Havre Daily News Sports
It will be an unusual postseason for both the Havre High girls and boys track teams. After finishing third and fifth, respectively, at last weekend's Central A divisional in Butte, the Blue Ponies will now trek to Great Falls for the Class A state meet in search of a different kind of glory.
Because of the small number of HHS athletes who have qualified for the state meet, the Ponies are virtually out of the running for any team hardware this weekend. Still, there is plenty to do when the meet gets under way Friday morning at memorial Stadium.
"We'll change our approach to this meet a little bit," said HHS head coach Mark West. "Normally we're thinking of how many points we can get and how we can get into the trophy race. But this time we are sending kids who are looking for more personal glory and individual achievement."
Indeed, the HHS girls have several athletes who have a chance at some serious gold this weekend. Leading the way is do-everything sophomore Carmen Neuens.
Neuens captured the Central A long jump championship and will be a top contender in that event this weekend. She also made the high jump field along with Central A champion and teammate Casea Pollington. Neuens will also be a strong contender in the triple jump, and she runs on both HHS relay teams.
"I think Carmen can do very well at state," West said. "Her best shot at a state title is in the long jump, but she can definitely place in every event and I know she will perform well this weekend."
Havre also has the multi-talented Lena Suek in the field and she figures to give the Ponies a boatload of team points. Suek is the Central A champion in both the javelin and discus and she finished second in the shot put.
While Suek has pretty much dominated the throws wherever she has gone this season, she will have to go up against one of the best throwers in the state in Columbia Falls standout Rebecca Stoltz.
Stoltz has the best throw of all three events in Class A this season and as of this week, Suek was a distant second.
"Lena has a very tough task ahead of her if she is going to beat Stoltz," West said. "But at the state meet anything can happen and all it takes is one throw and it might be the best one of your life. Lena will do very well this weekend."
The Ponies will also have junior sprinter Kelsey Smith to depend on this weekend. But like Suek, Smith will be up against some fierce competition in the 100 and 200 meters.
Class A has the fastest time in 100 meters, that run by Anaconda star Autumn Domitrovich. She is also tops in Class A in the 200 meters. Courtney Ferda of Whitefish also has top five times in both events.
The Ponies will also look for points from distance runner Darci Briere, sophomore pole vaulter Jessica Nolan and hurdler Amy Marshall this weekend.
"It is tough to tell, but we just don't have the depth to keep up with some of the other teams in the field this weekend," West said of the team competition. "Anaconda and Belgrade will be very tough to beat this weekend, and you can't overlook Whitefish either. Those teams are just so deep this year and they are multi-talented.
"But we have some good kids in the field and I think the kids we're taking have a good shot at having a very good state meet, so we're really excited," he added.
For the second straight year, the HHS boys will also be virtually out of the trophy hunt before it really begins. It has been an up-and-down season for the Blue Pony boys team.
Havre has had some pleasant surprises along the way, but its lack of depth has hurt the Ponies most of the season. Still, West said that individually this could be a good state meet for the up-and-coming Ponies.
"We have some boys going to state that can really do some good things I think," he said. "I know that Scott Robinson will have a really good meet, because he is just running so well right now. I also think our short relay team could be a title contender this weekend."
Robinson will be expected to contend for state titles in both the 200 and 400 meters and he will also guide both HHS relay teams. The Havre High 400 meter relay team also includes Tom Knudson, Derek Verploegen and Kyle Finneman. Knudson will also compete in the 110 meter hurdles this weekend, while Finneman and Verploegen will run in the vaunted sprints for the Ponies.
Another area where the Blue Ponies could see some success this weekend will be the shot put. Havre will enter Ricky Houim and sophomore Matt Schnittgen in the shot put and West said that Houim has a very good chance of getting on the medal stand Saturday afternoon.
"Ricky is throwing the shot really well and he has all season," he said. "If he has two really good days he could definitely place or even better that this weekend."
Havre also has a contender in the boys pole vault in Cody McLean, and Ryan Horne will high jump for the Ponies this weekend.
As far as the team race goes West said things are pretty much wide open on the boys side.
"I think that Belgrade and Butte Central look really good from our division," West said. "Corvallis is another team that might sneak in there and Dillon looks pretty strong as well."
The 2005 Class A state track meet will get under way Friday morning with preliminary rounds. The finals will run all day on Saturday and all of the action will take place at Memorial Stadium in Great Falls.