by George Ferguson
Havre Daily News Sports
The Havre Middle School track is going to be a busy place the next two weekends. Having already played host to KG's Cal Wearley Memorial track meet on Wednesday, the action will heat up again on Saturday morning as the Chinook Invitational comes to town.
The meet will feature as many as 24 teams from around the area, including the host Beeters, as well as Class A Havre. Chinook head coach Mark Roseberry said that because of the large number of teams that are going to be in attendance, the meet should be very competitive.
"Originally, we had 15 teams in the field," Roseberry said. "But we were still fielding calls on Thursday from teams who wanted to know if they could get in. Not only will there be a large number of athletes competing on Saturday, there should be a lot of good competition in every event."
That good competition includes the Havre Blue Ponies. While the Pony boys are still searching for an identity, they have already enjoyed moderate success this young season. Havre placed several individuals in the Glasgow Invitational last weekend, including solid performances from seniors Scott Robinson and Ted Wells.
The Blue Pony boys also had some solid outings on Wednesday in the KG meet. Senior Rick Hoium placed in the shot put, while Tom Knudson placed in both hurdle events. Havre also got a fifth-place finish from freshman Kyle Finneman in the 200 meters. If the Ponies are to have success this weekend, they will need an even stronger effort from its senior-laden varsity team, which should be near full strength.
Meanwhile, the Chinook boys might not have the luxury of figuring into the team title in their own invitational. The Beeters have just six boys out for track this season and several compete in the same events. Chinook is guided by throwers Brendan Maddox, Mike Miller and D.J. Stuker. Freshman Colton Davies and exchange student Zdenek Valenta are Chinook's two sprinters on the track this spring.
"We're really down in numbers, obviously," Roseberry said. "But the kids that are out are working hard every day and they are improving each practice. Their attitude has been great. Hopefully that will continue because these kids can go after personal bests every week."
While the HHS boys should figure into the team race on Saturday, it won't be easy to get on the medal stand. There is a solid mix of Class B and C schools in the field, led by the Fort Benton Longhorns.
The Longhorn boys have a plethora of standout athletes led by the likes of Brandon Utterback and Khalin Anderson, who is defending state champion in the long and triple jump. Malta, Conrad and Chester could also vie for the team title on the boys side of the meet.
The girls side of the meet will feature several strong individual athletes and some solid teams.
The girls field should be much more balanced, and the host Beeters are hoping to be a part of that mix. Chinook is led by returning state performers Crystal Roseberry and Brittany Williams.
Roseberry does a little of everything for the Beeters, but she excels in the jumps and the relay races, where the Chinook girls have been typically strong the last few seasons.
Williams is one of the state's top returning throwers, and she is looking to have a very big season, having already captured the shot put title at the Wearley on Wednesday and both the shot and discus last weekend in Glasgow.
While Mark Roseberry does have the luxury of having two veteran athletes on his team, he has a group of talented freshman that have him very excited about the 2005 season.
"We have three outstanding freshman and they are already doing very well," he said. "All three can run and they all are very good young athletes."
Jacque McMaster is one of the Beeter freshman to watch this weekend in the 100 meters as is Cheyenne Hamilton in the 400. Chinook will also look to get points out of Brittany MacLean in the relays and possibly elsewhere. Chinook won both the 400 and 1,600 relays on Wednesday.
"We're pretty excited about our girls team," Roseberry said. "We have a good core group of athletes that I think can score a lot of points for us this year."
Still, Roseberry admits that his Beeters probably aren't favored to win their own meet this weekend. He points that distiction to the Havre High girls.
After a solid start in Glasgow last Saturday, the HHS girls will look to get a little closer to hitting their stride this weekend.
Havre has already got outstanding efforts from sophomore Lena Suek and do-everything sophomore Carmen Neuens, but the Ponies will need to continue their dominance in the distance races if they want to contend for a team title this weekend.
The Ponies have always been strong in the distances and this season is no exception. With the likes of Darci Briere, Kelsey Malsam and Rebecca Hilliard running for Havre, they could once again separate themselves from the rest of the field in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meter races.
HHS head coach Mark West is also hoping to get some more production out of areas like the pole vault where sophomore Jessica Nolan placed in the KG meet earlier this week. Casea Pollington also gives Havre some depth in the high jump and freshman Amy Marshall is already looking solid in the hurdles.
But winning a team title in the Chinook Invitational isn't a given for Havre or anyone else. The Ponies will have to contend with a strong field that includes Chester, Malta, Conrad and Sunburst.
The Chinook Invitational is scheduled to get under way Saturday morning with the field events at 9:30 a.m. The running events will get underway at 10:30 a.m. and all of the action will take place at the HMS track.