FAIRFIELD — In 14 seasons at Fairfield, Dustin Gordon led the Eagles girls basketball team to seven state titles, 295 wins, and a state-record 120 victories in a row spanning five seasons.
But Gordon stepped down in the offseason when he was named the superintendent of Fairfield schools. Stepping in for the legend is another legend. Travis Schenk takes the reins of the program entering 2021.
“I've got a great relationship with Dustin. We still communicate a lot and it's been as seamless a transition as it could be,” Schenk said.
Schenk played for Fairfield in the 1990s when the Eagles won a handful of state titles under head coach and Montana Coaches Association Hall of Famer Dean Gamradt. Schenk then led the boys program from 2004-2011, leading the Eagles to one state title in three championship appearances.
He’s been helping with the elementary teams for the past few years but is excited about a return to the prep bench where he hopes to maintain the level of success that Fairfield is used to.
“It starts in practice here working our butts off and making sure we're taking care of business,” Schenk said. “Then putting it all out there on the court and seeing what happens.”
Schenk inherits a talented squad that won a District 1B title in 2020 and returned several talented upperclassmen like Cheyenne Maddox, Madison Rosenbaum and Kyler Bake.
“I feel like (coach Schenk) really understands the dynamic of our team and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Maddox said. “And I feel like it's really fitting well with the personalities that we have. It is a change, but it's a good change and we're all just embracing it.”
The Fairfield boys, meanwhile, enter the season in a very different position. The Eagles advanced to the Class B state title game in March, only to see the tournament called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and be named co-champs with Lodge Grass.
Despite taking home a trophy, the way the season ended was a gut punch.
“Being able to make it to state chipper and then figuring out that we can't play, it was devastating for all of us,” said senior post Brayden Kolwyck. “But we're grateful that we get a banner up on the wall. It's an awesome feeling.”
The Eagles only lost two seniors, albeit talented ones. Keeley Bake was among the most valuable players in Class B a season ago but is now playing at Montana Tech. But Fairfield returns a bevy of athletes who are coming off a run to an appearance in the State B football championship.
Players like Gavin Mills, Conor Murray, Guidry Giles and Daniel Faith are back to make another deep run under fourth-year head coach Jordan Ratliff. And the saying goes, players may graduate but tradition doesn’t.
“I just have incredible kids. We’ve been very successful with extracurricular things, as students, and staying eligible, which is the most important part,” Ratliff said. “And then just success on the court. We play as a team, we play as a unit. We don’t have any one star.”
Fairfield opens the season Jan. 5 at Shelby.