Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
The top-ranked Havre High wrestling team had only wrestled in one tournament this season before the 21st annual Mining City Duals. But after the Blue Ponies performance this weekend, they look like a team in midseason form and a definite favorite for a third straight Class A state championship. On Friday and Saturday, the Central A Ponies were in Butte, and continued in their dominance by winning the Mining City tournament for the second time in five years. The Ponies finished in the top spot in 2004 and 2006, but after finishing in second a year ago, the title has once again returned to Havre. Last year in the championship dual, the Ponies lost to Kalispell 43-26. “Outside the state tournament, this is the funnest tournament we compete in.” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “It’s probably the best competition, it’s dual format and it’s early in the season. It has always been one of our favorites to come out and compete at.” Meeting in the championship dual Saturday were two undefeated teams. Both Billings Skyview and the Ponies defeated everyone in their pools and in tournament play on Saturday. And it wasn’t until these two teams met when the Ponies were actually tested. But their experience shined through, and the Ponies defeated the Falcons 39-36. To get to the championship round, the Ponies had to first make it through Friday's pool play, having facing Sidney, Dillon and then Glacier and then tournament play. “In those seven duals we improved a lot, from the first day to the last day.” Filius said. “We got better every round.” And on Friday, the Ponies dominated from the first match against Sidney to the last match against Glacier. In each of the first three duels, the Ponies gave up a forfeit at the 98-pound weight class, but not counting the forfeits they only lost four matches. “The kids wrestled very well.” Filius said. “We were very competitive from top to bottom. We had three freshmen in the lineup, and none of those kids were easy outs. For them to get a win on us they had to scrap for everything they got, and in a team dual that’s what it’s all about, making sure everybody is competing.” There were many Pony wrestlers who shined on Friday, but topping the list were Duell Stadel (105), Dillon Seely (125) , Myles Mazurkiewicz (135), Ethan Hinebauch (160), Curtis Shandorf (171) and heavyweight Mitch Schnittgen who all recorded pins over all three of their opponents. In pool play, the Ponies defeated Sidney 64-9, Dillon 76-12 and Glacier 67-15. And by the time the Ponies next two duals rolled around, thy were still rolling through opponents with almost no trouble. But this time, the teams who were unlucky enough to have face them were Helena High and Huntley Project on Saturday morning. The Ponies defeated Helena High 71-10 and Huntley Project 70-12. HHS was just as impressive as before. The Ponies still had to give up forfeits at 98 pounds, but that had absolutely no effect on the rest of their dominating matches, as they went on to record 17 more pins in the two duals Saturday morning. Even in the semifinal dual against CMR, where a little more challenge would have been expected, the Ponies put the talent that comes with a No.1 ranking on display. It was closer than the previous duals, but the Ponies still came through strong, defeating the Rustlers 57-28. The previous duals may have been somewhat of breeze for the Ponies, but in the championship match, the Skyview Falcons definitely showed up to compete. “We wrestled very well.” Filius said. “We gave up a couple matches where we had a couple of their kids just out of juice and gassed and we were a couple seconds away from winning those too. I was very pleased.” Mazurkiewicz (135) and Kent Pattison (140) got things started for the Ponies in an exciting fashion. Mazurkiewicz pinned Kooper Bond 1:20 into the first period, and Pattison pinned Cory Champney 50 seconds into the first period. And after dropping the next two matches by a decision and a forfeit, Ethan Hinebauch (160), Shandorf (171) and Phillip Sutherland (189) came through for the Ponies by all getting pins over their Falcon opponents. A win by Stadel (105) would have sealed the dual for the Blue Ponies, but after being pinned with less than 10 seconds to go, they had to wait and see what happened with Chris Recio’s (112) match. But with the way he had wrestled all weekend, it is safe to say that there was little doubt or worry by coaches and fellow wrestlers. Recio was facing Brennan Barta, who is probably the best wrestler in the Falcon lineup. But in a 6-3 decision, Recio came through with a handful of matches still left and the title belonged to the Ponies. “I think that we are as good as anybody in this state.” Filius said. “We knew that, though. A lot of these guys have been on varsity for four years, and have been competing at a high level for four years. The stuff we are doing drillwise is working. We’re competing well and winning some of the close matches. The kids are doing a nice job.” It was an all-around dominating performance by the Ponies this weekend, and with another week of preparation ahead of them, they are gearing up for the CMR Holiday Classic in Great Falls on Friday and Saturday.