When the season begins for the Havre High wrestling team, the Ponies face top talent seemingly non-stop.
Just one week after a No. 4 finish at the Mining City Duals in Butte, the No. 1 Class A Ponies turn right around to attend the CMR Holiday Classic in Great Falls Friday and Saturday.
It was good for the Ponies to see the state's top teams and individuals last weekend in a dual format, and now the Ponies are looking forward to seeing most of that same talent in a tournament format.
“We need to wrestle a tournament style format,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “And that’s the good thing about the CMR Holiday Classic. With the dual format you have all of your buddies and friends right there with you, but in a tournament format you kind of have to do it by yourself. It’s definitely a different deal.”
And with the CMR tournament housing some of the top programs from the Class AA, Class A and Class B-C, the Ponies will ultimately see some of the same matchups they saw a week ago.
Glasgow, Chinook, Conrad and Forsyth are amongst the top B-C talent that will make the trip, as is Belgrade and Ronan from the Class A. But other top talent such as Bozeman, Flathead, Glacier, Helena, Billing Senior, Helena Capital, Corvallis, Skyview, West and Big Sky should also be in attendance.
“The competition is as good as any tournament in the state,” Filius said.
Havre is still in the beginning stages of its season, meaning the Ponies are still focused on themselves. But with Belgrade also wrestling in Great Falls this weekend, the Ponies will keep an eye on the conference opponent and its individuals.
“More than anything,” Filius said. “I just try to focus on what we can do better. But yes, we are always aware of where they (Belgrade) are at, just as I am sure they are aware of what we are up to. But more or less, we are just going to try and make ourselves as good as we can be.”
The HHS lineup is almost the same as it was last weekend. The only changes will be at 215 pounds and 285. Josh Salapich will step in at 215 and Tyler Adams will move up from 215 to heavyweight.
Nate Kennelly (105), Gilbert Bara (112), Duell Stadel (119), Thomas Gruber (125), Zack Smith (130), Dillon Seely (135), David Borris (140), Eli Hinebauch (152), Kameron Pribyl (160), Casey Schaub (171), and Jared Ruttkofsky (189) will round out the Pony lineup.
HHS comes into the CMR tourney as the two-time defending champions, but the Ponies are more focused on improving this week.
“You still want them to improve on last week,” Filius said. “But I think that’s about it. But we do want our veterans to continue to take that next step and compete at a high level this weekend. They have been wrestling all summer long and their entire high school careers, they just need to go out and do what they have been doing. The just need to compete hard.”
The CMR tournament runs all day Friday and Saturday at the CMR Fieldhouse in Great Falls.