Havre Daily News
The Havre High wrestling team heads east to Miles City this weekend, where it will compete in the Cowboy Invitational.
The tournament will not only offer a very strong field but also plenty of intrigue, as top teams from Class A will go head-to-head, giving fans a possible sneak peak at what could happen down the road at the state tournament.
“There is usually a lot of great competition at this tournament,” HHS head coach Scott Filius said. “There are teams from Bismarck (North Dakota), Minot (North Dakota), Gillette (Wyoming), and of course Sidney. And they are as good a team as any in the state regardless of class.
“We are also going to get a chance to see teams like Hardin and Glendive, which will be good because we haven't seen some of those teams yet,” he added. “And we want to see how we will match up heading into the state tournament.”
The Ponies, who are ranked second in the Class A Montana Coaches Wrestling Poll, are coming off a first-place finish last weekend at the Cut Bank Invitational, and may be wrestling as well as any team in the state right now.
The Ponies have 10 wrestlers who are ranked in the top five in their respective weight classes, including Myles Mazurkiewicz, Mike Hipple, Evan Hinebauch and Matt Schnittgen, who are all ranked No. 1.
Despite the Ponies' very impressive resume, one team can claim it is just as good, if not better - the Sidney Eagles. The Eagles, who are ranked first in the coaches poll, boast five No.1-ranked wrestlers and 12 wrestlers ranked overall.
So, it will be interesting to see which team comes out on top as the two teams fight it out for bragging rights, and possibly the top spot in the rankings.
“It's a good chance for us to see how we match up and figure out what we need to do to get better,” Filius said. “It will help us find out if we need to change some things or move some people around before we head to the state tournament.”
The latest Blue Pony wrestler to earn a top spot in the rankings is Mazurkiewicz, who won the 105-pound weight class last weekend at Cut Bank, and was honored as the tournament's outstanding wrestler. He will wrestle at 105 pounds again this week as he tries to keep improving on what has already been a spectacular freshman campaign.
“Myles is hungry and he works as hard as any kid I have ever coached.” Filius said. “There is no limit as to how far he can go.”
The Ponies will also be expecting to get big points from Schnittgen at heavyweight, Hinebauch at 171 pounds, Mike Hipple at 119 pounds, and second-ranked Beau LaSalle at 125 pounds. All four of them have yet to lose in the 2005-06 season.
Nate Harada, who is ranked second at 130 pounds, and Ethan Hinebauch at 135 pounds have both begun to wrestle well as of late, and both will be expected to make big contributions not only this weekend but for the rest of year.
“Nate is coming off of probably his best week of the season,” Filius said. “Now he just needs to try and build upon that.
“Ethan has worked hard all year and we are expecting him to break out soon,” he added.
Wrestling at 140 pounds for the Ponies will be freshman Philip Sutherland, who is ranked fourth by the coaches and has flashed some of the potential that has Filius and the rest of his coaching staff excited.
“Philip had a solid finish last weekend and that was a step in the right direction,” Filius said. “He has a lot of potential, and he has learned to work hard. He is on the verge of some good things.”
Rounding out the lineup for the Ponies will be second-ranked Cody Seely at 215 pounds, third-ranked Ryan Shelstad at 98 pounds, third-ranked Loren Mack at 112 pounds, and Chris Buskirk at 189 pounds.
The Ponies are going to have at least two vacant spots in their lineup this week and could possibly have three, depending on the health of Curtis Shandorf. He normally wrestles at 160 pounds, but has had some injury problems and may miss the tournament this weekend.
The open spots in the lineup will be at 145 pounds and 152 pounds.
Despite having two vacant spots, the Ponies will still have all of their top wrestlers in the lineup this weekend as they look to build on the momentum they have gained in recent weeks. Havre also wants to improve on its second-place finish at the Miles City tournament a year ago.
“These kids have worked as hard as any kids I have ever coached,” Filius said. “It's a fun group to coach because they all have the desire to do well. Even with the vacant spots, we still feel like there is no reason why we can't win. We just hope to keep reaching a higher level every week.”
The Cowboy Invite gets under way Friday morning and will run through Saturday afternoon at the Miles City High School gymnasium.