KELLOGG — It has been a long time since the Kellogg Wildcats were the outright champions of the Intermountain League.
So long that even the school administrators can’t pin down a date.
In that time there have been several solid players and terrific teams, but unfortunately there were always teams that got in their way or were simply way better.
Not this year.
Not this team.
Last week the Wildcats finished off their dominant run to an IML championship with a brutal back-to-back against league foes Priest River and Timberlake.
It was also the Wildcats’ only true scare of the season.
Against the Spartans, the Wildcats fell behind two sets to one, including a third set where Kellogg was manhandled by Priest River 25-7.
As it goes in high school Sports, at the end of each season teams will celebrate “Senior Night” where they honor their senior members of the team and there are gobs of pomp and circumstance mixed with heavy emotions.
Both of which can be distracting.
And that wasn’t all either.
“The highly distracting senior night and homecoming week made the girls have a very hard time pulling out the win,” Coach Steph Brunner said. “We started off slow, not being able to have all of our hitting options and our hits were off. This put us at a slower pace than what we have grown accustomed to playing at.”
Kellogg would go on to pull out the five-set victory, but that was largely in part to one of Kellogg’s reserve players.
With the fourth set knotted up at 13 all, junior Rosemerri Campbell went on an 8-0 serving run that put the Wildcats ahead and propelled them into the final set with all of the momentum.
“Each girl made an impact, Rosie Campbell being the biggest,” Brunner said. “She went out and gained some much-needed momentum for our team and put some much-needed energy and faith back on our court.”
Campbell’s heroics were the highlight of a night where not much went right for Kellogg, but people also got to see firsthand what many people have been saying for much of the season.
This team is good, from top to bottom.
“I’d say we definitely have a deep bench. The fact that we have the ability to run practices with a competitive 6-on-6 is key to our team’s success. Having such widespread talent is one of the best and most challenging problems a coach can have,” Brunner said. “Best because obviously a team is only as strong as its weakest leak, hence our strength. Challenging because I can only put six on that court and preferably a consistent six who have the chance to develop chemistry. It’s a good feeling to know if someone is having an off night we will still be OK.”
Fresh off that five-set struggle, the Wildcats had to host the defending league champs from Timberlake less than 24 hours later.
Kellogg wasn’t in the mood to be trifled with — Timberlake gave the ‘Cats a couple good sets, but it was three up and three down and the next thing you knew, Kellogg was the champions.
This time there wasn’t any heroics needed, just business as usual from the Wildcats’ lineup of killers.
Clinching the league championship secured the Wildcats the right to host the 3A District I Tournament.
“Winning league was amazing,” Brunner said. “The girls set a goal at the beginning of the season to host districts and they were all amped to have accomplished it. So while everyone was excited I don’t think it has fully sunk in for all of us yet. I feel like we haven’t been able to wrap our heads around what we can fully accomplish here.”
Kellogg’s regular season will end this week, but the District Tournament will officially begin this Tuesday at Kellogg High School.
Win the District Tournament and clinch a spot in the State Tournament.
“We are looking forward to the next couple of weeks,” Brunner said.