Saturday Apr. 19, 2014
Sports Across Montana

This has been a winter of extraordinary weather patterns and snowfalls. This season, more snow fell in Detroit and Chicago than they have had since 1884. The surf in Southern California was estimated at over 25 feet recently to the delight of every surfer within 100 miles of the coast.

Early last October, Crystal Mountain, about 75 miles southeast of Seattle, was open for skiing. Until early March the snowfall was below normal, but since then it has snowed heavily. So much that in late March a massive avalanche wiped out an entire chairlift.
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Snowpack along the North Fork Flathead River drainage. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

 The abundant winter that caused near-record snowpack across Montana is making a troublesome transition to spring. Rapid snowmelt is leading to widespread flooding and ice jams in rivers and streams, prompting the governor to seek a presidential disaster declaration.

As seasonal temperatures begin melting unusually high levels of snow in the mountains, Gov. Steve Bullock last week asked the White House to issue a federal disaster declaration for Montana. The declaration would provide additional resources for cleanup and recovery from worsening flooding that is already damaging roads, bridges and other public infrastructure.
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Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

An osprey flies away from Dry Bridge Pond Thursday after a successful morning of fishing. With the help of a group of fourth-graders from Cornelius Hedges Elementary School, the pond was recently stocked with thousands of trout from fish hatcheries in Creston, Eureka and Arlee. Click here to view photos of kids stocking the pond.
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Struggling with persistent low enrollment, Libby High School’s sports teams, except soccer, will be moving to Class B in the 2015-16 school year.

The Libby School District board of trustees voted 5-2 Monday night to approve the transition from Class A despite a majority of administrators, coaches and students wanting to remain in the higher classification of athletic competition.

“The board felt strongly that they don’t see our numbers getting better and that this was the right move,” said Jim Germany, principal at Libby High School.

The Montana High School Association has determined the enrollment range for Class B schools to be 120-399 students. Class A enrollment ranges from 340 to 825 students.

Libby had a fall enrollment of 348 students and a spring enrollment of 338, making the school one of the smallest in Class A. Projections for the next few years show the school will remain around 340-350 students, Germany said.

Despite that, Germany said nine of the 13 coaches at the high school were in favor of remaining in Class A and 65 percent of students wanted to stay in the higher ranks. School administrators recommended staying in Class A to the school board.

The boys and girls soccer teams will remain in Class A competition similar to Bigfork.

The move will shake up the Northwestern A conference in an uncertain way while Libby will join District 7B, home to Eureka, Thompson Falls, Bigfork, Troy and Plains. Northwestern A is now left with only four teams: Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Frenchtown and Polson.

Libby’s move to the Class B ranks marks the second school in the state to have gone from competing in Class AA at one point to now dropping two classifications; Anaconda’s school board voted 6-1 earlier this month to drop to Class B.

Libby moved from Class AA to Class A in 1987.

Glendive, another small Class A school, opted to avoid the move to Class B.
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Rainbow trout don’t belong here. Still, I just can’t seem to quit them.

Rainbows may be the most popular gamefish in the Rocky Mountain region, but other than the upper northwest corner of Montana, where the state is nicked by the Kootenai River, this is westslope and Yellowstone cutthroat country.
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Beacon file photo

When Kyle Samson was an all-state senior quarterback at Helena Capital, one of the hardest teams he had to face was the Flathead Braves.

Now Samson is returning to Kalispell to rebuild the Braves into the powerhouse he remembers.

Samson, a former Montana Gatorade Player of the Year with seven years of coaching experience in the college ranks, has been selected as the next head football coach at Flathead High School.

Activities Director Bryce Wilson confirmed late Monday that Samson accepted the offer after emerging as the top candidate among three other finalists and 13 total applicants.

"As a player I remember how tough it was to play up in Kalispell. Back then it was always us and Kalispell and CMR and Billings West competing for a state title," Samson told the Beacon. "That's my goal: I want to bring back that tradition of Flathead being one of the top AA schools in the state."

A nine-person committee selected Samson after a series of interviews with finalists last weekend and will recommend him to the Kalispell School District board of trustees to finalize the hire.

Samson, 29, will replace Russell McCarvel, who resigned last month after seven seasons.

The Braves were 3-7 last year and have accrued a 23-50 record since 2007.

Samson has served on the football staff at MSU-Northern in Havre for seven years, including the past six years as the team's offensive coordinator under his father Mark, the team's head coach. Samson was Northern’s starting QB from 2004 -2006 and a three-year captain after transferring from the University of Montana, where he played as a true freshman.

At Helena Capital, he was the Montana Gatorade Player of the Year in 2002. As a senior quarterback, he passed for 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 1,200 yards and another 17 TDs. He guided the Bruins past the Braves in the semifinal round of the Class AA playoffs and eventually cap an undefeated state champion season. He was also a standout basketball player and track athlete at Helena Capital and maintained a 3.6 GPA.

Samson said the opportunity to become a head coach appealed to him, especially at a school like Flathead that has such a rich tradition.

"Growing up in a coaching family with my dad and my grandfather being coaches, I've always wanted to be a head coach. That's been a long goal of mine," he said. "When the Kalispell job opened up — it's a school with a great tradition and I've always had great respect for them and how they ran their program — I couldn't pass up on that opportunity."

Samson said he plans to assemble his coaching staff in the next few weeks and hopes to be fully established in Kalispell by June. He and his wife have a young son and daughter and he plans to teach at the high school.

As far as what fans and players should expect to see on the field, Samson said his system is best described as a "power spread," featuring multiple schemes that are quarterback-based, similar to the high-octane teams he played for at Capital. But it will also depend on personnel, he said, and he looks forward to meeting the players and adapting to their skills.

"I can't wait to get over there and get going to work," he said.
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Joe Pistorese. Beacon file photo

Washington State University junior Joe Pistorese was named the Pac-12 Conference Pitcher of the Week for April 7-13, conference commissioner Larry Scott announced Monday.

Pistorese pitched his second-straight complete game in Washington State’s 4-1 win over No. 5 Oregon State, April 11. He outdueled OSU’s Ben Wetzler, who entered the contest with a 6-0 record and 0.38 ERA.

A native of Kalispell and former standout ace for the Kalispell Lakers, Pistorese limited the Beavers to four hits while striking out four. He became the first Cougar to throw back-to-back complete games since Adam Conley in 2011 and the first to have three complete games in a season since Chad Arnold in 2010.

This is Pistorese’s first-career Pac-12 Pitcher of the week honor and the 34th all-time for Washington State. In combination with WSU junior Yale Rosen’s Pac-12 Player of the Week honor for March 31-April 6, this marks the first time since 1996 that two Cougars have won back-to-back conference weekly honors. In 1996, Jim Horner (Player), Jered Fowler (Player) and Robert Ramsay (Pitcher) earned the awards in three consecutive weeks.

The Cougars are 16-16, 7-5 Pac-12 and tied with UCLA and Oregon for fourth in the conference standings. Washington leads the Pac-12 with a 12-3 conference record followed by Oregon State at 11-4 and Arizona State at 9-6.

RELATED: Big League Prospects
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