Stellar year for Hardin sports

Bulldogs bring home three states championships in 2018
Thursday, January 3, 2019

Photo by Holly Nedens

Hardin’s Lady Bulldog cross-country team has won its third state title in a row. The last time a Hardin team won three straight titles was for volleyball from 1993-95. The Ladies earned a final score of 56, a 17-point lead over second place Whitefish. Three Lady Bulldogs took home All-State honors: Khylah Two Leggins, Libby Nedens and Marion Hugs. Pictured from the left are Hannah Mark, Azalea Torralba, Libby Nedens, Journey Erickson, Khylah Two Leggins, Marion Hugs, Toni Wolfname and Latisha Not Afraid. Not pictured is Ivery Fritzler, the Bulldogs’ No. 5 runner who was at the hospital after taking a fall near the finish line. According to Head Coach Cindy Farmer, she checked out okay.

Photo by Julie O’Dell

Hardin boys’ basketball players, coaches and managers display their winning bracket and plaque after taking first place in Class A. Pictured from the left – back row: Assistant Coaches Mike Don’t Mix and Justin Hugs; third row: Ra’el Monroy, Aminna Little Light, Shaunita Nomee, Head Coach Andrew Roundface, Andrew House and Mike Don’t Mix Jr.; second row: Peyton Good Luck, Teivon Ramos, Konnolly Shane, Ezekiel Coyote Runs, Ryan Old Crow and Malik Toure; and front row: David Evans, Tavian Jefferson, Codi Small, Famous Left Hand, Cayden Redfield and Trae Hugs.

Photos by Jim Eshleman

Seniors Bryce Roan (top) and Justin Zier (bottom) are Montana Class A state wrestling champions. Roan at 152 and Zier at 182 both won their championship matches Saturday afternoon at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings. Roan pinned Parker Adler of Polson in 5:24 and Zier pinned Wyatt Blythe of Lewistown 2:23. This is the first time in 13 years that the Hardin Bulldog wrestling team has had two state champions in one season.

Photo by Mike Flamm

The Bulldog boys’ tennis team holds up a championship trophy after it was part of a three-way tie for first place with Corvallis and Whitefish at the state Class A tournament. Pictured from the left are Famous Left Hand, Ben Noteboom, Ryan Old Crow, Jonathan Noteboom, Caleb Mason, Jace Guptill and Gabe Passes. Not pictured is David Evans.

2018 was quite a year for the Hardin Bulldogs as they brought home three Class A state team championships and had two wrestlers crowned state champions as well.

After researching it, this may be the first time Hardin High School won three state championships in one year.

Boys’ basketball, boys’ tennis and girls’ cross-country all brought home the wood.

“It took a lot of hard work from the athletes, student body, coaches and community to make this happen,” Hardin’s Athletic Director Mike Erickson said of the teams’ championships. Once teams push for success, he added, “Winning is contagious.”

Wrestling

Victories began in February with the wrestling team, when both Bryce Roan and Justin Zier brought home state championships. Roan wrestled at 152 and Zier 182.

The last time Hardin took home two state champions in the sport was 2005.

Both Roan and Zier won their matches with pins.

“Roan came into the final match a very confident wrestler,” the team’s Head Coach Travis Krieger said. “In terms of Zier, he did what he did all season. Just destroyed his opponents…He left no doubt about it. He was not going to be denied.”

Boys’ basketball

Hardin’s boys’ basketball team, in March, won the Class A state championship for the first time in 21 years.

It was only fitting the team’s final match for its 2017-18 season be played against the Billings Central Rams, team Head Coach Andrew Roundface said, as they were the one team who had claimed a victory against the Bulldogs. Even then, that match-up went into double overtime.

Earlier that season, Hardin defeated Billings Central in triple overtime.

“I knew it was going to be a hard-fought game,” Roundface said. “I knew we’d meet them somewhere down the road.”

Hardin was off to a slow start at the final game for the state championship, but fought back from a 13-2 first-quarter deficit and narrowed Central’s lead to only two points going into the half.

“A lot of teams would fold underneath that kind of pressure, being down that much in the first couple minutes of the championship game,” Roundface said. “Kids usually lose their head, and then it’s even harder to fight back, but the boys kept their heads in it. “For us to only be down [two points] at halftime really says a lot about our character.”

The Bulldogs defeated Central 47-43.

Boys’ tennis

The second state championship for Hardin came in May when the boys’ tennis team brought home their first-ever Class A state trophy. The boys took first with Corvallis and Whitefish overall in a three-way tie.

“Our kids did great,” team Head Coach Mike Flamm said. “They just kept fighting.”

One of Flamm’s players in particular, Jonathan Noteboom, needed to adjust quickly to take second in the doubles championship. Praising Noteboom, Flamm called him “one of the best tennis players in Class A in the state.”

Flamm had paired Noteboom with sophomore Caleb Mason, who was not his normal doubles partner.

“Mason was nervous. Dillon was beating us,” Flamm said of one game. “Then Noteboom took over.”

It was a tough match, but Noteboom and Mason pulled out the victory.

In the semifinals against Butte Central, Flamm said, “Mason played so well.”

“I thought I may have thrown it away (the state championship) pairing Noteboom and Mason,” he said. “I give those kids so much credit.”

Girls’ cross-country

While taking a Class A state championship is tough, what the Lady Bulldogs’ cross-country team did was record breaking: The Ladies, in October, won their third state championship in a row.

The last time Hardin claimed three back-to-back titles was when the Lady Bulldog volleyball team took state every year from 1993-95.

“It was all about the team,” cross-country Head Coach Cindy Farmer said. “They trusted each other and that’s what set them apart. I’m just thrilled for them.”

Khylah Two Leggins, who placed third overall with a time of 19:32, was first for Hardin across the finish line. Libby Nedens followed with a time of 19:48 for a fifth place finish overall.

Third in for the Ladies was Marion Hugs, who placed ninth overall with a time of 20:08.

Journey Erickson, who placed 16th overall, was Hardin’s fourth runner with a time of 20:43. Ivery Fritzler, the Ladies’ fifth runner, fell down during the race, but pushed herself back up for a time of 21:22 and a 23rd place finish overall. She recovered afterwards at a Missoula hospital.

Sixth in were Azalea Torralba, 37th overall, and Toni Wolfname at 53rd.

Two Leggins, Nedens and Hugs earned All-State honors.

Overview

While taking home three state championships and two individual state championships in wrestling shows Bulldog success, other Hardin teams put forth strong efforts as well.

The Lady Bulldog basketball team ended the year with a second place state trophy – losing only to Havre in the final round. The girls’ tennis team also brought home a second place trophy.

Continuing into October, the Bulldogs were not done yet, with the boys’ cross-country team taking second place at state. At the beginning of the season, Farmer noted, no one outside of Hardin expected the boys to compete at that level.

“I knew they would surprise people,” she said. “Second place at state is a big accomplishment and I’m proud of them.”

Hardin coaches have provided strong leadership for their students, Athletic Director Erickson said, “and our kids are buying into it.”

He has noticed “a direct correlation,” he added, “between academics and sports.”

In the Bulldog tradition, 2019 looks to be shaping up to be another good year. So far this season, the boys’ basketball team is undefeated and making another state run. The girls, with only one loss, maintain a strong record as well.

The wrestling team is young this season, but anything can happen at state. Hardin again will be competitive in tennis and track, and next fall both cross-country teams will be in contention for state titles.

2019 just might be the year of the Bulldog.

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