COEUR d’ALENE — It was never going to be easy, and for the Kellogg Wildcats it only got harder.
The Lady Wildcats tied for fifth place at the 3A State Tournament at Lake City High School last weekend.
After playing 13 sets of volleyball, including eight straight to end their appearance in the tournament, the Wildcats were gassed.
Kellogg, coming off its first league title in school history, opened the tournament with an exciting 5-set (25-15, 25-27, 23-25, 25-20, 15-12) victory over Snake River.
The Wildcats then fell in the second round to Filer after a valiant comeback in another 5-set match (25-11, 21-25, 18-25, 25-15, 15-4).
With only a 20 minute respite following their contest with Filer, the Wildcats had nothing left to challenge the Gooding Senators and were eliminated in three (25-18, 25-18, 25-21).
At times the Wildcats looked poised to hang with the best in the state, but struggles from the serve line killed a lot of their momentum throughout their appearance in the tournament.
Coach Steph Brunner had a lot of things on her mind following her team’s elimination.
“I really liked the level of competition we had,” Brunner said. “We had great community support, we played good volleyball for the first two matches, but I don’t care for the format. I wish we could have played Gooding at 7 in the morning on Saturday instead of playing them right away.”
Not one to make excuses, Brunner believes her team should have played better against Gooding, but admitted that the situation was something no one on her team or staff was ready for.
“We are an emotional team. We won our league with a lot of emotion, we won districts with a lot of emotion, we won our first match here with a lot of emotion,” Brunner said. “I wish we could have either played Gooding right away before we could emotionally process that we had just blown a lead against the defending State Champs or had a night to process it instead of 20 minutes.”
Brunner rarely singles out players and tends to believe the team as a whole is what makes the machine work, but in this setting Brunner saw a lot of positive at various times.
“Hailey (Cheney) played amazing against Snake River and finished with 17 kills and 14 blocks for points,” Brunner said. “Against Filer, Cierra (Brandt) played terrifically and really was a huge part of our comeback against them. Erin Van Hoose played her best volleyball of the season for the entire day. Grace Nearing played the net so well, with excellent set selection. But we had great play everywhere from everyone who got out there, including Piper (Rainio) and Jaron (Figueroa).”
Against Filer, the Wildcats fell behind quickly, but then turned it around quickly before committing a classic athletic mistake.
“We thought we had them mentally beaten and we didn’t,” Brunner said. “We backed off from what was working and it cost us.”
No consolation will really help the Wildcats or Brunner, who still believes that her team was easily better than what they showed, but that hasn’t hurt the level of pride that she has for her team and their performance over the season.
“We still accomplished a lot of what we wanted this season,” Brunner said. “It does suck to know that we were so close to a trophy, but we played hard, we played good volleyball, and we absolutely deserved to be down there. It was a ton of fun to be a part of something that rallied the community the way our season did. It was an honor to coach this team.”
KELLOGG — The Wildcats season unceremoniously came to an end last Friday night when they were knocked out of the 3A State Playoffs by Teton 33-8.
The Wildcats struggled to get third down stops necessary to stop the Redskins’ drives on multiple first half possessions and Teton turned those long drives into a large first-half lead.
Wildcat senior Taylor Bush was explosive in his running throughout the game, but wasn’t getting much assistance until he finally punched in the Wildcats’ lone score of the night in the second half.
Teton will now move into the official 3A Playoff bracket and was seeded seventh. The Redskins will take on Snake River this Saturday.
POCATELLO — It was a cold, but sunny day at the Idaho High School Cross Country Championships.
Kellogg with their boys team was one of the first Wildcat squads to make the trip as a team in more than a decade, while the two individual girls had their eyes on individual glory.
The ladies represented Kellogg in a big way as freshman Lacey Medina placed 13th overall (20:40), and sophomore Shaye Sullivan placed 17th with a time of 20:46.
The 3.1-mile course was fast with many steep, short hills.
The boys team was led by Senior Garrett Miller, who blazed his way to a 24th-place finish with a time of 17:45.
Senior Judson Hall came in 55th place (18:52), junior Dakota Eixenberger 60th (18:58), Ethan Guy was 67th, Levi White 71st, Izayah Jaramillo was 74th, and CO Bergem finished 76th.
Their efforts earned them a 10th place team finish.
Medals were given to the top 20 finishers and the awards to the top four teams.
COEUR d’ALENE — Wallace High School swimmers finished their season at the division 4A district 1 and 2 meet last Wednesday with several school records newly established and a medal earned for a relay team.
Sophomore Dorsey Pearson improved his men’s 200-yard freestyle school record with a sixth-place finish and a time of 2:25.13. He also broke the school record in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 1:01.26 and a ninth-place finish. The previous record of 1:02.04 was set by James Evans in 2014.
Senior Shylynn Rihtarshich finished her high school swim career by establishing a school record in the women’s 200-yard freestyle as the only female swimmer to compete in the event in school history. She finished with a time of 3:20.10.
Other top-eight finishes for the Miners included Junior Will Farkas, who placed seventh in the men’s 100-yard backstroke, and sophomore Teagan Goldade with an eighth-place finish in the men’s 100-yard breaststroke.
Due to disqualification, the Wallace men’s 400-yard relay team comprised of Pearson, Farkas, Jorden McNeil, and Aydin Hazs earned the program’s first district medal in that event by finishing second place.
The men’s 200-yard relay team comprised of Pearson, McNeil, Kody Richardson, and Carter Bailey finished fourth.