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January 04, 2011 1:43 pm

Something old, something new to end 2010

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Sports highlights continued through year’s end

(Editor’s note: This article concludes a three-part series on the sports highlights around Powell in 2010. This installment looks at the months of Sept.-Dec. The first two parts of the series appeared in last week’s issues of the Powell Tribune.)

As the 2010 calendar wound down, the local sports scene continued to give fans plenty to cheer about. For some programs it was a little of the old, while others were experiencing things far newer.

For Northwest College, the start of fall semester classes brought with it the start of a whole new athletic program. Men’s and women’s soccer, previously a club sport, was elevated to the level of intercollegiate activity as the Trappers fielded their first official teams.

Trapper soccer made its debut in Dodge City, Kan., and, fittingly enough, the Trappers’ first goal was scored by the school’s first official player. Belgrade, Mont., native Sydney Heckel toed the ball past the goalkeeper just eight minutes into Northwest College’s first-ever game to announce the program’s arrival. Heckel would go on to add a second goal in the contest, which finished with a 3-0 victory for the Trappers.

The men’s team wasn’t as fortunate, falling 2-1 in its first-ever game, but made up for it as the year went along. After a strong run through Region IX competition, the Trappers found themselves second after the regular season. The team went on to play for a Region IX title, falling to eventual national tournament qualifier Otero in the championship game.

Afterward, Trapper midfielder Gavin LaFollette, originally from Cody, was named the Region IX tournament MVP while Trapper head coach Rob Hill was named the Region IX Coach of the Year for the work he had done with his first-year programs.

Meanwhile, after beginning the season ranked in the top 25, the Northwest College women’s volleyball team found its season sidetracked early following a series of unfortunate major injuries to players. By season’s end, the Trappers’ program resembled a triage unit and dreams of successfully defending the school’s Region IX North title were gone.

Northwest College limped its way to a regular-season runner-up finish in the Region IX North standings, but eventually were ousted in the consolation semifinals of the regional tournament. Head coach Flavia Siqueira announced her resignation at season’s end, prompting the Trappers to launch a coaching search at year’s end for a successor.

In the rodeo arena, Northwest College bull rider Cayd Kluesner made a splash. Less than half a year after competing in the CNFR with a torn knee ligament, Kluesner capitalized on an opportunity by winning a Professional Bull Riders Challenger Tour event in Washington. The victory opened a world of opportunity to Kluesner on the PBR circuit for 2011.

At the high school level, Powell High School brought home hardware from the state cross country meet. The Panther girls captured their third state championship in five years by running away from the field on a rainy, windy October day in Douglas.

Leading up to the race, the 2010 edition of state 3A cross country had been forecast to be a multi-team battle. In reality, the Panthers made a mockery of the field, cruising to a 30-point victory to easily outdistance their nearest challengers. Freshman Sierra Morrow and sophomore Tally Wells, each in their first season of high school cross country action, both earned all-state honors as the top five Panthers all finished among the first 16 racers to the finish line.

Not to be outdone, the Panther boys wrote their own unique story in Douglas while bringing home a third-place team trophy. While those on the team weren’t surprised by the finish, many around the state were after the Panthers endured their roughest race of the season just one week prior, placing a disappointing fifth in the standings.

In Douglas, however, the team ran its best times of the year in arguably the worst conditions of the year. Powell passed three of the four teams ahead of it in the 3A West regional standings and was nipping on the heels of the defending 3A state champions by the time the final point totals were posted.

Also turning heads with her state performance this past fall was Panther tennis player BreaAnn Hollenbeck. Hollenbeck, Powell’s No. 2 singles tennis player, advanced to the championship semifinals and was within five points of a place in the state championship match before suffering back-to-back losses.

On the gridiron, the Panthers were ranked in the top five for seven of the eight weeks of the regular season, qualifying for the 3A playoffs before falling by a narrow 10-7 final score in the quarterfinals to Riverton. Along the way, the team turned heads for its ballhawking secondary unit.

Panther defensive backs picked off a season-high six passes during Week 2 action against Wheatland. Junior Olie Olson made headlines for snaring four in a single game during Powell’s season-opener against Riverton.

The latter months of the year saw Powell’s Kanin Asay finish fourth in the world bull riding rankings after another successful National Finals Rodeo. Asay won back-to-back rounds early in the 10-day NFR to temporarily vault as high No. 2 in the standings before a series of late no-rides saw him fade back to fourth.

Asay wasn’t the only one with reason to celebrate at the NFR, however. Meeteetse native Dusty Tuckness was honored on the eve of the event as the PRCA’s bull fighter of the year. The award, voted on by the entire membership of the PRCA, was bestowed at the awards banquet the night before Round 1 of the NFR.

Powell anglers Pat Slater and Mark Nuss notched their own record of sorts at the annual Yellowtail Fall Finale walleye tournament. The dynamic duo more than doubled up the field with two days of stellar angling, pulling in 30.5 pounds of fish. The pairing were the only competitors in the two-day event to land their full five-fish limit each day.

And no discussion of 2010 would be complete if we didn’t revisit one of the most bizarre tales of the calendar year. The Yellowstone Quake were stunned in November to learn that a 19-year-old goaltender on the team’s roster was actually a 25-year-old former hockey prospect playing under a false identity.

Anthony Tocco had allegedly assumed the identity of his cousin, Nikoe Giacomo, in an effort to work his way back into the sport. Quake officials were alerted to the deception after being contacted by Cody police, who had received a phone call from the real Giacomo, who lives in Michigan and had learned of the situation by stumbling upon online stories covering Quake hockey.

An investigation into the matter by the North Pacific (NORPAC) hockey league cleared the Quake of wrongdoing, but the team was required to forfeit three victories that occurred while Tocco was playing in the net for the team.

Just an interesting ending to a year filled with sports highlights.

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