Havre Daily News
Don't expect the Havre High wrestling team to be in a giving mood this weekend as it heads to Great Falls for the CMR Holiday Classic.
In fact, the Ponies should be out to prove they are better than how they wrestled a week ago. Even though they may not be in the holiday spirit, a tournament championship may just be at the top of their holiday wish list.
After finishing fourth last weekend in the Mining City Duals in Butte, the Ponies are looking to bounce back and try to make up for a disappointing outcome.
The third-ranked Ponies will get a firm test this weekend and a good chance to gauge their progress up to that point when they wrestle against 35 of the top wrestling programs in the state.
Teams like Billings Skyview, Kalispell, CMR, Great Falls High, Cut Bank and Conrad will make up the 36-team field at what is traditionally one of the best wrestling tournaments of the year.
“We should be able to compete with every team there,” HHS head coach Scott Filius said. “It's a very good tournament and it is a good measuring stick for the state tournament because usually if you place here, you have a good chance to place at state. I have had some kids who didn't place here but placed at state. Most of the time, though, it is a pretty accurate yardstick to evaluate yourself.”
The Ponies won the team title last year in Great Falls and would love to repeat again this year. The Ponies have a young team that is fairly inexperienced, so it may be a tough task to repeat. But Filius likes the development of his younger guys.
“We had another good week of practice,” Filius said. “We kind of put the hammer down this week after last week, and the kids have responded really well.”
Havre will bring another strong lineup to the tournament this week as the Ponies still have three wrestlers who have not lost yet this season.
Top-ranked 275-pounder Matt Schnittgen remains undefeated, and the Ponies will need another big weekend from Schnittgen if they are going to have any hope of defending their title.
Third-ranked Beau LaSalle will represent the Ponies in the 125-pound weight class as he looks to continue his good start with another solid outing.
The Ponies' other top-ranked wrestler, junior Evan Hinebauch, will wrestle in the 171-pound weight class. Hinebauch won the tournament at 160 pounds a year ago.
“We have three kids that are still unbeaten,” Filius said. “So they should have a good chance to do well.”
Second-ranked 98-pound wrestler Ryan Shelstad will look to continue his winning ways in 2005-06 as he looks to help his team carry home the hardware.
Myles Mazurkiewicz and Cody Seely are ranked second as well and wrestle at 105 pounds and 215 pounds, respectively.
The Ponies have a quartet of fourth-ranked wrestlers, including 112-pounder Loren Mack, 130-pounder Nate Harada, Ethan Hinebauch at 135 pounds, and freshman Phillip Sutherland, who wrestles at 145 pounds.
Fifth-ranked Curtis Shandorf will wrestle at 160 pounds for the Ponies as he looks to improve upon his solid freshman campaign.
Rounding out the Ponies' lineup for the Holiday Classic will be Billy Wagner at 119 pounds and Justin McLeod in the 140-pound weight class. McLeod will be replacing the injured Logan Reichelt.
Also missing for the Ponies is defending state champion Mike Hipple, who is still recovering from an injury suffered at the Havre Invitational. Hipple is expected to return to the lineup as early as next week.
“Right now we are hoping that we can be better in all 15 weight classes instead of just two or three,” Filius said. “The big thing to focus on is not to take a step back, and we haven't done that yet. So, I feel pretty good right now about where we're at.”
The tournament will get under way Friday morning at the CMR Fieldhouse in Great Falls and it will continue through Saturday night.