Anaconda native to compete at NCAA West Regional


Jacqueline Verlanic will compete in the NCAA West Regional Track and Field Championships starting Thursday, May 25, 2017 in Austin, Texas. PHOTO COURTESY MSU SPORTS INFORMATION


When Jacqueline Verlanic walked off the turf at Van Winkle Stadium in Bozeman her senior year, she knew she had not fulfilled her goals as a prep track and field standout for the Copperheads. Little did she know that coming up short of winning a state championship would lead her to places someone in her shoes has never been before.

Verlanic was an approachable yet shy student-athlete whom everyone enjoyed. Her senior year she was selected as captain of her volleyball, basketball and track and field teams, and her teachers and the administration of Anaconda High school would echo the sentiment of Verlanic being the definition of a stellar student-athlete.

But even though her accomplishments were too big to ignore, she felt a competitive hole inside. Verlanic was attending Montana State University in the fall to chase a degree in elementary education, but she also had visions of continuing her athletic career as well.

“When I walked on to the track team, my coach really liked to train people to be hammer throwers and wants everyone to try it,” Verlanic said. “After a little bit, he thought that would be my best option because of my size.”

Montana State University, track


Being short in stature – Verlanic stands just 5-foot-7 – never stopped this multi-sport athlete as a prep. She was a four-year letter-winner at Anaconda High in track and field, volleyball and basketball. Although she didn’t receive an athletic scholarship to continue her throwing career in college, she enrolled and walked on to the track and field program to see if she could prove the doubters wrong.

There was never a doubt of Verlanic choosing MSU, you can say Bobcat blood runs rampant through her body. Her father, Ken, was a member of the 1976 football National Championship team while her brother, Jimmy, walked-on and became a captain and starting center for the Bobcats. She also had an uncle, Mike Tocher, and cousins Andrew and Connor Verlanic, all play football for the Blue and Gold.

Her brothers’ success as a walk-on definitely inspired her to chase greatness, no matter how big or small the obstacle. In the Verlanic household, whether it was at her home in Anaconda or on the family ranch near Drummond, nothing short of your best would do.

“We learned from an early age how to work hard,” Verlanic said. “It led me here where my coach gave me an opportunity and I took advantage of it. And I’ve been enjoying every minute of it.”

Mike Carignan, who has been with Montana State as an assistant from 1977-1984 and from 1989 until now as coach in a multitude of events, specializes in the throwing sports for both men and women. Through all his time – he’s coached 21 conference shot put champions and 53 individuals in Big Sky championship meets – he considers Verlanic one of the best students and workers he’s ever coached.

“She had to come a long way, but I knew with her family lineage that she had the will and determination to succeed,” Carignan said. “She didn’t come by all of this naturally, she had some real difficult marks to exceed. Had she not done that early in her training, I would have cut her.”


This photo was taken during Verlanic’s senior year at AHS. She still hates it.

Verlanic began as a redshirt in 2013 and full member of the team in 2014. As her indoor weight throw and outdoor hammer form began to take shape, her progress was unmistakable. She began placing in events and as a junior, threw a personal-best 179-06 during the season catapulting her to a fifth-place finish at the Big Sky Championships throwing 175-11.

This season, Verlanic continued her climb to the top. She is now ranked 10th all time at MSU in the weight throw (57-5.5) and after unleashing a personal-best of 194-04, the former walk-on now sits in fourth all-time at MSU in the hammer throw.

Two weeks ago, she parlayed her success into All-Big Sky status by placing third at the conference championships at Sacramento State and now will compete starting Thursday, May 25 at the NCAA West Regional, where only 48 hammer throwers out of the region were invited to participate.

And it’s not just the coaching staff that continues to sound off on the impact Verlanic has had on her team and the university. Long time sports information director William Lamberty said “she’s a great kid, and one of my favorites, same as Jimmy was.”

When posed the question, how does it feel to know you and your brother, forgotten by many after your prep days, have made such a positive impact on that campus, Verlanic was humble but appreciative.

“It makes me feel special, it makes me believe I’ve been doing the right things these past five years and now it’s all finally paying off,” she said.

Verlanic admittedly didn’t perform her best when she had a chance to win a state title in the shot and discus during her junior and senior years. She also says those disappointments have fueled her for this newest challenge – one that developed her into an All Big Sky Conference athlete.

“I definitely would say I choked at state a few times, but I think when I came to college I was mentally stronger because of those disappointments,” Verlanic said.

Carignan didn’t see fragility in Verlanic. He knew he was getting a raw athlete, but he also knew the work ethic from knowing the family lineage.

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Verlanic during a recent event. PHOTO COURTESY MSU SPORTS INFORMATION

“She didn’t know how to not work hard,” Carignan said. “She was open to everything. Sure, I had doubts, but she wasn’t going to fail because of a lack of effort.”

Seeing the intimate beauty of the event – one he waxes poetically about because of its unconventional nature, Carignan is almost Zen-like when describing the mesmerizing event.

“Balance, rhythm, relaxation and confidence is required to become a successful thrower,” Carignan said. “In actuality, the less you do, the farther it goes. It’s a tug of war and you’re the anchor. I’d say one of 10 people are appropriate for learning how to throw the hammer.”

Carignan equates the disposition and coachability of Verlanic as being the main reason she’s become so accomplished in the event.

“It’s a strong instinct to turn your body sideways and pull hard on it, but that doesn’t work,” he said. “She had the wherewithal to be that anchor, someone who could sit back against something and believe it’s going to create more force than pulling on it sideways. What’s odd is you’re actually pushing it and a good thrower can keep the ball in front of you the entire time. Mathematically, in terms of physics, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because the resistance increases from nine pounds to upwards of 200-300 pounds.”

After a career filled with hope and dreams, Verlanic will now compete against the best 48 hammer throwers in the West. She is in Flight 1 and set to throw at 11 a.m.

Early odds are to count the former Copperhead out as she attempts to place in the top-12 and earn an invitation to the NCAA Track and Field Championships June 7-10 at legendary Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Then again, that would just be playing into her favor.

She’s crushed the odds her entire life.

Verlanic is the daughter of Ken and Teresa Verlanic.


Follow the event live here:

Locker Room/Haufbrau run away with second half

Thunder and lightning loomed large Tuesday night, but the most electric thing at the Anaconda Country Club was the play of Locker Room/Haufbrau. The leaders entering the final week dismantled their nearest competition, Carmel’s Sports Bar, by 16 points to win the second half.

The win sets up a championship showdown between first half champions S&N Concrete and Locker Room/Haufbrau next week.

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S&N Concrete takes commanding league lead

A 27.5-point week, on the heels of a 30.5-point performance last week, pushed S&N Concrete ahead of Carmel’s Sports Bar at the ACC Men’s League.

The 121.5 total points gave them a 9.5-point advantage on Carmel’s, who scored just 16.5 on Tuesday, with one week to play. Carmel’s held on to second place by half a point over ACC Pro Shop.

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Carmel’s Sports Bar maintains lead at ACC Men’s League

S&N Concrete had a valiant effort on Tuesday night, putting up a massive score of 30.5 points, but it wasn’t enough to surpass Carmel’s Sports Bar, who still hold the ACC Men’s League lead with 95.5 points through four weeks.

S&N sits in second place with 94, followed by ACC Pro Shop in third with 89.5 points after a 22.5 point week.

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BC completes remarkable comeback, drops Anaconda 10-9 at CYM


Michaela Cortright delivers the pitch during Thursday’s 10-9 loss to Butte Central at Charlotte Yeoman Martin Sports Complex. PHOTO COPYRIGHT CS PHOTO


Down 9-2 after the first, the Maroons showed a championship pedigree in less than ideal playing conditions. Chipping away at the lead coupled with a dominating relief appearance by senior ace Teresa Piazzola led to a remarkable 10-9 nonconference win over archival Anaconda Thursday at Charlotte Yeoman Martin Sports Complex.

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Townsend squeaks by Anaconda at first home dual of season


Anaconda’s Brandon Bisch stacks up Townsend’s Joel Neel en route to a first period pin Thursday night at Memorial Gymnasium. PHOTO COPYRIGHT CS PHOTO

In what was the first of hopefully many in a competitive rivalry on the mat, Townsend edged Anaconda 40-36 in a meeting of 5 and 6B district members Thursday night at Memorial Gymnasium.

Townsend won 5-3 in wrestled matches, all but one by pin, to claim the “Battle of the Copper Shamrock” — a traveling trophy that will hopefully ensure the longevity of the rivalry.


Anaconda 182-pounder Giovanni Molina turns a brutal chin rip into a first-period pin over Justin Large. PHOTO COPYRIGHT CS PHOTO

Anaconda’s Zach Gwin (126), Brandon Bisch (132) and Giovanni Molina (182) all won by pin to lead the Copperhead mat men.


Head coach Joey Casey, back right, and assistant Dustin Hanson talk strategy with Brevlin Thompson during an injury timeout. PHOTO COPYRIGHT CS PHOTO

Townsend got pins from Kameron Rauser (113), Jack Dolan (120), Nate Gallegos (138), Cole Bergsted (145) and Derek Neel (152). Justin Theriault scored a major decision for the Bulldogs with an 11-2 win over Brevlin Thompson at 160.

Anaconda will travel to Bozeman tomorrow for the two day Bozeman Invitational.

Townsend 40, Anaconda 36

103 — Kyle Adams, AHS, won by forfeit. 113 — Kameron Rauser, Town, p. Shawn Scholler, 3:18. 120 — Jack Dolan, Town, p. Dylan Skocolich, 2:47. 126 — Zach Gwin, AHS, Titus Ogle, 4:39. 132 — Brandon Bisch, AHS, p. Joel Neel, 1:02. 138 — Nate Gallegos, Town, p. John Freeze, :23. 145 — Cole Bergsted, Town, p. Brennen Kulaski, 2:59. 152 — Derek Neel, Town p. Connor Crist, :30. 160 — Justin Theriault, Town, dec. Brevlin Thompson, 11-2. 170 — Kyle Spritzer, Town, won by forfeit. 182 — Giovanni Molina, AHS, p. Justin Large, 1:12. 205 — Anthony Barrington, AHS, won by forfeit. HWT — Landon Forsberg, AHS, won by forfeit.


132 — Austin Beibes, Butte Central, p. John Friez, AHS, 1:06. 205 — Colter Stillwagon, Butte Central, p. Anthony Barrington, AHS, :31.

Copperheads steamroll Bulldogs 40-6 in Mission Valley


Braxton Hill picks off the pass of St. Ignatius QB ___ , reverses field and takes it 81 yards to the house during Friday’s 40-6 route in the Mission Valley. PHOTO COPYRIGHT CS PHOTO

ST. IGNATIUS — Have a game Braxton.

Coming into Friday’s matchup, sophomore quarterback Braxton Hill had two passing touchdowns. By the time the final buzzer sounded he equalled that number and added three more scores.

Hill threw for two TDs, ran for two and had a 81-yard interception return for a score as Anaconda thumped the overmatched Bulldogs 40-6 in a 6B District tussle in St. Ignatius.

Now at 2-1 in league play, Anaconda is tied with Deer Lodge for second place in the 6B. Elsewhere in the 6B, Loyola survived beating Ronan 38-30 and Deer Lodge went on the road Saturday afternoon for a 20-0 win in Florence. Loyola is 3-0 in the 6B while Florence and Ronan are tied at 1-2. St. Ignatius is the lone winless team at 0-3.

Anaconda controlled the line of scrimmage, giving Hill time to operate. Hill  completed 10-of-15 for 172 yards with TD passes of 36 yards to junior Chase Reisenauer and 12 to senior Logan Reich with no interceptions. He also capped the first two drives with a 3- and 1-yard TD keeper for Anaconda (3-3, 2-1).

Hill hooked up with Weis four times for 87 yards, Reisenauer caught three passes for 58 yards and senior fullback Sloan Ueland had one reception for 10 yards.

The Copperhead ground game was well short of their season average but given the short fields they were dealing with, the production was there. They rushed for 129 yards on 25 carries led by Weis with 63 yards on five carries. Reisenauer chipped in with 34 yards, Ueland had 18 and Hill scrambled for 14 yards on seven carries.

Defensively, Nick Durglo and the Bulldogs couldn’t sustain any offense. Anaconda limited the junior QB to 2-of-11 passing for 63 yards — 60 of which came on a broken play leading 40-0 in the fourth — with interceptions by Hill and Reich and 106 yards rushing.

Now, Anaconda looks towards two home games to end the season with the playoffs in their grasp. They host Florence next week followed by Deer Lodge for Senior Parents Night the following Friday. With two-straight wins they can finish no worse than second in the 6B.

Anacona 40, St. Ignatius 6

Anaconda 14 14 12 0 — 40
St. Ignatius 0 0 0 6 – 6

Ana – Braxton Hill 3 run (run failed)
Ana – Hill 1 run (Kaden Weis run)
Ana – Weis 8 run (Ricco Ungaretti run)
Ana – Hill 81-yard INT RET (pass failed)
Ana – Chase Reisenauer 36 pass from Hill (run failed)
Ana – Logan Reich 12 pass from Hill (run failed)
Mis – Nick Durglo 1 run (run failed)

PASSING — Ana: Braxton Hill 10-15-172-2-0; Mis: Nick Durglo 2-11-63-0-2.

RECEIVING — Ana: Weis 4-87, Reisenauer 3-58, Reich 2-17, Sloan Ueland 1-10; Mis: Andrew Esslinger 1-60, Kaleb Durglo 1-3.

RUSHING — Ana (25-129): Weis 5-63, Reisenauer 10-34, Hill 7-14, Ueland 3-18; Mis (36-106): Israel Umphrey 15-53, Benton Adams 7-8, N. Durglo 8-42, K. Durglo 5-2, Esslinger 1-2.

Mia Estes follows in her family’s footsteps, but leaves her own mark


Mia Estes throws the javelin at Utah State during the 2015 spring season. PHOTO COURTESY UTAH STATE SPORTS INFORMATION


Enter the hallways of the Memorial Gymnasium in Anaconda and you are instantly submerged into a history lesson. The hallway inside the front doors is home to all of Anaconda’s achievements in sport, with trophies over a century old peering at you from behind glass.

Make a right turn, and you start to see pictures of Anaconda’s best. The individuals lucky enough to have earned their place in history as State Champions get their own case. If you look hard enough, something becomes immediately clear: the Estes family stands above all in Anaconda.

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Carmel’s Sports Bar fights off ACC Pro Shop in league championship


Pat Huber, Jim “Bird” Solan, Sean Schulte, Jerry Arneson and Roger Walker of Carmel’s Sports Bar won the 2015 ACC Men’s League championship 22-18 over ACC Pro Shop. PHOTO COPYRIGHT CS PHOTO

The stage was set for two champions to clash Tuesday night at the Anaconda Country Club. Carmel’s Sports Bar, winners of the first half of the season, faced off against second-half champion ACC Pro Shop to decide the league.

In one of the closest battles of the night, Carmel’s Sports Bar stole the crown with a 21-19 victory. The two foursomes were both separated by just a single point.

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Anaconda’s ‘how to’ on celebrating athletic excellence


Jessica Massey, left, and her mother and father Ethel and Rick, ride through the streets of Anaconda in celebration of her Gold Medal-winning performance during the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in LA. PHOTO COPYRIGHT CS PHOTO

Commentary by Blake Hempstead

On Tuesday, Anaconda again showed how much they love their athletes.

Jessica Massey, a Special Olympian kayaker for Team USA, was given the parade and serenade to end them all during an afternoon ride through the streets of her hometown in celebration of a Gold Medal performance last week at the 2015 World Games last week in Los Angeles. Continue reading