By George Ferguson
This weekend will signal the end of the regular season for the Havre High wrestling team. It will be the Ponies final preparations before they hit the mat for tournament time. Those preparations begin tonight when the Ponies host both the CMR Rustlers and Great Falls High Bison for a pair of non-conference duals.
Havre will also travel to Conrad on Saturday night to face the Class B powerhouse Conrad Cowboys in a dual.
The Ponies come into tonight's matches with a solid 13-3 record in dual matches. Havre is coming off of a 5-1 dual record this past weekend at the Class A Duals in Belgrade. Havre's only loss over the weekend came against a very good Hardin Bulldog team on Saturday afternoon.
Tonight's duals against the Class AA schools from Great Falls will be a solid test for the Ponies. The Bison are ranked among the top five in Class AA and the Rustlers are also having a solid season.
While Havre head coach Scott Filius thinks that tonight's matches will be good experience for his young wrestlers, he is hoping his team will just come through unharmed before next week's Central A Divisional.
"Typically this weekend has been a great warmup for divisionals," Filius said. "But tonight, I am just hoping the kids wrestle well and keep their confidence up because both teams are very solid."
The Bison boast a team of very solid wrestlers including freshmen sensation Kody Tolliver. Tolliver has just one loss on his resume this season at 112 pounds which came from Havre junior Jeff Hedges, who knocked Tolliver off at the Havre Invitational in early December. Since that time Tolliver has bounced back to knock Hedges off in Butte and in the finals of the CMR Holiday Classic. This will be their fourth and final match of the year and Filius said it should be the match of the night.
"Jeff and Kody's match should be really exciting," Filius said. "Other than that the matches with Great Falls High aren't very even. Either they should win by pin or we should win by pin."
The dual with the Rustlers should be more evenly matched across the board according to Filius.
"The dual with CMR should be a pretty exciting one," Filius said. "They have a couple of tough guys at 189 and heavyweight, but we should be able to give them a good match."
With just one week left in the regular season, Filius admits that his team is still a little inconsistent at times, but he also feels like they are wrestling right to their capabilities.
"Gray Chagnon and Greg Leyba wrestled really well last weekend," Filius said. "But we are going to need some more effort out of our seniors this weekend and at the divisional tournament."
Tonight the Havre lineup will include Chagnon at 98 pounds and Hedges at 112. Scott Sheppard will go at 119, Josh Landgraff at 125, Michael Sutherland at 130 and Leyba at 135 pounds. Chad Zuelke will go for the Ponies at 140 and Rick Griffis returns for Havre at 145 pounds. Daine Solomon is at 152, Guy Seely at 160 and brother Chad at 171. Nick Johnson will wrestle at 189 pounds and Bill Zuelke will be at heavyweight.
The dual with the Bison is at 4 p.m., while CMR and Havre will hit the mat at 7 p.m. at the Havre High gymnasium. Havre will take on Conrad at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday in Conrad.