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Historic day for Columbia Falls soccer as five sign to play college

by KATIE BROWN
Daily Inter Lake | May 10, 2023 2:00 AM

Five members of the 2022 State A champion Columbia Falls Wildcats soccer team signed letters of intent to play in college on Thursday.

Bryce Dunham, the Wildcats’ starting goalkeeper, committed to D-II Montana State-Billings for soccer and track. He’ll throw the javelin for the Yellowjackets as well as mind the net.

“I love competing at a higher level and having the opportunity to compete in two sports in college is gonna be great,” Dunham said. Dunham’s best throw this spring is 158 feet, 11 inches. The Class A state qualifying standard is 167-0, a mark Dunham is hoping to reach in the coming weeks.

Last fall, Dunham set a school record with nine shutouts on the 15-0 Wildcats, en route to the school’s first state title in 17 years. Walt Nichols and Finley Sundberg signed with Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. Sundberg led Class A soccer with 24 goals (regular season and playoffs combined) and had 17 assists his senior season. Nichols scored seven goals and had 10 assists.

Evergreen has produced several players that have gone on to play soccer at the professional level, including Shawn Medved and Joey Gjertsen.

Nico Lang signed with Edgewood College in Madison, Wisc., a private Roman Catholic college.

Dale Blickhan signed with Bellevue College in Bellevue, Wash. Blickhan scored nine goals and had eight assists for the Wildcats. He also scored the first goal in the state championship game, a 5-2 win over Livingston. Bellevue competes in the Northwest Athletic Conference.

“A group this tight and of this quality, class, and talent, comes along maybe once or twice in a coach’s career if they are lucky,” Wildcats coach O’Brien Byrd said. “Not only do they embody all those characteristics, but they have the passion to continue on and tackle the next level. Their college coaches are going to be stoked to take these exceptional young men into their programs. I can’t wait to try to catch some of their college games after the high school season is over.”