Butte’s Mya Stenson competed on the big stage in Seattle, and the 11-year-old Butte girl more than held her own.
Stenson placed third in her age group at the NFL Pepsi Punt, Pass & Kick competition, which was held Nov. 28.
The Margaret Leary sixth grader was part of a highly successful contingent of western Montana Athletes competing at the event.
Calla Haldorson, 15, of Hamilton repeated as NFL Team Champion. Other western Montana youths placed at the event as well: Kadynce Couture, 9, of Ronan placed second; Elizabeth Bluemel, 13, of Ronan, and Brock Cantrell-Field, 15, of St. Regis each placed third in their respective age groups. Tyce O’Connell, 9, of Hamilton, and Kody Carter, 11, of Plains, also competed at the event.
Haldorson nearly doubled the score of her nearest competitor in the event, and in the process established a new state record in the punting event. Her punt of 123 feet, 1 inch bested the previous state mark by more than 2 feet.
She is now eligible to compete in the PPK National Finals to take place in January at a yet-to-be-determined site. Haldorson qualified for the national finals event in 2014. She must now await the results of the other 31 NFL teams’ events, and place in the top four of her respective age group to advance.
All the Montana youngsters competing in Seattle had to win not only their respective local PPK and the western Montana sectional event, held Oct. 11 in Missoula, but also be in the top four of the 11 other sectional age-group winners in the Seahawks’ region, which includes all of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
Western Montana has had at least one Team Champion since it began to compete in the regional competition in 1995, and with Haldorson’s recent championship now has earned 34 Team Championship honors over that time.