George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The time is now for Havre High track and field athletes, and there is no place like home when it comes to trying to qualify for the Class A state meet next weekend in Bozeman. Today and Saturday, HHS plays host to the Central A Divisional track meet at the Havre Middle School track, and the Blue Pony boys are out for one thing to win back the Central A team title. "Our boys are feeling really confi- dent right now," first-year Havre head coach Roger Larson said. "They have performed well all season, and they have been looking really good the last couple of weeks. So I think we have a chance to do very well this weekend." Indeed, the Ponies have some of the most talented athletes in a division that features Lewistown, Belgrade, Livingston, Butte Central and Browning. Havre will rely on a host of veterans to score points, including former Class A state champion sprinter Kyle Finneman, and hurdler and jumper Jason Mudrow. The Ponies should also get plenty of points from seniors Robert The Boy and Grayson Winsor in the throws, as well as and Andy Keim in the distance races and Jack Teske in the jumps. "We're going to rely heavily on those guys to score a lot of points," Larson said. "They have been doing it all year, and I think they'll do it again this weekend." Havre should also get points from Mike Hickman in the jumps, and Larson says that Ethan Flathers is one of several younger Blue Ponies that will surprise people this weekend. "I think your also going to see our pole vaulters do very well this weekend," Larson said. "They have struggled to get good weather to vault in, but it's going to be nice this weekend, and I think they are going to have a really strong meet." Weather has been an issue for HHS all season, but that hasn't stopped the Pony boys from being one of the topscoring teams in Class A all year. HHS has competed in just three full meets this year, but still, the Ponies are the favorite to capture the Central A title at home this weekend. "Lewistown and Belgrade have the sheer numbers to compete with anybody," Larson said. "I mean, a team like Lewistown has kids all over the place, so both those teams are capable of scoring a lot of points. All the other teams have their share of good athletes in certain places too, but as far as depth and numbers go, those two teams and us have the best chance this weekend." The girls meet will be a little different for the Blue Ponies, as unlike the boys team, the HHS girls don't have the depth to keep pace with the likes of Lewistown and Belgrade. Instead, the Ponies have to rely on their star athletes to score a lot of points, and they do have several of those. "Belgrade has a lot of kids and so does Lewistown," Larson said. "And we only have 13 girls competing in the divisional meet, so it's going to be tough for us. So to try and get more points, we're having some girls do a couple extra events just to see if we can sneak in a few more points and get all of our girls through to state." Havre's best chance at the medal stand this weekend will come from Hannah Wells, who should compete for titles in both hurdle events, Sarah Blessum in the 400 and 800, Stacey Sheppard in the sprints, and Karla Hellegaard and Janelle Job in the jumps, as well as Madison Ruff. "I think the good thing is, the girls’ side is more wide open this year," Larson said. "A lot of teams have some good athletes, and Lewistown and Belgrade have the numbers, but I think you're going to see a lot of points come from different teams, so that makes it a more wide-open meet." The divisional track meet gets under way today at 4 p.m. with finals in the girls 800, the boys 1,600, the girls 3,200 and both 400-meter races. The rest of the finals will be run on Saturday starting at 10 a.m. The top six places in each event will qualify for the 2008 Class A state track meet beginning next Friday in Bozeman.