By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ firstname.lastname@example.org
One grueling weekend down and another one coming up.
Such is the life of the Havre High wrestling team as it prepares to head to Great Falls for the annual CMR Holiday Classic, which gets under way Friday morning at the CMR Fieldhouse.
The Blue Ponies are coming off of a very successful 6-3 weekend at the always-tough Mining City Duals in Butte. Included in those six wins was a very satisfying dual win over defending Class B-C state champion Conrad.
The Ponies will now turn from the dual format of the Mining City tournament to the individual competition of the prestigious CMR Holiday Classic. The CMR tourney has been a staple on Havre's schedule for years and Blue Pony head coach Scott Filius is looking forward to returning to Great Falls with his talented young team.
"This is a great tournament with great competition," Filius said. "Last weekend was a great experience for our kids and now we are going to expect some of the younger kids to start looking to place at these tournaments.
"Realistically, we should have at least three wrestlers in the finals this weekend," Filius added. "But if all of our kids wrestle to their capabilities, we could have five or six kids in the finals."
When the season began the Blue Pony wrestling team was unranked, and because of all the new faces Filius wasn't sure what kind of team he had this season.
But with their recent performances, the Ponies are ranked seventh in the latest Class A power poll and Filius has a much better idea just what kind of team he will have, not only in Great Falls this weekend, but for the rest of the 2003-04.
"This is as intense and hard-working group of kids from top to bottom that I have had in a long time," Filius said. "These kids are focused and determined right now, and they are wrestling well."
The tournament in Great Falls will be another major test for not just the young Ponies, but also for Havre High veterans like Jeff Hedges, who is ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds, and Chad Seely, who is ranked No. 2 at 189 pounds.
The Holiday Classic will feature most of the Class AA schools as well as most of the Central A schools. Laurel and Whitefish will be in attendance as will Class B powers Conrad, Glasgow, Choteau and Cut Bank.
"There are going to be some really good wrestlers at this tournament," Filius said. "Jeff has some solid kids in his weight class including Cole Meyers from Laurel, who he beat in the finals as state last year."
"All of our kids are going to have some outstanding competition in their brackets this weekend."
As for the Blue Pony lineup heading into Great Falls, Filius will go with Clint Bradbury at 98 pounds. Bradbury is ranked second in Class A at that weight. Sophomore Gray Chagnon will compete at 105, and freshmen Beau LaSalle, who is ranked third, will go at 112.
At 119 pounds, Havre will either send Scott Sheppard, who is ranked fifth, or freshman Nate Harada. The two will wrestle off tonight. Hedges will be at 125 and Michael Sutherland will compete at 130 pounds. Freshman Logan Reichelt will wrestle 135 for the Ponies, while Havre will be open at 140 pounds.
Alex Leyba will go at 145 and Cody Seely will be at 152. Brett Michels, who is ranked fifth, will compete at 160 pounds. Guy Seely and Chad Seely will wrestle at 171 and 189 pounds, respectively. Chad Seely is ranked No. 2 in Class A at 189. Bill Zuelke will wrestle at 215 for the Ponies, and third-ranked Matt Schnittgen will once again round out the Pony lineup at 275.
The CMR Holiday Classic will get under way on Friday morning at 11 a.m. and it will continue Saturday morning at 10 a.m. There will also be a junior varsity tournament that the Ponies will compete at in Great Falls on Saturday. All of the action will take place at the CMR Fieldhouse.