state championship. Whitefish came out of the tournament earning 200 sweepstakes points over Columbia Falls with 167.

The Bulldogs victory broke the Wildcats’ winning streak of 15 years of state championships.

Though Whitefish has had several second-place finishes in the last several years at the state tournament, the last time the team had won a state championship was in 2005.

Two Bulldogs earned individual state championship titles in three categories. Senior Abigail Bowden earned first place in both extemporaneous and impromptu speaking while junior Paetra Cooke earned first place in memorized public address.

Gracie Smyley defends state title

At the Class A state tennis tournament, all eyes were on Whitefish senior Gracie Smyley. She was looking to defend her 2019 state title she earned as a sophomore. (The 2020 season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)

She faced Columbia Falls’ Hannah Schweikert yet again in the final, overcame losing a couple of games in the first set and then dominated to take the title. Smyley finished 50-0 for her high school career and only lost one set in two years of play.

The girls team took second place at the State A tournament.

The boys tennis team won a divisional title, and sent six athletes to the state championship. Senior Jayce Cripe fought off several match points in the grueling three-set match with Wildcat Niels Getts, but won the divisional singles title.

The boys ended up in second place at state, just two points shy of a state championship.

Lady Bulldog basketball stuns CFalls at state

A gutsy performance at the Class A divisional tournament, including winning two elimination games, sent the Whitefish girls basketball to state for the first time in 13 years.

Once at the state tournament, the Lady Bulldogs faced more games with their backs against the wall — one of those being against cross-county rival Columbia Falls.

Under pressure, the Lady Bulldogs shined. The girls put together a 46-38 win over the Kats. It was their first win over CFalls in 13 years.

Whitefish also finished second in the Northwest A conference and came in fourth at the State A tournament which was the highest place the Bulldogs had achieved since 2003.

To top it off Whitefish head coach Bob Bolam was named Coach of the Year in the conference.

Wrestling win over Polson

According to Whitefish head coach Danny Neff, it had been 15 years since the Whitefish team won over the Lake County foe.

Whitefish started out the dual by giving up four forfeits, and the coaching staff was buckling down for another tight matchup between the teams. But as it turned out, Whitefish wrestlers were aggressive and the better team that day.

“We won 60-18 with getting pins from all of our wrestlers which is unbelievable,” Neff said. “In all the years that I’ve been around the sport, being a wrestler and coaching, I’d never seen anything like that for Whitefish wrestling.”

Whitefish went on to take fourth place in the Class A divisional tournament a few weeks later and senior wrestler Nathan Sproul took the divisional title in his division. At the State Tournament the following week, Sproul kept in fine form and after fighting through two days of competition he placed fifth to lead the Bulldogs.

Boys basketball loses a heartbreaker

It was a cold night both outside and within the walls of the Dawg Pound on a late-February evening.

Open shots clanked and floaters in the lane rattled out as Whitefish watched its season come to an end when Columbia Falls shattered the Dogs hopes for a divisional berth. The Wildcats came out on top 58-43 in the postseason play-in game.

Whitefish had finished up the regular season going 2-1 in the final week of play which set up the game at home against the Wildcats. The Bulldogs had streaks of wins throughout the season, but ended with a 7-9 overall record.

Swimming just shy of state title

The Whitefish boys swim team finished just 3 points shy of the Class A boys swim state title, coming in second place to Billings Central.

Whitefish had a number of individual titles though, including junior Logan Botner earning state titles in the 100 yard butterfly and the 500 yard freestyle. Sophomore Jack McDaniel swam to a first-place finish in the 100 yard freestyle, as well.

For the girls, standout swimmer Ada Qunell clocked impressive times all year. The junior defended her 200 yard IM title for the third year in a row and also nabbed a title in the 500 yard freestyle race.

Football completes best season in years

The Bulldogs crushed the start of the season remaining undefeated through the first seven games. After dropping the final three games of the season they finished with a 7-3 record and were ousted from the postseason in the opening round by Frenchtown.

Despite the end to the season, Whitefish football finished with its best season record since 2015 when the Bulldogs won the championship. The team was led by a slew of talented seniors who showed leadership on and off the field.

Girls track and field outperform all year

The girls had personal bests to finish out the year and ended up with a divisional title, then came in second in Class A at the state tournament.

Senior Mikenna Ells lived up to expectations as she defended her title in the 400 meter race and also nabbed gold in the 200. She was edged by freshman teammate Brooke Zetooney in the 100 meter dash. Ells also anchored the Lady Bulldog 4X100 relay team that took first place in Class A.

For the boys, junior Gabe Menicke grabbed the state title in the triple jump.

Glacier Twins repeat as district champs

The Glacier Twins came away with their second straight West A District title when they defeated the Mission Valley Mariners 9-4 in Missoula.

The Twins went undefeated in the tournament, narrowly beating out the Libby Loggers and then defeating the Mariners twice. Glacier took a 48-14 record into the state tournament.

At state, Glacier came up just shy of the title to Gallatin Valley taking second place.

Boys golf claims divisional title

The Whitefish boys golf team became back-to-back Western A Divisional champions in Hamilton on a course that presented challenging conditions. Bulldog junior Johnny Nix took medalist honors in the tournament to lead his team to first place.

Later at the State A tournament in Polson, Laurel recorded a two-day score of 597 to top Whitefish which finished with 606. Whitefish junior Billy Smith shot a 72 on day one and was trailing Laurel’s Cameron Hackmann by just one shot, however Hackmann had quite the day on the green on day two — he shot a low score of 67 while Smith had a 73. Smith took second at the state tournament for the second-straight year. The boys team also came in second to Laurel.


Whitefish’s Nathan Sproul takes on Greenchain’s Xavier Reatz in the 113 -pound class Feb. 26. (Will Langhorne/The Western News)


Whitefish senior Gracie Smyley accepts the second-place team award following the State A tennis tournament in Billings on Friday. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)


Whitefish freshman Brooke Zetooney edges her teammate Mikenna Ells in the 100 meter dash finals at the Montana Class A-B State Track and Field Meet in Laurel on Saturday. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)


Whitefish senior Brook Smith goes up for a shot against Libby on Friday. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)


Whitefish lineman Ashton Akey blocks a Frenchtown player from getting to the ball during a playoff game against Frenchtown on Saturday in Whitefish. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)


Bulldog golfer Billy Smith plays in the Western A Kickoff tournament at Whitefish Lake Golf Course on Monday, Aug. 23. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)


Ada Qunell swims to a first place finish in the Girls 100 Yard Breaststroke race at the Cat-Dog Invite Saturday at The WAVE. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)


Lady Bulldog Brooke Roberts dribbles the ball down the sideline past a Frenchtown defender in a game at Smith Fields on Saturday. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)


Whitefish senior captain Gabe Menicke celebrates scoring a first-half goal against Columbia Falls on Saturday in Whitefish. Menicke scored all five of the Bulldogs' goals in the game. (Whitney England/Whitefish Pilot)

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