Havre Daily News Sports
Despite the cancellation of Tuesday's dual at CMR, the Havre High Track team will still be very busy over the next three days. Today, the Ponies travel to Malta for the Malta Invitational, which gets under way at 3 p.m.
On Saturday, the HHS boys and girls will then spilt up and take to the road once again. The Havre High girls will be in Great Falls for the Optimist Invitational, while the Blue Pony boys will be in Butte for the Swede Dahlberg Invitational.
"This is a very good week of competition for us," said veteran Havre High head coach Mark West. "We were put behind by not going to Great Falls on Tuesday. But all of our varsity and junior varsity kids will compete in Malta. The kids are also very excited about this weekend because both the boys and girls meets are the best meets we will attend all season competition-wise."
Today, the Ponies will be up against some familiar competition in Malta. The host Mustang boys are fresh off of a win at the Lions Invitational last Saturday in Havre, while the M-Ettes girls finished second. Joining the Ponies and Mustangs will be the likes of Chinook, Glasgow and Wolf Point as well as area Class C schools like Hinsdale, Saco and Whitewater.
On the boys side, Havre will have to rely heavily on top-point earners Scott Robinson, Tom Knudson and Cody McLean. But West also said that he is excited to see how some of his younger athletes perform.
"The nice thing about this meet is that we get to take our JV kids," West said. "We have some talented young kids, who will get a chance to step up on Thursday and see what they can do against some very good competition."
The HHS girls should be favored to bring home a team title with consistent performers Carmen Neuens and Lena Suek in the lineup.
Kelsey and Cammie West have also been steadily improving each week, which will bolster Havre's sprint corps as well as the Blue Pony relay teams. Still, the Pony girls will be without Mandi Nystrom and Casea Pollington, both of whom are shelved with injuries at the moment.
"Having two of our better girls out really puts some holes in our lineup," West said. "But we had some other girls really step forward on Saturday at our meet and they will have to continue to do that this weekend."
On Saturday, the HHS girls will need all the help they can get when they travel to Great Falls for the girls only Optimist Invitational. The field in Great Falls will include most of the Class AA teams as well as Havre and Central A rival Lewistown.
The Ponies have fared well in the past and they will need a big effort from their steady performers if they are to do so again. Not only will Suek, Neuens and the West twins be important on Saturday, but the Ponies will have to get points from perhaps the toughest portion of the meet, the distance races.
Darci Briere and Kelsey Malsam have been running extremely well this season, but Class AA is known for having some of the top distance runners in Montana, including Kalispell All-American Zoe Nelson.
"The Optimist Invite is always a situation where we go in knowing that the competition is very good," West said. "But that is good for us. We want to go down there and put our best foot forward, try to have kids PR and hopefully get better by the end of the meet. The girls are always excited about this meet no matter how tough the competition may be."
Meanwhile, the Havre High boys will head to Butte for the boys-only Swede Dahlberg Invitational. And like the girls team, the HHS boys will see some fierce competition. The Dahlberg field will include most of Class AA as well as Havre and several area Class A schools. A young Havre team did not fare too well there in 2004, but like the girls in Great Falls, West is hoping to use this meet as a springboard to better things later in the season.
"The competition in Butte is always really tough West said," But this year I think we have a little more depth and we have some kids, that if they PR, could have a pretty good day."
While Robinson's performance will be key to Havre's team success Saturday, the Ponies will also need a standout day from Rick Hoium, Ryan Horne and sprinter Ted Wells if they are to have any hopes of keeping pace in the team standings.
Havre will also look to its relay teams for possible points and they are hoping to make amends for mistakes made last weekend in Havre. One thing West does have is a healthy boys team and he is hoping that that trend will continue.
"Our boys team is pretty healthy right now," West said. "This week we just want to make sure we're focused and we get better. We just want the kids to perform well in Butte and not suffer any setbacks."
Today's Malta Invitational will get under way at 3 p.m. at the Malta High School Track. The Optimist Invitational in Great Falls will get under way at 10 a.m. Saturday morning at Memorial Stadium and the Swede Dahlberg Invitational in Butte will also get under way at 10 a.m. at Butte High School.