In the first races of the young season, the Havre High boys and girls swim teams found out plenty about themselves by having to go up against two of the elite swimming programs in Montana.
On Saturday afternoon at the Havre Community Pool, the Blue Ponies opened their 2010-11 season by hosting Great Falls High and CMR in a double-dual meet for the 2010 Havre Invitational.
The Havre meet usually features more teams, but because some teams opted not to make the trip to Havre, the three teams swam together, but scored the meet as a double-dual. So while only one race was held in each discipline with multiple heats, scores were split for HHS against CMR and against GFH.
And the Blue Ponies had plenty to be happy with on Saturday.
On the boys side, HHS bested CMR 116-78 while the Bison edged the Ponies 133-97. The Bison and Rustlers swept the Blue Pony girls.
“This was a good first meet for us,” HHS head coach Chris Inman said. “For this being our first meet of the year and for only having a few practices in, I thought all of the kids did a really good job. And they were so excited. Any time they can compete and beat the AA schools, it’s just very exciting for them.”
Individually, Havre had plenty of strong performances in the water.
The Pony boys got a big day from Evan Flathers, who led the Havre charge in the 50 free and the 100 free. Flathers finished second in the 50 free with a time of 28.56, while teammates Jimmy Cox (4th, 29.88), Sawyer Zugel (5th, 30.17) and Taylor Riphenburg (6th, 30.27) followed.
Flathers also stood out in the 100 free, finishing third with a time of 1:07.04. Cox was fourth in the same race and Greg Rhines came in fifth. It was [art of a standout day for the Pony boys in the freestyle races. Derek Van Dessel finished fourth in the 200 free and Desmond Fialkowski came in right behind him in fifth. HHS also placed third and fifth in the 400 free relay and second, fourth and fifth in the 200 free relay. Rhines also swam a first-place time in the grueling 400-meter freestyle.
The Ponies also got points from Courtlain Vukasin, who came in fourth in the 100-meter breaststroke, while the Blue Pony “A” team finished second in the 200 medley relay.
There were also some standout performances on the girls side for HHS Saturday. While the dominating Rustlers beat HHS 196-92 and the Bison swam past the Ponies 179-104, HHS still stood tall in the pool.
Kacie Johnson won the premier event, the 100 freestyle with a time of 1:05.01 while Katie Johnson came in sixth in the same race. Kacie Johnson also came back to finish fourth in the 100 backstroke while Kaity McKnight grabbed a fifth-place finish in that race. Katie Johnson also earned points for the Ponies with a third-place finish in the challenging 200 IM. She finished the race with a time of 3:05.01.
Megan Obrecht was another solid performer for the Pony girls, as expected. Obrecht finished second in the her speciality, the 100-meter breaststroke, coming to the finish with a time of 1:22.44. She also earned a sixth-place finish in the 200 IM.
Like the HHS boys, the Pony girls were very good in the freestyle races in their home pool. McKnight placed sixth in the 50 free, while Samantha French finished fifth and Megan Malisani was sixth in the lengthy 400 free.
HHS relay teams also picked up plenty of points Saturday. The Ponies placed second in the 200 medley relay, while they got both a second and a sixth in the 200 free relay and a fifth-place finish in the 400 free relay.
“I thought the kids swam really hard,” Inman said. “And they did very well against very good competition. The CMR girls have won state four years in a row and the Great Falls High boys are going to be very tough to beat this year. So this meet was really good for our kids because they got to see what they are up against with the AA swimmers in the state.
“And all of our kids who returned this year either met their best times or improved on them from last year,” she added. “So it was a very good day for our team and I thought all of the kids did a really good job.”
Saturday was Havre High’s only home meet of the season. The Ponies will be back in action this weekend in Great Falls.