Butte 11 year old Mya Stenson is one of eight youths from Western Montana to qualify to compete in the NFL Team Championship of the NFL Punt, Pass & Kick (PPK) program.
The competition will be held in Seattle on Saturday, Nov. 28, with an awards luncheon and halftime exhibition as part of the Seahawks vs. Pittsburgh Steelers NFL game on Nov. 29.
Along with Stenson, other Western Montana athletes moving on to Seattle are Tyce O’Connell, 9, and Calla Haldorson, 15, both of Hamilton; Kadynce Couture, 9, and Elizabeth Bluemel, 13, both of Ronan; Kody Carter, 11, Thompson Falls; Nate Hill, 13, Townsend; and, Brock Cantrell-Field, 15, St. Regis.
The trip will mark the second consecutive appearance in the Seattle event for Haldorson, who not only won her age group at that competition in 2014, but went on to qualify for the national PPK finals held in January also in Seattle. Two other Montana youths also competed in the national event, with then seven-year-old Easton Reimers of Missoula earning the title of national PPK champion.
The Seattle Seahawks’ region includes all of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, plus Western Montana. The Montana youngsters had to win not only their respective local PPK competition and the Western Montana sectional event, held in Missoula on Oct. 11, but also be among the top four of the 11 sectional age-group winners in the Seahawks’ region. Six other central and eastern Montana youngsters qualified to compete in the Denver NFL Team Championship, making a total of 14 Montana qualifiers in 2015.
Talen Thatcher, 7, of Butte just missed qualifying for the event, placing fifth.
Western Montana youths have fared well at the Seattle regional competition, never failing to win at least one age-group championship over the past 20 years, and winning three age-group championships in three of those years. To advance to the national PPK championship in January, the youths competing in Seattle or Denver must win that event and be one of the top four scorers among all other regional winners representing each of the 32 NFL teams throughout the country. Including Haldorson and Reimers as mentioned about, Montana has produced nine national finalists and three national champions over the past 20 years.