George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, the start of the 2007-2008 swimming season is difficult on the highly-successful Havre High School swim teams. The Blue Ponies, winners of both the Class A-B boy's and girl's 2007 state championships, start their season at traditionally one of the toughest meets of the year, the Kalispell Invitational. And on Saturday in Kalispell, both HHS teams were in the pool to start the new year. On the girls side, the Blue Ponies, winners of the last eight Class A-B state titles, finished in seventh place overall with a total of 48 points Saturday. The Ponies finished just ahead of last-place Kalispell, while the CMR Rustlers took home the team title at the meet. CMR scored 308.5 points to easily outdistance second-place Missoula Sentinel, which scored 222. Glacier High was third followed by Missoula Big Sky and Missoula Hellgate. Individually, Havre High's best event on the girls side was the 50-yard freestyle. The Ponies had eight swimmers finish inside the top 30, led by Mariah Armstrong, who finished 11th overall. Taylor Cline finished 15th while Sam Mack, Abi Ita, Madelin Rick, Ashley Booker, Mercades Lodge and Amber Brown all finished in the top 30 swimmers. Armstrong also had a strong showing in the 50-yard backstroke, finishing 10th overall, while Jessica Howland finished 10th in the 50-yard butterfly event and Lodge finished 12th in the 100-yard individual medley. Rick was HHS's top finisher in the 100-yard freestyle. Rick finished 12th overall. The Pony girls, who are always strong in the relays for head coach Chris Inman, were again on Saturday. HHS teams finished fifth and seventh, respectively in the 200-yard freestyle relay. The Havre 'A' team composed of Armstrong, Howland, Cline and Rick finished in fifth place, while another HHS team composed of Ashley Booker, Lodge, Ita and Amber Brown finished seventh. The Ponies also finished sixth in the 400-yard freestyle relay. That team was composed of Ita, Mack, Lodge and Rick. On the boys side, the Blue Ponies finished in last place with just 11 points in the difficult meet. CMR captured the boys team title with 212 points while Great Falls High was second with 205 points. The Ponies had just one individual finisher in Collin Carlson. Carlson finished fifth in the grueling 500-yard freestyle race with a time of 8:13.56. Both Blue Pony teams were the only Class A schools in the tough meet in Kalispell. The Ponies will now prepare to host the Havre Invitational on Saturday at the Havre Community Pool.