George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
In some sports, teams don't always get to face the best of the best. That isn't the case for the Havre High swim teams. In Class A swimming, the Blue Ponies are the best of the best, but almost each and every week, the Ponies get in the water with the best Class AA teams Montana has to offer. On Saturday at the Havre Community Pool, the story will be the same when the Blue Ponies host their Havre Invitational swim meet. "It's good for us," veteran HHS head coach Chris Inman said of swimming against the elite competition. "It's good for our kids to see what swimming is all about at the level, and of course, racing against that kind of good competition will always make you better." And in their second meet of the season, the Ponies will certainly see good competition. Saturday's meet features a field of all AA teams and Havre. Glacier High and Kalispell will be in attendance, as will CMR and Great Falls High. On the girls side, CMR is a swimming powerhouse and nearly unstoppable when it comes to scoring points. Kalispell has strong teams on both sides. But so does Havre. Everyone is aware of the HHS girls current streak of state championships, and the Pony boys look like a strong Class A team again this season. For the boys, senior Chris Kostelecky, juniors Logan Bunton, Jake Lillevedt and Matt Olson and sophomore Greg Rhines are returning, and for the girls, sophomore Kacie Johnson, seniors Kenzi Johnson, Jamaica Kaercher and Sabrina Rhines are returning. HHS also has deep numbers this season and a wealth of young talent ready to step up and carry on the HHS swimming tradition. And part of that is competing every week against teams like the ones the Ponies will get into the pool with on Saturday. "The competition will be tough," Inman said. "But this early in the season, we're not worried about where we place or who we beat. We're more concerned with how we perform, and if we go out and do our best and swim hard. That's how we get better, and that's what we want to do this weekend. After debuting with a short-handed team in Kalispell last weekend, the Ponies will be at full strength for their first of two home meets this season. Havre will also host the Class A swim meet in January. And make no mistake, swimming at home is another important part of Havre's process of working towards its ultimate goals. "It's important to have the opportunity to swim at home," Inman said. "The kids are very comfortable and confident in our pool. "We're going up against some good competition this weekend, and it gives us a chance to really get better," she added. "Then, when we get to January and we have the other Class A teams in come in here, we'll get to go up against out chief competition and we'll have a good idea of where we're at." The 2008 Havre Invitational swim meet will get under way at 12 p.m. Saturday at the Havre Community Pool.