Valkyries victorious at Libby Homecoming matchup

by JEREMY WEBER
For the Eagle | October 7, 2020 2:50 AM

COVID-19 continued to take its toll on Bigfork High School sports last week as several teams were forced to compete without key players while the volleyball squad’s season continued its two-week hiatus. The football team had a bye this week.

SOCCER

The Valkyries overcame a last-minute lineup change to pick up a much-needed win in Libby Friday, spoiling the Lady Loggers Homecoming with a 2-1 victory.

Starting keeper Catherine Panor and center back Danika Bucklin were pulled from the bus and put into quarantine as the team prepared to leave for Libby, leaving head coach Tim Guenzler scrambling to create a new lineup.

“It was a bit of a shock to me and the rest of the team, especially in a game we had to win to keep our playoff hopes alive,” Guenzler said. “We are in limbo right now. We want to keep everyone safe, but we also want to get out there and play. It’s a crazy situation and we dealt with it as best we could.”

With many players forced to play out of their normal positions and sophomore Scout Nadeau making seeing her first time in the goal this season, the Valkyries responded to the challenge, despite a large home crowd for Libby’s Homecoming.

Callie Gembala gave the Valkyries an early lead with an unassisted goal in the game’s 18th minute, but the Lady Loggers responded with a goal to tie the game at one before the half.

After a back and forth battle in the second half, Brette Guenzler gave the Valkyries the lead for good with a goal in the 78th minute on an assist from Anika Ransom.

Nadeau kept Libby off the scoreboard in the second half, finishing with nine saves as Bigfork outshot the Lady Loggers in the contest, 29-13.

“I am very proud of my team. We are young and to have something happen like losing two starters right before the game is tough to overcome. There were some tears but the whole team responded and it was really neat to see them all pull together to get the win,” coach Guenzler said. “We did what we had to do to get it done.”

In boys action, Ben Pilskalns recorded another hat trick as the Vikings blew out the Loggers 9-0.

Bigfork also got goals from Dax Stone, Jerry Pilskalns, Mark Whitney, Chayton Troesh-Worrell, Levi Peterson and Caden Riedesel.

Both squads were scheduled to face Polson Tuesday, but the game was in question due to Polson quarantine concern. Bigfork will take on Columbia Falls at home Saturday with the boys at noon.

CROSS COUNTRY

Quarantines had the Vikings cross country squad down to three runners Friday as Bigfork hosted Cut Bank for a dual meet at the Saddlehorn Community.

Despite the small squad, Bigfork’s runners had a strong showing, coming in second, third and fourth on the tough course.

“The team is doing well, but we are dealing with quarantines just like everyone else. We have a few runners out and we are a small team to begin with,” head coach Beau Wielkoszewski said. “We continue to do well. We have kids progressing the way we would like them to and getting the times we had them shooting for at this point of the season. I expect that the kids will be hitting their best marks of the season either this week or next week.”

Freshman Colton Ballard had the top finish for the Vikings, coming in second with a time of 20:35 while senior Shelton Woll was third at 22:10 and junior Colton Wroble was fourth at 22:42.

For the girls runners, Tabitha Raymond was the only Valkyrie in action, but she earned first place with a time of 26:03.

The Bigfork runners will be at Arlee Thursday for their final warmup before Divisionals at Thompson Falls Tuesday. The Vikings have already seen success in Thompson Falls this season, setting several personal best times there Sept. 24.

“We have already run that course and did very well. Four of my five boys runners got personal bests on that course last time, so we are right where we want to be,” Wielkoszewski said.

If all of his runners return from quarantine this week, Wielkoszewski has high hopes for divisionals.

“I know it’s all about contact tracing and they are doing what needs to be done, but it is a big deal for us when my boys have a chance of placing second or third at divisionals and if I lose one boy, then we can’t even place at all as a team,” Wielkoszewski said. “Let’s just hope everyone is healthy and ready to run.”