By George Ferguson
The Havre High school wrestling team finished a busy weekend with an eighth place finish at the Cowboy Invitational in Miles City. The Ponies also defeated the Glasgow Scotties in a dual meet Thursday night in Glasgow before heading to Miles City.
Havre, a five-time winner of the prestigious tournament in Miles City, finished eighth out of 22 teams with a team score of 80. The tournament included several of the top programs from Wyoming and South Dakota.
The top-ranked Class A Sidney Eagles won the tournament with a 186 points followed by Gillette, Wyo.and defending champion Sheridan, Wyo. Class A schools, Hardin, Glendive and Colstrip also finished ahead of the Blue Ponies.
Havre High head coach Scott Filius was pleased with how his team competed in Miles City, but felt that the results could have been better.
"I thought our guys wrestled right about to our abilities," Filius said. "But I thought we could have had two guys in the finals and it just didn't happen."
Individually, Havre placed four wrestlers in the tournament, but the surprise of the tournament may be the third-place finish of junior Jeff Hedges.
For the first time this season, Hedges failed to reach the finals of a tournament as he was defeated 8-5 by Ryan Hecker of Sidney in the semifinal round. Hecker was ranked number two in Class A behind Hedges coming into the weekend.
Hedges rebounded to win two matches to finish third in the tournament at 112 pounds.
At 171 pounds, Chad Seely also reached the semifinals but lost a close 7-6 decision to Chris Gorder from Poplar. Like Hedges, Seely bounced back to finish third.
On Hedges and Seely's performances, Filius thinks that things easily could have gone the other way.
"Jeff wreslted well, but Hecker is a good freshmen who is very tough and scrappy," Filius said. "And Chad just got caught at the end of his semifinal match. He dominated the whole way and just got caught at the end."
Daine Solomon also won his first round match but then lost in the quarterfinals before coming through the wrestlebacks to reach the 5th and 6th place match. Solomon was defeated in that match 7-4 to finish in sixth place for the weekend.
Also finishing in sixth place for the Ponies was Chad Zuelke at 145 pounds. Zuelke reached the quarterfinals before losing and then came through the wrestlebacks before falling, 11-1, in the 5th and 6th place event.
Grey Chagnon, Nick Johnson and Bill Zuelke also reached the quarterfinals round of the winners bracket but were all defeated in that round. Greg Leyba also rebounded from a first-round loss to win a couple of matches in the wrestlebacks. Michael Sutherland and Scott Sheppard also won a wrestlebacks match.
On Thursday night, the Ponies traveled to Glasgow and soundly defeated the Scotties in a dual, 45-26. The Scotties forfeited four weight classes including 98, 112, 135 and 275 pounds.
Alex Leyba picked up a key win at 130 pounds by defeating Jeremy Johnston 10-7. Chad Seely and Nick Johnson also won their matches by pinfall to give the Ponies the critical team points to hold off the Scotties.
As for where his Ponies stand right now, Filius says that his team seems a little inconsistent.
"We're just up and down right now," Filius said. "But our results are getting better as the season goes on."
The Ponies will travel to Belgrade this weekend for three days worth of dual matches. On Thursday night, Havre will dual both Anaconda and Belgrade. On Friday and Saturday the Ponies will compete in the Central A Dual Tournament.