By Bill Foley
The first Montana High school sports will be played in more than five months Monday when the Class AA and Class A golf seasons kick off.
Butte High will play at the Great Falls Invitational, which tees off at noon. The girls will play at the Meadow Lark Country Club, while the boys play at the Eagle Falls Golf Course.
Butte Central will host the BC Invitational at 9 a.m. at the Highland View Golf Course.
The invitationals will mark the first prep action since March 13, when the state basketball tournaments were halted with the news of the state’s first four cases of the coronavirus.
The season will look much different as the teams take precautionary measures amid the pandemic.
For instance, all of Butte High’s regular-season tournaments have been shortened to one day instead of the usual two. The Class AA divisional tournaments, which are new this year, and the state tournaments are still set for two days. (Butte High golf schedule)
Players will not be allowed to play with golfers from other schools. The players from each team will play together in the same group.
Exceptions to that rule, however, can be made. BC’s lone golfer will play with three Butte High junior varsity players and the one Stevensville player Monday at the Central tournament.
Spectators will also not be allowed this season.
While things will certainly be unusual, the Butte High’s teams still have reason to expect a great season.
On the boys’ side, sophomore Jack Prigge is looking to take the next step after an impressive freshman campaign. Prigge, who played in the Montana State Amateur Championships last month in Billings, placed 19th and finished just three shots out of All-State recognition (the top 15) in his first state tournament last fall.
“There’s high expectations for him,” Butte High coach Eric Mankins said.
Prigge is the lone player back from last year’s state tournament team. The other four graduated.
Senior Brady Anderson, junior Joseph Lyons and sophomore Jacob Sawyer will make the trip for the Bulldog varsity in the opener.
Butte High’s girls are looking to win a state tournament trophy for the third straight season.
The Bulldogs led the state tournament after the first day last October in Great Falls. Butte High slipped to third place for the second straight year on a snowy Day 2.
“The way things happened last year, you’d think be a little hungrier,” Mankins said.
Senior Ella Prigge, who placed seventh at state last year, and junior Kodie Hoagland, who placed 12th to earn All-State honors for the second straight year. Prigge is also coming off a 12th-place showing at last months Women’s State Amateur in Bozeman.
Seniors Kennedy Lean and MacKenzie Finnegan are also back from last year’s team. Lean joined Hoagland and Prigge on Butte High’s third-place team in 2018.
Senior Nacole Sestrich will also travel to Great Falls after edging classmate Megan Savage in a challenge match.
Mankins said Savage could also see time in the varsity lineup as the season progresses for the Bulldogs, who will host the Western AA Divisional tournament Sept. 24-25 at Fairmont Hot Springs.
The Class AA State tournament is set for Oct. 1-2 in Missoula.
“They’ve just got to get a little better each week, avoid those slumps and peak at the right time,” Mankins said of his girls’ squad. “They’re a great group. I’m so proud of them.”
Junior Austin Harrington is the lone Butte Central player returning with state tournament experience. He will not play in the first tournament, however, because he did not get in enough practices. Sophomore Randy Larson is also expected to play once he gets in the required practice time.
That leaves senior Phil Dwyer as the lone Maroon playing in the season opener. (BC sports schedules)
Hamilton, Stevensville, Corvallis, Dillon and Butte High’s junior varsity is set to play in the BC Invite. A total of just 32 players (boys and girls) will compete. 1 comment