By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
It may be hard to fathom, but the Havre High wrestling team is entering its final week of competition of the 2005 regular season with a pair of duals against top notch opponents.
Tonight, the Ponies will host the CMR Rustlers at 6:15 at the MSU-Northern gymnasium as part of a doubleheader with the MSU-Northern wrestling team. The Lights will host North Idaho College after the Ponies and Rustlers finish up. Havre will also travel to Conrad to take on the No. 1-ranked Class B-C Cowboys Saturday night.
The Ponies are still battling a strain of flu that has plagued them for over two weeks now.
Havre High head coach Scott Filius will once again have alter tonight's lineup somewhat. Havre had to drastically shuffle its lineup at last weekend's Class A Duals in Belgrade, a tournament in which the Ponies went 5-1 and finished second to Libby.
Despite all of the changes, Filius is happy with how is team is performing as it enters the final weekend of the regular season.
"We're going to hold some kids out against CMR," Filius said. "Part of it is because some kids are still sick, and part of it because some kids need some more matches before the divisional tournament."
Havre is 15-2 in duals this season and will look to avenge its close loss to the Rustlers last year in Great Falls. The Ponies had previously defeated CMR four straight times, but the Rustlers narrowly defeated a short-handed Havre High team at home last season.
Havre will still be without a couple of key wrestlers tonight, but Filius said that if his team wrestles well, the changes should not affect the outcome.
"CMR isn't a very deep Class AA team," Filius said. "They don't have a lot at the top of their lineup. They beat us last year and we're holding some kids out again this year. But I think we still have a very strong lineup and if we wrestle well we should have a good shot at beating them."
The Rustlers will bring just two ranked wrestlers into tonight's dual. Tom Daniels is ranked No. 1 in Class AA at 152 pounds and he will face Dallas Thompson, who is currently ranked sixth in Class A. At 171 pounds, Chase Gazzero is ranked fifth in Class AA and he will be matched up against Cody Seely.
The rest of the HHS lineup tonight will feature freshman Ryan Shelstad at 98 pounds; Billy Wagner, who is currently ranked fifth at 105; Shane Boucher at 112 pounds; Clint Bradbury at 119 and Beau LaSalle, who is ranked fifth, at 125 pounds.
Gray Chagnon will get the start at 130 pounds, while Mike Hipple and Mike Sutherland will move up to 135 and 140 pounds, respectively.
Logan Reichelt will be back in at 145 pounds after missing last week's action. No. 1-ranked Evan Hinebauch will be at 160 pounds and No. 1-ranked Chad Seely will be at 189 pounds.
Tyler Wheeler will earn a forfeit at 215 pounds and No. 1 ranked heavyweight Matt Schnittgen is back after missing last weekend with the flu.
The Ponies will be without Bill Zuelke this weekend. Zuelke had minor surgery on his knee and Filius is hoping to have him back for the Central A divisional tournament next Saturday in Havre.
On Saturday night, the Ponies will venture to Conrad to finish out the regular season in a gym they have never fared too well in. The Cowboys are the two-time defending Class B-C champs and are poised to make it three in a row this season.
However, the second-ranked Ponies are also in a good position to finally beat the Cowboys on their home mat, which is something Havre hasn't done in quite some time.
"It would be nice to go down there and get one from Conrad because they have really beaten up on us the last couple of times we went down there," Filius said. "Conrad is a very good, but they are not as deep as they have been in the past. They still have some great individual wrestlers though.
The Cowboys have five top-ranked wrestlers and several defending state champions. The feature match Saturday night will pit Hinebauch against Danny Murr. Nate Harada will also have his hands full at 119 pounds against Jacob Schlosser, as will Chad Ranes at 98 pounds against freshman Scotty Schlosser.
At 140 pounds, Sutherland will battle defending state champion Caleb Lockyer, and at 152 pounds, Thompson will take on Trent Zempel. Chagnon will also have a tough match against sophomore Thad Zempel.
The rest of the HHS lineup will include Wagner at 105 and Bradbury moving back down to 112 pounds. LaSalle will be at 125 and Hipple will stay at 135 pounds. Cody Seely will be at 171 pounds and Chad Seely will be at 189. Wheeler will wrestle at 215 and Schnittgen will be at heavyweight.
With two good duals in the last weekend of the regular season, Filius said that his team should be very prepared for the upcoming post season.
"It is nice to wrestle two quality opponents like this because all of our kids are going to get good matches," Filius said. "But it is also refreshing because they can have these matches against opponents they won't see again so they can be loose and wrestle, knowing that there won't be any dire consequences from these matches."
Saturday night's dual in Conrad is scheduled to get underway at 6:30 p.m.