Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
For the most part, the snow is gone and the sun is shining. Spring is in the air, and Havre High spring sports are gearing up for what will hopefully be another successful season. On Saturday, the Blue Pony track and field season gets started in a new location, as they head out on the road for the Cut Bank Invitational. The field events start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and the track events get started at 11 a.m. As newcomers to Cut Bank, HHS doesn’t really know what to expect for its first meet of the season, but the Ponies can expect plenty of Class C competition, and maybe even a little from the Class A. The Cut Bank Invite will be a good first meet for the Ponies. There are no medals or team scores. The meet is set up as more of a time trial, and it will be a good gauge of how well the first two weeks of practice went. “It never really feels like you are fully ready.” Havre high head coach Roger Larson said. “But everyone else is given the same two weeks, so the first track meet is really to see where your kids are at.” A good start and a good performance this weekend in Cut Bank will really help the Ponies squad get off on the right foot. Last season they struggled because of the weather and because of injuries down the stretch. “They are all ready.” Larson said. “We just want to get out there and get at least one meet under our belts. Practice gets old and monotonous, and you want to get a meet in there to get the feel for it. We mainly just want to think of this as a workout, we are just going to out there see what we can do and move on.” And the Ponies have good reason to want to get their season underway. Both the boys and girls teams are looking strong this year, and they both feel like they have what it takes to improve on last year’s successes. A year ago, the boys finished second at the divisional meet, but came up short of a team trophy at state. They did place some individuals at state, but with new and higher goals set for this year, a team title is on the list of things to do. With a strong class of seniors and juniors leading the boys team this year, things are looking up after last year's injury plagued season. And similar to last year, one of their strongest areas has to be in the jumps. “The big points are going to come out of the jumps.” Larson said. “That is going to be this classes's strong suit.” Mike Hickman will earn his keep in the long jump, while Kaden Keto will give the team a boost with his triple jump. Jack Teske jumps all three events for the Ponies. All three athletes are seniors, and are coming off of successful seasons a year ago in the same events. “They (Hickman, Keto and Teske) are kind of the leaders of the team.” Larson said. “And they are going to go out there and compete. “It’s (jumping events) going to get us up there to win meets, but we still need to get points from all around.” Relays, sprints and hurdles are also going to be fairly strong for the boys this season. Junior, John Perrodin adds to the mix with a strong 300-meter hurdles event. And Kendal Murie and Kade Barsotti are looking strong in the one and two mile races. Keto will step away from the triple jump to also run the 800 meters, a strong race for him, also being a star cross country runner for the Ponies. Ethan Flathers leads the boys sprinters this year, and will also play a crucial part in the their success. He runs the 200 meters and the 400 meters for HHS, and is one of many expected to lead strong state performances. “I am confident in our sprinters this year.” Larson said.. “That we will get points in all three of them this year during the meets (100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter). Although all of the individuals who placed at state a year ago have moved on due to graduation, the boys still have hopefuls. Flathers, Perrodin, Hickman, Teske and Keto all saw state action a year a go, and are looked at to lead the way again this season. HHS also has veterans out like Thomas Kline, Garret Korb and Beau and Adam Briese among others. And even though the girls missed out on placing at the divisional meet a year ago, they too have new and higher goals this season. “I am confident that the girls will place at divisionals this year.” Larson said. “Third place is sort of the minimum for me.” The team lost eight seniors last season, but the Ponies aren’t lacking any upperclassman leadership. Seniors Janelle Job, Kristina Lozono, Sarah Blessum and Kasondra Dawson are all strong athletes for the Ponies, and they will carry the majority of responsibility for the large number of freshman. And though Karla Hellegaard is a junior, she will take on a leadership role for the Ponies as well. “I expect big things out of them (Job, Lozono, Blessum Dawson and Hellegaard).” Larson said. “They are going to have to show all these freshmen how to compete. And hopefully they can get those freshman up there.” The loss of athletes like Hanna Wells and Stacey Sheppard would take a toll on any team, but Larson has the con- fidence in his senior group. They are going to be the anchor of this team, and good production from them during meets is crucial. “We were lucky to lose only a few seniors.” Larson said. “But unfortunately they were good seniors.” Just like the boys, the girls team is looking very strong in the jumping events. Hellegaard participates in the triple and high jump, while Job focuses on the triple jump and Madison Ruff on the high jump. Samantha Evans is only a freshman, but she is also looking strong at the start of the season. Her triple and high jump are as strong as anyone's, and she is one to watch. “I expect good things out of her, coming out of junior high.” Larson said. Evans also participates in the one mile, and is part of the girls state hopefuls. Joining her is Blessum in the 800 meters and Hellegaard with her triple and high jump events. If the HHS track team had a weakness as a whole, it would have to be in the throwing events. Robert The Boy and Grayson Winsor were outstanding throwers for the Pony boys last season, and they leave a hole in the lineup. The Pony boys also lost one of their best allaround athletes in former state champion sprinter Kyle Finneman. But the weakness for the Ponies doesn’t come because there is no one there to fill the large shoes, but because of how young they are. “It’s not their fault.” Larson said. “It just takes some time to develop.” Overall, the Ponies are hopeful and ready. They have the talent needed to compete for a Central A, and state title, and they are ready for Saturday and the first meet of the season. “Right now I always like to think of ourselves as in the hunt for the title.” Larson said. “But you kind of don’t know where you are at or how other teams have improved until you get a couple of meets in. As of right now we are all in the mix and we will see where we are at the beginning of May. But we feel good and everyone feels confident."