Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
For the first time in six years, the Havre High wrestling team will open the season as the defending Class A state champions. The Ponies will begin the season on their home turf as they host the Havre Invitational, which starts this afternoon and finishes up on Saturday at the HHS Gymnasium. The Ponies will play host to a group of seven teams that includes Central A conference rivals Lewistown and Browning. Other teams that will be in attendance at the Havre invite are Malta, Cut Bank, Chinook and Big Sandy. “There will be some decent competition. Lewistown has some pretty good young kids and actually Chinook also has some pretty good young kids also,” HHS head coach Scott Filius said. “The biggest thing about this weekend is just getting some matches. The way we run out tournament, we put the kids into a round-robin format on Friday, where they are guaranteed three matches and then they will get at least two more matches on Saturday, but most kids end up getting even more than that.” Despite losing individual state champions Evan Hinebauch, Matt Schnittgen and Beau LaSalle, the Ponies still boast one of the most talented rosters in all of Class A wrestling. While Schnittgen and Evan Hinebauch were both three-time state champions and LaSalle captured a state title last season, the team remains filled with veterans who had success at the state meet, highlighted by Chris Recio, Myles Mazurkiewicz, Ryan Shelstad, Ethan Hinebauch, Loren Mack and Phil Sutherland. Recio, who may be the most talented pound-for-pound wrestler on the squad, will wrestle at 105 pounds this season, Shelstad will be at 119 , Mack will be at 125, Mazurkiewicz will be at 130, Hinebauch will be at 152 and Sutherland will be in the 160-pound weight class. However, that is not the only reason that Filius has reason to be optimistic about his team, as the HHS roster is filled with promising young talent. Havre fans and opposing coaches should keep a close eye on the development of sophomores Kent Pattison, Mitch Schnittgen and Brett Normandy. “Kent Pattison has been doing a great job in practice,” Filius said. “He has been working extremely hard, but you know we have a lot of kids that have really been doing a great job at practice.” Pattison will be in the lineup at 135 pounds, Normandy will be in at 112 pounds and Schnittgen will be wrestling in the heavyweight division. Rounding out the varsity lineup for the Ponies will be Duel Steadle at 98 pounds, Chad Ranes at 140 pounds, Cody Johnson at 145 pounds, Curtis Shandorf at 171 pounds and Paul Jensen at 215 pounds. Shandorf, Ranes and Jensen also have a wealth of state tournament experience. When asked about his teams chances of repeating as Class A state champions Filius simply said. “That’s the idea. That’s what we are hoping for.” “The only thing that really matters to us this first weekend is experience,” Filius said. “We want the kids to go out and compete hard, but right now it is just important to get them some mat experience.” The 2007 Havre Invitational wrestling tournament begins today at the HHS gymnasium and runs through Saturday afternoon.