Choteau High School students began practicing on March 15 for boys and girls track, tennis and golf, and girls softball through a cooperative with Conrad High School.
The CHS golf coaches are head coach John Shepherd and assistant coach Josh Durocher. Nine CHS students have gone out for golf — girls, Savannah Durocher, Abby McCollom and Lily Heiburg; and boys, Tony Daley, Henry Bieler, Jagger Hofstad, Will Patterson, Dillon Harrell and Rocky Allaire.
“These first few weeks we are just preparing to compete in our first tournament next Friday — going over golf etiquette, scoring, rules and swinging the golf club,” Coach Shepherd said. “Our goal this year is to improve as the year progresses and try to qualify as many as possible to state,” he said.
The golf schedule starts with a tournament at Shelby on March 26 and the regular season runs through May 8. Choteau will host two tournaments at the Choteau Country Club golf course on April 30 and May 1. The divisional practice round will be May 10 at the Marias Valley golf course at Shelby and the divisional tournament will be there on May 11. The state tournament will be held May 17-19 at the Eagle Rock golf course at Billings.
Shepherd said the regular-season schedule will be subject to change as meets may be canceled or added.
The Montana High School Association last week issued guidance for the spring golf season, encouraging dual meets, and setting a limit of 90 golfers for larger multi-team invitational meets.
If a shotgun start is used, the point of entry to the course should be different to access the golfers’ starting holes. Golfers cannot gather at the clubhouse before or after a meet. Players can be assigned to groups by scores during the spring. After the meet, teams must exit to their bus immediately and team and individual scores will be shared with each team.
MHSA said a shotgun start does not have to be used, however there cannot be any gathering by teams waiting for their tee time (they must stay in their team staging area practicing proper social distancing until called to the tee).
For warm-ups during multi-team events, if a shotgun start is used, teams can report to their starting hole and use the previous green to practice chipping and putting. The amount of time allowed will be determined by the meet manager. If a shotgun start is not used, warmups on the driving range and putting green will not be allowed because of the number of team members gathering in those areas.
Choteau High School has four girls out for softball on the cooperative Conrad-Choteau team, which practices and plays at home in Conrad. Choteau’s Asia Bouma is injured and will not be able to start the season. The other girls out are Maili Miller, Ella Stott and Tessa Brownell.
Tyson Anderson returns as the head coach and is assisted by Tom Brown. There are 20 girls out for the squad.
“We will be working on a lot of fundamental stuff the first two weeks, especially hitting,” Anderson said. “Without having a season last year, we missed out on a lot of things, especially at bats. We did have some open gyms in the summer and winter to help combat that but there is no substitution for live action.”
He said the team’s goals for the season are to improve each day and play their best softball by divisional time. As a COVID-19 precaution, the girls are wearing facial masks when they are not running drills.
The girls’ first competition is on March 27 at a jamboree in Cut Bank. They will play for the first time at home in Conrad on April 17 as they host a triangular. The regular season concludes on May 15. The divisional tournament will be May 20-22 at Glasgow and the state tournament will be May 27-29 at Florence.
The MHSA issued guidance for spring sports that encourages contests between two teams and doubleheaders. Multi-team events will be allowed if held at a complex with more than one field and entry and exit to and from those fields for players is controlled. MHSA says designated areas for home and visiting fans need to be provided and plans for entry and exit to those areas included. Also, there cannot be common gathering areas for teams and fans (behind backstops, between fields, around a concession area, etc.).
Track and Field
Eleven girls and 12 boys are out for the Choteau High School track and field team this season. Head coach Callee Peebles returns along with Nate Tschida, who begins his third season as assistant coach with the program, while Stacia Coverdell and Stewart Merja continue to be volunteers who help with field event instruction and guidance.
Girls out this season are Elsah Bechtold, Liberty LaValley, Ellie Lee and Emma Jamison, all seniors; Sadie Grove, Emma Gunderson and Amy McKenzie, juniors; Ceanna Leys and Ada Bieler, sophomores; and Ella Birkeland and Violet Bechtold, freshmen. Boys out are Jacob Major, Carter Morgan, Jared Selander, Blake Gunderson and Jeffery Colesworthy, juniors; Derek Brownell, Landon Jamison, Weylin Johnson and Jacob Beattie, sophomores; and Roan Stott and Colton Parsons, freshmen.
“Given that we've had more than a year since being able to do anything track and field related, our main focus for the first couple of weeks is just to get back on track, literally (excuse the bad pun),” Peebles said. “The first week of practice was spent getting back into our daily warmup routines and completing workouts to get back in shape. Leading up to our first meet on April 1 in Cut Bank, we will be working on event fundamentals and drills.”
Last season, the team had one great week of practice before having to call it quits due to COVID-19. “To say we are happy to be back on the track and gearing up for a season is an understatement,” Peebles said. “Our biggest challenge is making up for lost time. Missing an entire season makes a huge difference in being able to build the athleticism and skills needed for track and field. Our freshmen and sophomores missed out on a vital year of event fundamentals, so we will be spending a lot of time going back to some of the basics and breaking down form.”
Peebles said the team’s goals for this season include having at least 75% of the team achieve Academic All-State, advancing/placing in the district track meet, and getting as many athletes to the state track meet as possible. “We are motivated to have a season and thankful that we will get the opportunity to compete this year,” she said.
The team will open the season on April 1 at the Cut Bank Pre-Easter meet and will be at home for the first time on April 17 for the Choteau Acantha Invitational. Choteau High will host a twilight meet on April 22, and the final regular meet of the season will be May 8 in Great Falls. The district meet will be May 15 at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls with the divisional meet May 22 at Glasgow and the state meet May 28-29 at Laurel.
The MHSA is recommending dual and triangular meets and says multi-team invitational events can be held if the proper protocols are followed, including masking when required by local county health and/or the local school district host, practicing proper social distancing, teams gathering in their assigned areas only, etc.
MHSA has put no limit on entries for dual and triangular meets, but has set limits on larger meets as follows: five entries per team per event if four to 10 teams are competing; four entries per team per event if 11 to 20 teams are participating; and three entries per team per event if 20 to 25 teams are competing. Twenty-five is the maximum number of teams allowed in a meet.
Schools need to check with local county health on holding multi-team events, the MHSA said. Top 10 and Top 8 track and field meets will be allowed because the number of participants is set at 10 or eight participants per event.
Head coach Carla May returns to lead the program with a new assistant coach, Bre Lobdell. There are eight girls and three boys out for tennis this season, and they have been working on their forehands, backhands, lobs and serves.
Students out for tennis include girls — Christine Funk, Soren Cummings and Anna Stutz, seniors; Katie Major and Bellamy Beadle, juniors; Anna Heimbuck and Ella Peach sophomores; and Ainsley DeBruycker, a freshman; and boys — Anthony Carlon and Aidan Schuh, juniors; and Matthew Haas, a sophomore.
“A competitive mindset is important but luckily most of our athletes have already participated in a sport this season,” May said. “Familiarizing themselves with strategies will help improve their tennis game.”
She said her goals for the season are for her players to see growth in the sport, not only in the fundamentals of tennis but in strategies to become a smarter player.
The tennis team will open their season on March 27 at the Cut Bank invitational meet. They will be at home for the first time on April 1, hosting Fairfield and Simms. Their next home meet will be the Choteau Invitational on April 16 and 17. The last regular meet of the season will be the Best of the West tournament at Missoula on May 14-15. The divisional meet will be held May 14-15 at Cut Bank and the state meet will be May 21-22 in Missoula.
MHSA recommends and encourages dual meets. Multi-team tournaments will be allowed if held at a complex with multiple courts and the ability to segregate teams while waiting to play along with entry and exit plans to the courts. MHSA says there can’t be common gathering areas for teams and fans.
MHSA says the local school in consultation with their local health department authority will determine whether to allow fans and, if so, under what restrictions, if any.