Daniel Horton Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Divisionals and state are what the two time defending Class A state champion Havre High wrestling team has been preparing for all season long, and after another dominating season, tournament time is finally here. On Saturday the top-ranked Central A Blue Ponies join the rest of the division for the Central A Divisional tournament at 9:30 a.m in Browning. HHS is holding down the top spot in the Class A coaches poll, but joining them from the Central A are the No. 2 Belgrade Panthers. The Panthers took four matches from the Ponies earlier this season, and should be the biggest threat for the Ponies at divisionals. “It’s not as one sided as it seems.” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “They (Panthers) are doing a nice job and coming out of our division they should get most of their kids through.” No Other Central A team is ranked in the Class A Top 10, but Lewistown is the next deepest team in the division. The Central A also features Browning, Livingston and Butte Central. HHS will be sending 19 grapplers to Browning, all of which recorded winning records this season. Entering divisionals, Zack Smith (98) is 20-15, Duell Stadel (105) is 26-5, Chris Recio (112) is 25-2, Brett Normandy (119) is 19-11, Dillon Seely (125) is 16-15, Eli Hinebauch (130) is 37-4, Kristian Honadel (130) is 13-10, Myles Mazurkiewicz (135) is 30-3, Layne Waid (135) is 14-10, Kent Pattison (140) is 37-5, Aaron Olson (145) is 27-8, Kameron Pribyl (145) is 28-7, Casey Schaub (152) is 20-16, Cody Johnson (152) is 15-7, Ethan Hinebauch (160) is 36-1, Phillip Sutherland (171) is 33-8, Josh Salapich (189) is 16-12, Paul Jensen (215) is 29-8 and Mitch Schnittgen (HWT) is 23-6. And returning individual Central A champions include Recio (105), Mazurkiewicz (130) , Olson(145), Ethan Hinebauch (152), Sutherland (160), Jensen(215), and Schnittgen at heavyweight. Pattison is also returning after finishing in second a year ago at 135 pounds. HHS has dominated the divisional tournament while under the guidance of Filius, taking the championship 10 times in the past 12 years. HHS is going for its sixth in a row this weekend in Browning. And magnifying the talent in the Ponies program is the fact that 12 of this years attending wrestlers are ranked in the top four in Class A. Eli Hinebauch(130), Ethan Hinebauch (160) , Schnittgen (HWT) and Pattison (140) are all ranked No. 1 in the Class A. And sitting in the No. 2 spots are Stadell (105), Recio(112), Olson (145), Sutherland (171) and Mazurkiewicz at 135 pounds. Wrapping up the ranked wrestlers for the Ponies is Normandy (119) No. 3 and Jensen (215) ranked as No. 4. Each weight class advances the top four wrestlers, and the Ponies are looking to take full advantage. “I would like to think that every one of our kids could qualify.” Filius said. “There isn’t a kid that we are taking down there that doesn’t think they are in the top four, and I tend to agree with them. I think they can all wrestle and achieve that.” But there are some wrestlers from the other programs who could be problematic for the Ponies Belgrade has number of quality opponents for HHS. The Panthers have ranked wrestlers at 98, 112, 125, 130, 145, 152, 171 and 189 pounds as well as heavyweight. And Belgrade has legitimate divisional state title contenders in Tucker Taylor at 152 and Tate Lucas at 130. Taylor is part of a loaded weight class with top-ranked Connor Malone of Lewistown, as well as a pair of HHS wrestlers. Rex Martin of Lewistown also comes into this weekend highly ranked. But in what will probably be the match of the weekend is the projected championship matchup of the Ponies No. 2 Mazurkiewicz (135) and Lewistown’s No. 1 Ryan Martin (135). The two have met a total of four times this season and split, going 2-2. “I imagine they will see each other in the finals for the next two weeks.” Filius said. “Those boys get after it and are fun to watch.” HHS has been dominating the competition since week one, and they have continued to improve every step of the way. They are the heavy favorites to walk away with yet another Central A title, and if things play out as planned, another state championship in two weeks. “We expect to raise our level this weekend a little higher than we have.” Filius said. “And hopefully we will have enough in the tank to raise it one more time a week after this.” The Ponies and the rest of the Central A get the divisional tournament under way at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning in Browning.