AA treasures glow for Advantage Butte efforts

By Bruce Sayler

The load of Class AA treasure Advantage Butte won from Montana High School Association events bidding was a high point  in topic discussion at the local group’s April meeting held Tuesday at the Butte Plaza Inn.

Announcements from the MHSA in Helena this week showed the Executive Board awarding Butte the 2018 golf, and 2019 basketball and softball Class AA state tournaments. The basketball tournament, which will be championship competitions for both boys’ and girls’ teams, will be held in the Civic Center March 7-9 of 2019, and the state girls’ softball tournament is slated for Stodden Park May 23-25 of the same year. The golf, for boys and girls, is to be held sometime in the span of Sept. 24-29 of 2018.

Bill Melvin, Civic Center manager, pointed out the Class AA basketball tourney is traditionally the best-attended and highest-grossing of any state tournament in Montana. It was last held here in 2015. The softball tourney will be making a return after an absence of more than 20 years, having last been played in Butte, also at Stodden Park, in 1997.

Melvin, Ron Davis and Butte High School Activities Director Chuck Merrifield were the major players in Butte’s luring of the events.

Davis, a Butte Broadcasting Co. representative to Advantage Butte and who served several years as its president, said the group will be approached when the time comes for financial help in putting on the tournament.

He also noted that the group tried to convince the MHSA to allow Butte to take over as host of next month’s state A-C high school track meet with a plan to run in conjunction with the state AA-B meet already set for Bulldog Memorial Stadium. The A-C meet was slated for Missoula, but installation of a new track at MCHS Stadium may not be ready in time, so the MHSA opted to go with a different venue. It decided on Laurel.

If it were to be held in Butte as an all-class, both-gender state meet, the plan would have been for a three-day schedule. Davis said financial help had been secured to hold the meet and preparations had begun.

“We’re disappointed we don’t get to try it, but congratulate Laurel and hope the best for them,” he said.

Butte was earlier awarded the state Class C boys’ and girls’ basketball tournaments for 2018. They will be held separately on consecutive weekends, March 1-3 and March 8-10, respectively, in the Civic Center.

District and divisional basketball and volleyball tournaments are to be held in Butte next year, as well. The Eastern AA divisional basketball will be at Butte High and Montana Tech next February while the Western A SuperDivisional basketball will be played at the Civic Center. The District 12-C basketball tourney is to be played in February at the Maroon Activities Center.

This fall, the MAC will play host to the 12-C and Western A volleyball tournaments, Don Peoples Jr., manager of the facility, said.

The MHSA selected the other 2019 state tournament sites as Great Falls for Class A combined, Bozeman for Class B combined, Great Falls for Class C girls and Billings for Class C boys. Previously placed were the 2018 state hoops tournaments — including Billings for Class AA combined, Bozeman for Class A boys, Great Falls for Class A girls, and Missoula for Class B combined.

Advantage Butte President Rody Holman, also representing PayneWest Insurance, said the organization has $37,370 in its checking account, has paid $31,495 in school-year commitments and has $17,800 committed to requests.

Holman forwarded a request from Butte Central Catholic High School for $1,000 to help defray costs of holding the Southwestern A Divisional tennis tournament May 18-20 in Butte. Expected expenses are for rentals of audio equipment and portable rest rooms, and buying clerical supplies, tennis balls, a bulletin board and paying officials, explained Chad Petersen, Butte Central activities director. Holman said the executive board of Advantage Butte reviewed the request and recommended approval. Ray Ueland, representing Perkins Restaurant, The Metals Sports Bar & Grill, and the M&M cafe, moved to approve and Brandi Jensen-Campbell of the Hampton Inn seconded. The motion carried.

Melvin reminded that the Harlem Globetrotters basketball entertainment team will perform at the Civic Center on April 27.

Petersen said coming major events for Butte Central athletics include the John Tomich Invitational track meet April 29, the LaVerne Combo Classic softball tournament May 12-13 and the divisional tennis tourney.

Matt Stepan, of the Butte Wrestling Club, said more than 300 wrestlers constituting about 700 total entries vied in the annual Smith/McCarthy Invitational wrestling tournaments — freestyle and Greco-Roman — last weekend at the Civic Center. He said it went well. The club will hold its annual dinner, being renamed this year as the Hoot Gibson Century Club Dinner, on June 9. Gibson has been long active in Butte community events, including service to the club. Stepan said a contingent of about 30 Butte wrestlers will enter the USA Wrestling Western Zone Nationals tourney in Pocatello, Idaho, the third week of June. He said proceeds from the dinner, the tourneys the club holds and donations from sponsors pay for the travel and entry to the Zones.

Stepan is also an assistant athletic director at Montana Tech and reminded the good-sized crowd attending the meeting that the Orediggers’ spring football game will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Bob Green Field. The Udder Insanity fund-raiser will conclude sometime in the afternoon on campus and the auction will follow at 7:30, preceded by the 5:30 social in the HPER Complex. Stepan said Montana Tech golfers will play in the Frontier Conference golf tournament on Saturday in Tempe, Ariz.

Gina Evans of the Butte 100 mountain biking spectacular said Big Dipper ice cream of Montana has created a commemorative flavor — “Basin Butte.” She said it includes Butterfinger candy ice cream, coffee and “if you’re of age,” a shot of Headframe Spirits’ Orphan Girl liqueur “on top.” The 2017 Butte 100 is set for July 29. The kids’ events at Homestake Lodge will include a climbing wall, Evans said, and she added June 17 will be Pete Sorini Trail Day in which volunteers will work on the bike trail. She said 313 riders have registered for the Butte 100 and companion races. She added that the Great Divide Run will include Butte on its course in early June.

Peoples said a boys’ basketball tournament for high school varsity and junior varsity players will be held June 3 in the MAC, and that potential exists to also hold a girls’ hoops tourney June 16 in the facility if interest warrants,

Stephanie Sorini of the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce said Butte promotional packets were distributed at recent tournaments held in the community and seemed to be a successful endeavor. She said several businesses told her they saw an increase in sales during those dates.

Kiwanis Club officer Cathy Tutty talked about the group’s Kids Coalition and said a parks and recreation guide will be distributed locally next month with information on camps, parks, hiking and biking trails and active kids organizations for summer programs. She said a VISTA volunteer for the program has been a valuable asset in helping to lead the kids’ projects.

Ueland reminded the University of Montana is holding its spring football intrasquad football game Saturday in Butte. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Naranche Stadium.

Sorini added that Montana Tech will be the site of a concussion symposium on May 11 in the college’s auditorium. It is to start at 6 p.m. and to be led by BMX gold medalist and ESPN sports analyst Kevin Robinson, Dr. Thomas Rau and Fr. Patrick Beretta. Panelists are to include Dr. Nick DiGiovine, trainer Chris Heard, concussion awareness advocate Christine Barry, Neural Injury Center researcher Sarj Patel, neurology specialist Anthony Williamson, and Butte High football and track coach Arie Grey. Laurel Egan will serve as moderator, and Dr. George Mulcaire-Jones and Sheila O’Neill will open the symposium with a welcoming and introduction. It is free and open to the public.

The next Advantage Butte meeting is scheduled for May 16 at the Butte Plaza Inn.


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