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Swimmers take second in Cody

The Powell Lady Panthers edged out Worland and Cody for second place at the Cody Invitational Swim Meet last week.

The Powell girls scored team points in every event, and placed four swimmers in the top 12 in three of them in a performance Coach Luke Robertson called outstanding.

After opening with a win in their first volleyball competition, the Powell Lady Panthers stumbled a bit last week, but finished strong at the Border Wars in Billings last week.

After earning a bye in bracket play on Friday, the Panthers fell to conference rival Lander in the quarterfinals, but came back to score two wins in consolation play in the tournament, which pitted six Wyoming teams against six Montana squads.

Lander advanced to the championship, but fell to Cody in the finals.

The Lady Panthers opened pool play against Miles City, Mont. on Friday and fell to the Cowgirls 2-1 in three close games.

After dropping the first set 15-12, they came back to win the second 15-13, but lost the deciding final 15-12.

They came back to take the next two matches in two games, defeating Hardin, Mont. 15-8, 15-10 and Glendive, Mont. 15-9,15-10, and won the top seed from the pool in a tiebreaker over Lovell and Lander.

On Saturday, Lander challenged the Lady Panthers after taking a narrow win over Laurel, Mont. in the first round. The Lady Tigers carried the momentum into the semi-final and opened up a narrow lead over Powell early. The Lady Panthers took a brief lead, but fell behind 21-18 late before making a comeback to come within a point at 23-22. A long Powell serve gave Lander a chance at game point, and a bad Powell pass ended the match.

Game two was more of the same, but at the end, Powell was unable to get a comeback started, and Lander took the match 25-17.

Coach Cindi Smith said the team, is still learning to play together in accounting for the loss.

“Communication is rough for us right now with four new starters,” Smith said.

The loss dropped the Lady Panthers into consolation, where they faced Lovell, and their woes continued in the first set of that match. The Lady Bulldogs were able to exploit a hole in the middle of the Powell defense and block a number of Lady Panther attacks on their way to a 25-22 win in the first game, but they came back strong in game two for a 25-14 game-two win and finished the match 15-6.

In their final matchup, the Lady Panthers again dropped their first game 22-25, but with both teams battling exhaustion, they were able to recover to take the next two sets, 25-21 and 17-7.

“We had a slow start both days,” Smith said of the weekend's competition. “But we made some adjustments and were able to turn things around,”

Offensively, the Lady Panthers were led by Olivia Rodgers' 49 kills for the tournament. Randi Asay contributed 19 kills and Kendra Ostrom scored 17. Ostrom was 100 percent from the service line and Kadi Cooley was 94 percent accurate.

Defensively, Hannah Groves led the back line with 43 digs, followed by Rogers with 35 and Ostrom with 22. On the front line, Liz Tilley made five blocks by herself and assisted on eight more. Corianne McKearney made three solo blocks and helped on eight, while Rogers made three solo blocks and assisted on four.

“We're still just trying to find what will make us tick,” Smith said. “That's what the early season is for.”

She has a new group of good kids, Smith said who are ready to work hard and get better, and leadership is developing.

The tournament results, particularly the loss to Lander and Cody's first-place finish, are an indication of the challenge the Lady Panthers face in defending their regional title, Smith said.

“It's going to be tough in conference this year. It will be interesting,” Smith said.

The Lady Panthers travel to Rawlins for another tournament challenge Friday and Saturday, where they will likely see competition from the East region as will as from Southwest Conference foes.

Next week, they will stay closer to home, traveling to Greybull on Tuesday for a dual beginning at 6:30 p.m. and visiting Cody for their first conference match of the season on Thursday in a match scheduled for 6:15.

Trapper men tie up Laramie


Northwest College midfielder Gavin LaFollette fights to maintain possession of the ball against pressure from Laramie College on Thursday. The Trappers play today (Tuesday) at Western Wyoming. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

NWC finishes level against defending Region IX champs

Like any good coach, Northwest College men's soccer skipper Rob Hill wanted the victory. That said, he wasn't exactly upset by his team's 2-2 tie against Region IX foe Laramie County Community College on Thursday.

“You just played better than the supposedly best team in our Region,” Hill told his side after 90 minutes of regulation soccer and two overtime periods ended Northwest's first-ever home match in a deadlock.

Trapper spikers win first

Bears battle into tiebreak

The Northwest College women's volleyball team picked up its first victory of the season last Tuesday in Billings. The Trappers knocked off the Rocky Mountain College JV squad by a 25-17, 21-25, 18-25, 25-22, 16-14 final count.

Suriname freshman Sandrina Hunsel planted 20 kills onto the Rocky Mountain side of the net as the Trappers rallied from a 2-1 deficit in games to pick up their first victory in six tries this season.

Awesome angling

Having competed as a professional in fishing tournaments since 2002, Powell's Pat Slater is all-too-familiar with the challenges posed by attempting to hook a walleye at Big Horn Lake. Having competed in the Yellowtail Fall Finale in previous years, he knew it was downright difficult.

“There was one year I came here and there were only three caught by the entire field,” Slater said of the two-day tournament.

“There's so much natural forage (at Big Horn Lake) that the fish don't need what we have. Getting them to bite in August is just difficult.”

Maybe. But Slater might have a hard time convincing folks of that after he and amateur partner Mark Nuss, also of Powell, more than doubled up the field to win the final stop on the five-event Montana Walleye Circuit this year. The pair were the only duo out of 21 teams to catch their five-fish limit both days.

By the time it was done, the pair had turned in more than 30-1/2 pounds worth of fish and pocketed $1,800 in prize money. The runner-up team reeled in just shy of 15 pounds.

“They said they were pretty sure it was a record for this event,” Nuss said of the team's walleye haul.

“We had a great weekend,” Slater said of the event, noting the team had a pretty good pre-tournament omen. “I'd gone up the two previous Sundays to practice, the last time with Mark. We got two or three walleye each day, including a really nice one the Sunday before the tournament.”

Strategy also went into the team's success, according to Slater.

“The Thursday and Friday before the tournament, we practiced fishing the lake again and identified four or five spots we felt had potential,” Slater explained. “On the morning of the tournament, we refined that to three locations.”

As it turned out, Slater and Nuss really only needed one location. After drawing a 7 a.m., Saturday launch time, the pair motored to its first selected location. Finding none of the earlier launched teams there, they dropped in on the site and began to fish.

“We watched a lot of teams go by us,” said Slater. “And for the first hour, we were kind of wondering if we shouldn't have gone past too. All we did was fight with snags, but we knew the fish were there, so we just kept casting.”

At 8:30 a.m., Slater got a bite and reeled in the day's first fish. Perhaps more notable, it was the first legal fish Slater had landed in the tournament's previous three years. Twenty minutes later, the team popped a 19-incher into the boat.

The pair continued to work roughly a 200-yard stretch of the lake and at 9:30 a.m., Slater saw his pole snap back.

“It snapped back like it had hit a snag, but I tried to set the hook, just to make sure,” said Slater.

It's a good thing he did. The object on the far end of Slater's line wasn't a snag. It was a 27-inch walleye.

“We were pretty pumped up at that point,” said Slater.

Since the tournament was a live-release event, the pair immediately departed from their fishing hole in search of one of the three weigh boats to log their catch. Successful in that endeavor, they returned to find that nobody had moved in on their location, hooking two more fish to fill out their first day's limit and enter the tournament's midway point with nearly an eight-pound lead.

“At that point, we knew we had a good weight,” Slater said. “But I knew we needed to catch something the second day to protect our lead.”

So the next day, they returned to the scene of the crime and again found their primary site empty of other competitive anglers. Within the first half hour, they pulled in a 24-inch walleye that weighed in at roughly five pounds.

“At that point, I knew our lead was safe and we just started having fun,” Slater said. “They just kept biting. We each stuck two more and were done within three hours. The last fish we brought in was 21 inches.”

In an amazing feat that only hardcore anglers might appreciate, Slater notes the pair were able to land every fish for the event.

“There were a couple that tried to get away,” Slater admits. “But we were able to get them all to the boat, and that doesn't happen all the time.”

The team also had success in selecting the right lure. All 10 tournament fish were caught using a lure known as the Cha Cha Squidder. Nine of the 10 attracted to one specific shade of the lure.

Slater and Nuss dominated both days of the event, recording the highest catch weights on both Saturday and Sunday. The day also shattered Slater's previous best professional finish.

“I'd never placed above fifth previously,” said Slater. “It was a phenomenal feeling to win it going away like that. It was just humbling and gratifying.”

Lady Panthers take Lovell in volleyball


Sophomore Corianne McKearney reaches to deliver a kill as setter Kadi Cooley, who set up the attack, watches during the Powell Lady Panthers' four-set win over Lovell Tuesday. The non-conference match was the home opener for the team, which travels to Billings this weekend for the Montana-Wyoming Challenge at Billings Central High School. Tribune photo by Don Amend

Panthers roar back after early game one stumble

The Powell Lady Panthers got off to a shaky start in their volleyball home opener, but recovered to knock off Lovell Tuesday night.

While they struggled at times, the Lady Panthers came back from an opening game loss to score two solid wins, and held off a late Lovell rally to defeat the Lady Bulldogs 23-25, 25-14, 25-14, 25-21.

Rough start for Trapper volleyball

Northwest College shut out in Idaho

Volleyball season got off to a rocky start for the defending Region IX North champions as Northwest College was denied victory at the season-opening College of Southern Idaho tournament over the weekend. Northwest lost all five of its tournament games.

The Trappers entered the event ranked No. 25 nationally in the NJCAA's preseason poll, but encountered three of the top 11 teams ranked in that balloting. Northwest fell 21-25, 22-25, 21-25 to No. 3 Salt Lake. The Trappers were denied 22-25, 17-25, 16-25 by No. 4 Miami Dade and came out on the short side against No. 11 North Idaho by a 20-25, 29-27, 17-25, 21-25 final count.

Women's soccer wins opener

NWC ladies unscored on after two games

When Northwest College head soccer coach Rob Hill began the task of assembling the school's first-ever women's soccer program, he started by signing Belgrade, Mont., freshman Sydney Heckel. On Friday, Heckel rewarded Hill's faith with a pair of goals in a 3-0 Northwest victory over Dodge City.

Let the trivia books show that it took just eight minutes for Northwest College to register its first soccer goal. Heckel connected from long range off a pass from Casper's Hannah Couldridge.

“It was a relief for the whole team to get the first goal of the regular season out of the way,” said Hill. “You could see the confidence of the team grow after that goal as we continued to create chance after chance.”

Despite those chances, Northwest led by just a 1-0 count at the half.

That quickly changed as the two sides returned to the pitch. Couldridge connected off a Shelby Willis assist just over three minutes into the second half to give the Trappers a 2-0 lead. Twenty minutes later, Heckel struck again on a direct free kick that went off the keeper's fingers and into goal.

By contrast, Northwest keeper Becca Sangster had a relatively uneventful first game. The Afton freshman was called on to turn away just two Dodge City shots as the defensive line of Jen Berg, Makenzie Richins, Rachel Cruz and Cynthia Barrajas severely limited the Conquistadors' open looks.

“It was a pretty one-sided affair,” Hill said. “ We played with aggression. We were first to the ball and it made a big difference in how much possession we had and how many chances we created.”

After winning their first-ever soccer contest, the Trappers returned to the field 24 hours later to record a 0-0 tie with Cisco College of Texas.

The game was played with a persistent 30-35 mile per hour wind howling across the field. The contest was also delayed for more than an hour due to what Hill described as “referee problems.”

“It didn't help the team with their mental preparation,” Hill said of the unexpected delay. “We were all ready and warmed up to go and the game was delayed.”

As a result, Hill said, it took the Trapper women most of the first half to find a rhythm offensively. After squandering the wind advantage in the first half, the Trappers hunkered down after intermission as Cisco had the wind at its back.

“We got into the attacking half of the field only a few times (in the second half),” Hill said. “When we did, we were creating decent opportunities.”

The Trappers also saw their fitness level tested as the game stretched into overtime.

“I only made one substitution in the game,” Hill said. “We showed our fitness was up to the necessary level.”

With a 1-0-1 record, the Trappers head to Scottsbluff, Neb., this Saturday for a Region IX encounter with Western Nebraska.

“It was good to start the season without conceding a goal,” said Hill. “Getting a win on the road was also a great confidence booster for the team.”

The contest could be a clash of offense against defense. Western Nebraska carries a 2-0 record into the game. The Cougars have tallied 19 goals in their two victories.

Runners open year strong


Although the draw had Powell starting behind the field out of the opening chute, the Panther girls passed the competition to capture the team title in their 2010 opening meet in Cody last Friday. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

PHS girls top field at Cody

The Powell High School girls won the title while the boys were runners-up at the Cody Invitational cross country meet on Friday. The event was the first of the 2010 fall season for the Panthers.

“Both the boys and girls teams got off to a good start to the year,” said coach Cliff Boos. “They got out there and ran with some enthusiasm and showed a good attitude.”

Two Powell Lady Panthers started their season by qualifying for the state swim meet Saturday in the first varsity competition at the Powell Aquatic Center.

Maddy Jones opened her final season as a Lady Panther by qualifying in the individual medley, and junior Anya Tracy earned her spot at state in the backstroke. Tracy finished second with her swim and Jones third.

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