It was another successful year for the Columbia Falls High School Wildcats. From state titles to state records, the Wildcats made 2019 a year to remember.
The Wildcat speech and debate team won its 14th straight state championship in dramatic fashion Jan. 26, but did not find out about the win until three days later. The team left the state meet with the second-place trophy after losing a tie-breaker with Whitefish, but it was later determined that a scoring error had robbed the Cats of the state title, an error that was corrected on Jan. 29 to give Columbia Falls the state title, the 21st in the school’s history. According to Montana High School Association Assistant Director Scott Wilson, it was the first time in the organization’s history that a state title had to be reversed.
The Wildcat cross-country team earned its second straight state title in October, overcoming snowy conditions in Great Falls to hold off Hardin and Fergus. Aidan Jarvis finished fourth overall in the race while James Role was seventh, James Petersen was 11th, Joe Lamb was 22nd, Seth Umbriaco 23rd, Bailey Sjostrom 46th and TJ Jacobi was 93rd.
Junior Angellica Street broke the all-class state record in javelin at the state track meet in Laurel in May with a toss of 156 feet, 11 inches. Street also had a strong showing in the shot put, finishing third with a toss of 37 feet, 7 inches and was 13th in the discus with a throw of 102 feet as the Wildkats finished sixth as a team.
Street was named the Gatorade Montana Track Athlete of the Year.
The Wildkats basketball team finished third at the state tournament for the second consecutive year in March, bouncing back from an opening round loss to Laurel with wins over Libby and Billings Central to reach the third-place game, where they avenged their loss to Laurel with an overtime victory over the Locomotives. The girls finished the season with a school-record 25 wins and just two losses.
Also during the basketball season, senior Ryley Kehr tied a 32-year-old state record with 16 steals in a game against Polson Jan. 28. Kehr went on to lead the state in steals.
Eight members of the Wildcats football team found out in January they had been selected for the 73rd annual Montana East-West Shrine Game. Those selected for the game included Colten McPhee, Tanner Gove, Drew Morgan, Gage Karlin, Jakob Beich, Parker Greene and Zach Pletcher.
The Wildkat volleyball team steamrolled it’s way through its competition in the fall, going undefeated in Northwest A play to earn a conference title before taking second at divisionals and going 1-2 at the state tournament in Bozeman.
The MatCats wrestling squad came away from the state tournament with a fifth place team finish after earning an individual state championship, one second, a third and a pair of sixth-place finishes Feb. 8. Taylor Glaueau brought home the team’s lone state title from the meet, earning first place in the 285-pound division after going 4-0 and pinning Browning’s Wacey Zuback in 5:36 in the title match. Colten McPhee battled injury to take second in the 182-pound division, Jakob Freeman was third in the 285-pound weight class and Allec Knapton and Thomas Peters each took second in their divisions.
The Wildkat softball team made another appearance at the Class A state tournament in Polson in May, going 3-2 with wins over Stevensville, Custer County and Ronan and losses to eventual state champion Belgrade and runner-up Polson. The Kats finished the season with a record of 15-12.
The 400 freestyle relay team of Russell Albin, James Role, Peyton Malmberg and Sam Pirece took second at the state meet in Bozeman in February to help lead the Wildcats to a fourth-place finish as a team. The girls took fifth.
Hannah Schweikert fought her way back from a second-round loss to earn third place at the Class A state tennis tournament in Kalispell in May while the boys doubles team of John Gilk and Camryn Lingle earned sixth place.