BILLINGS - The Midland Roundtable announces its male and female Athlete of the Year winners for Billings Wednesday night. Nominees were announced two weeks ago.
Each graduating senior has outstanding high school credentials. But numbers aside, here's some insight on the personality of each male finalist starting with Billings Central’s Marcus Wittman remembering his first taste of the gridiron at the Mighty Mite level.
Marcus Wittman: "I remember my first play when I started playing football. My dad was the coach, he called a bootleg because I was playing quarterback, he called it for me and I ran it for a touchdown. Ever since then I’ve been in love with football. Just like (age) six or seven, so yeah, it’s been a while."
Junior Bergen - Billings Senior football, basketball, track: "Switching from the Cats the Griz (for football), how excited you are and what went into that decision? It was really just a coaching switch. I fell in love with those coaches early and now they’ve kind of parted ways. It kind of changed my decision and now I’m excited for what’s next, I can’t wait. Me and (former Senior standout) Gabe (Sulser/Griz WR) talk like every day, and then a bunch of those guys, we talk. Yeah I’m pretty good friends with all those guys."
Neil Daily - Billings West football, basketball, track: "I’m really looking forward to the next step. It’s just one of those things that you think about that’s coming sooner than I ever imagined. Graduation is coming up and then straight football at MSU. Which actually I’m getting a little nervous for because you just look at the speed is so much different there. I’m hoping to make an impact as soon as I can, but I’m also trying not to start too early and ruin it for myself by just getting absolutely pounded in there."
Jacksen Burckley - Billings Senior basketball, football: "I guess basketball usually came to me naturally but I used to get pushed around a lot. You know I played a couple years up With a couple of my friends who are older so I used to get thrown around a lot. I used to play the two guard so. Me and my brother used to always get into it playing in the front yard. Get mad at each other, start throwing the ball at each other. (It usually) ended in him running away to my mom and me chasing him.”
Thomas Klepps - Billings Senior wrestling, football: "I was always actually terrible at it (wrestling). Until middle school, like in seventh grade (I was) 1-32 every season. That was my record most of the time like 1-and-30s. But I still liked it and I remember my parents being like, you can quit, it’s OK. You’ve tried really hard. And I was like, no I’ll stay with her and then I started getting good. But I don’t know why I like it so much, but I was always pretty passionate about it and then it finally clicked. But it’s always been my favorite, I guess.”
MTN Sports' quick hits with this year's female finalists can be seen here.