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Glacier Range Riders host Sapa-Johnsrud Invitational high school baseball tournament

Bigfork celebrating.jpg
Posted at 12:46 PM, May 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-13 14:54:54-04

KALISPELL — The Glacier Range Riders have been heavily involved in the Flathead Valley community ever since being founded in 2021. And the Pioneer League baseball team continued to extend that outreach by hosting the Sapa-Johnsrud Invitational high school baseball tournament for the first time May 10-11.
 
"Part of the mission of this entire build and idea from day one was the growth of baseball in the youth of the community out here," said Range Riders vice president Leo Kelly. "So getting to realize that and just going into our third season is a pretty special thing, and we couldn't have done it without the help of Columbia Falls High School athletic department and Whitefish High School."

The tournament held at Glacier Bank Park included 12 total teams from western Montana: Eureka, Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Frenchtown, Polson, Troy, Bigfork, Ronan, Browning, Stevensville, Thompson Falls and Corvallis.
 
Among those 12 teams the youth impact was felt by many families, especially one Columbia Falls resident who came out to watch two of his grandsons play at the minor league ballpark.

"It’s really fun," said Steve Weaver. "They both are into it and it's really fun to come down to this park to play tonight."
 
Family members, and other fans in attendance, weren’t the only ones enjoying the event, as players from all 12 teams participating soaked in the experience as well.
 
"Oh, we've played in the (Missoula) PaddleHeads (stadium), but it's not nearly as nice, man," said Corvallis High School senior Andrew Pintok. "I don't think I'll ever play on something like this again, so I feel grateful."

 As for how it felt playing in a professional ballpark in Pintok’s first-ever high school baseball tournament:

"Just the competitive spirit, you know, stoke is high, everyone's getting after it," Pintok said with a smile. "Chirping a little bit, and it's just, you know, teamwork, effort, everyone's feeding off of each other, so it's great."

With the first-ever non-Range Rider event being hosted by the club looking like a success, the organization hopes and plans to host more similar events for the community in the future.