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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.

Golfers take fourth in Lander invite

Finishing with one of their best days in years, the Powell High School boys golf team took fourth at last week's Lander Invitational.

“We had a very good weekend on probably the most challenging course we play all year,” said PHS head coach Troy Hildebrand of the Thursday-Friday tournament.

NWC soccer: Vision becomes reality


Northwest College goalie Becca Sangster stretches for a ball during Tuesday afternoon drills. Sangster and her 17 teammates will officially usher in soccer as a sport at NWC when they face Dodge City (Kan.) this Friday. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

NWC soccer teams open Friday at Dodge City

What began as a vision on paper just eight months ago will step onto the pitch in the flesh this Friday as the Northwest College Trappers open their first-ever soccer seasons. The program was created last December by a vote of the Northwest College Board of Trustees.

“It feels like it has been a long time coming,” said Trapper soccer coach Rob Hill, whose life has actually been more of a whirlwind since learning early this year that he had been tabbed to build the Northwest College programs from the ground up.

Panther cross country: Paper tigers

Panthers have talent to roar in 2010 cross country

There are certainly worse people to be this autumn than head Powell High School cross country coach Cliff Boos. The Panthers return four of the 18 fastest female runners in Class 3A, as well as five of their seven state meet runners on the boys' side last season.

“We've got a nice nucleus,” said Boos. “Overall, I think the team is in reasonably good shape to begin the year. They're showing good enthusiasm and doing a good job of supporting each other. It's a hard-working bunch.”

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