By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
For most high school kids, Christmas break is usually about rest and relaxation. But for the Havre high wrestling team, it is about hard work and capitalizing on the momentum that head coach Scott Filius' troops have built over the course of the first month of the season.
After two weeks of practice, the Ponies will return to the mat this morning at the Cut Bank Invitational. According to Filius, the Cut Bank tournament is one of the best tourneys that Havre will compete in this season, and he said it will be a good test of his wrestlers following the holiday break.
"The Cut Bank tournament is the premier Class B tournament in the state," Filius said. "And it is probably in the top five tournaments of the year in Montana wrestling. There will be some very good competition this weekend and all of our kids will have some tough competitors in their weight classes."
The Cut Bank tourney will feature 32 teams from the Class A and B-C ranks. Columbia Falls, Ronan and the Blue Ponies will be the top Class A schools in the tourney. Conrad, Choteau, Cut Bank and St. Ignautius are the featured B-C schools.
As for what Filius expects from his team after the extended time off from competition, he believes that his team should continue to take the next step in getting better.
"We have practiced harder than most teams do over Christmas break," Filius said. "The kids have worked really hard the last two weeks and I have seen a lot of improvement in the practice room. It has been a great two weeks of practice.
"I would like to think that we will be better than we have been early in the season because of the hard work we have put in over the break," Filius added. "I am hoping to see that practice pay off and see more kids in the finals this weekend, but there will some tough teams there so we'll see what happens."
The Havre lineup for this weekend will remain unchanged in the lower weight classes. Both Clint Bradbury and Billy Wagner will compete at 98 pounds and Gray Chagnon will be at 105. Freshman Beau LaSalle will be at 112 with Scott Sheppard and Jeff Hedges at 119 and 125 pounds, respectively. Michael Sutherland will be at 130 pounds and Logan Reichelt will go at 135. Havre will be open at 140 pounds and Alex Leyba will be at 145. Cody Seely will be at 152 and Guy Seely will drop down to wrestle at 160 pounds to fill in for the injured Brett Michels. Provided that he is medically cleared to compete, Dallas Thompson could see his first action of the season at 171 pounds. Thompson has been sidelined with a shoulder injury thus far this season. Rick Houim will be at 189 pounds, with Bill Zuelke at 215 and Matt Schnittgen at 275.
The Cut Bank Invitational will get under way this morning at the Cut Bank High School gymnasium.