By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
It may be hard for some people to believe, but when the Chinook Invitational Track meet gets under way Saturday morning at the Havre Middle School track, it will be the final time that competitors from across the Hi-Line will have an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming postseason.
That fact is not lost on Havre High head coach Mark West. Due to an open date in their schedule, Saturday will be the final regular season meet before the Blue Ponies head off to the Central A Divisional track meet in Anaconda.
"This is going to be a really important meet for us," West said. "It is an opportunity to fine tune some things, and it is also the last chance for some kids to lower their times and try to make the divisional team.
"I expect our kids to be very focused and compete very hard on Saturday," West added.
The same can be said for the host Beeters. This week also marks the end of the regular season. The District 2B meet will be the next stop for Chinook.
"This is a very good meet for our team," said Chinook head coach Mark Roseberry. "With the teams that will be in attendance this weekend, we will have a really good idea of where we are at when we go into the district meet next weekend."
It has been a tale of two different seasons for Roseberry and his Beeter team. The Chinook girls have had a very solid season and will be expected to contend for trophies over the next few weeks.
The Chinook boys team has struggled at times. But Roseberry believes that the return of Kelan Broadhead should give them a much needed boost. Broadhead has been sidelined with injuries for a good portion of the 2004 season.
"I am really pleased with where our girls team is at right now," Roseberry said. "We're getting scoring from all three areas. We have been pretty strong all year with our runners and our jumpers. And we have been getting some good points out of our throwers lately.
"Our boys team has been somewhat down, especially in numbers," Roseberry added. "But they have worked hard all season and they compete very hard every week. And getting Kelan back will certainly help, because he provides us with a lot of leadership."
Saturday's invitational will consist of 14 or 15 teams from around North Central Montana. The field will include Class A powers Havre High and Lewistown.
Joining the host Beeters will be such Class B schools Conrad, Fort Benton, Malta, Glasgow, Simms and Wolf Point. Perennial District 9C powers KG and Blue Sky will also be there on Saturday.
"I think the Fort Benton boys and Conrad boys will certainly be tough on Saturday," Roseberry said. "But most of the schools have some very good athletes, so I expect the scoring to be really balanced and I don't think anyone will run away this meet."
On the girls side, both Roseberry and West agree that the Havre High girls team will be heavily favored. But Malta, Chinook, Lewistown and Conrad may also be in the mix by the end of the day.
"Havre is really starting to be a very good team," Roseberry said. "But when Malta is at full strength they are very good, and so is Conrad. I also think we have a chance to do pretty well this weekend."
Said West: "One of the big things for us this weekend will be going head-to-head with Lewistown. They have some very good athletes on their girls team and it will be good for our kids to see them again before divisionals. We just want to see our kids compete hard, lower their times and keep improving before we get a week of rest."
Saturday's Chinook Invitational is scheduled to get under way with the field events beginning at 10 a.m. The running events will begin at 10:30 a.m. with all of the action will take place at the Havre Middle School track.