In a decade of dominance in north Kalispell, Glacier has seen very few athletes combine the type of multi-sport excellence that Nikki Krueger displayed during her senior season.
Earning all-state honors in three sports, Krueger led the Wolfpack to its best ever finishes in both volleyball and track while helping a young basketball team under a new coach find its confidence, beating their crosstown rivals for a spot in the state tournament.
“Her leadership, her will to compete every day— whether it was practice or a game — and certainly her ability were big,” Glacier girls basketball coach Bill Sullivan said. “She’s the person that had the most experience coming back and she led through that experience and had a great year for us.”
The third sister from a competitive household, Nikki said she got the drive to play multiple sports by watching her older sisters Cassie and Tessa dominate at Flathead and Glacier.
“I wanted to follow my sisters,” Krueger said. “I spent so much time watching them play volleyball, then they started doing track. I just wanted to do that too.”
That family competition instilled a boisterous style of play that was high on energy and emotion.
“I feel like if I play with emotion than I can get the whole team going,” Krueger said. “If I can get the whole team going, than we’re going to be just fine. I really base a lot of my leadership off my emotions and carrying the team that way.”
This fall, Nikki was the driving force on the Glacier volleyball team, leading the Wolfpack to its deepest run in state history. She led the team in kills and played nearly every serve while helping Glacier to a third place finish at the Class AA state tournament.
“I thought that we could’ve played in the championship, but everything doesn’t work out the way that you want,” Krueger said.
“I wasn’t going to go down without a trophy this year.”
She carried that momentum into basketball season, where she was one of three players in Class AA to average at least 12 points and 8 rebounds last season.
That dominance drew a lot of attention, and double teams from opposing defenses attempting to force the young Wolfpack to attack them in any other way. She found a way around that, developing an outside shot to supplement her strength in the paint to draw the lane open for her teammates.
“I knew it was the only way I was going to survive this season,” Krueger said.
That drive to excel was piqued after a late season loss to crosstown rival Flathead, the first loss in the rivalry for Glacier in seven years. The Wolfpack got a second chance against the Bravettes in a state play-in game and didn’t miss the opportunity for redemption.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had that much adrenaline in my life,” Krueger said. “We went into the game saying we were just going to shoot and if we don’t make it we’ll rebound it and put it in. We’re winning this game, no matter what.”
Krueger had 13 points in the first half as Glacier pulled away to a 10-point halftime lead. She finished with a game-high 19 points to get the Wolfpack back to the state tournament for the first time in two years. They lost a pair of close games at state but proved they belonged, nearly topping top-seeded Bozeman in the first round.
She was dominant in track season, winning the shot put and discus events in nearly every meet she competed in before the state tournament. The defending state discus champion she finished third at state but dominated the shot put, winning the state championship by more than two feet.
“Honestly, going into the season, I just wanted to hit 40 (feet in the shot put) and I’d be happy,” Krueger said. “Once I hit that 41, I had to hit 42. I hit 42, beat my sister’s (Tessa’s) record and I was good. Discus I got Tessa’s record also. That’s all I need.”
She set school records in both reaching 42 feet, 1.5 inches in shot put at the state tournament and 128-9 in the discus.
The drive that took her to the top of three sports the last four years earned Krueger a spot on two teams at Carroll College. While undecided on a major, she starts in Helena later this month working with the Saints’ track and basketball teams to get ready for the season.
“I’m not dropping all three sports just to play one,” Krueger said. “I can’t do it.”
If the next few years are anything like the last one, she’ll keep dominating at the next level too.
“She’s always focused,” Sullivan said. “She’s got a drive to compete at a high level, regardless of who she’s competing against.”