With winter break finally coming to an end, the Havre High wrestling team is ready to get back into action.
But instead of rushing right into heavy competition, the Ponies got sort of a warm up on Monday. The Ponies hosted the programs from Chinook, Glasgow, Big Sandy and Chester/J-I in what is being called a glorified practice. There were no fans, referees or scores kept, instead the Ponies just matched up with other kids and got some extra time on the mats.
“You have that long break and you need to wrestle somebody else,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “This was and adlib kind of way to accomplish that, and I think it served its purpose.”
And the extra work should propel the Ponies into the restarting of the season nicely.
Today and Saturday, the Ponies will be in Cut Bank for the Cut Bank Invite. The invite always proves to have tough competition, but fans would have to look back quite a few years to find the last time HHS didn’t emerge as the No. 1 team in the tournament.
“We’re excited to get back on the mat,” Filius said. “It’s been a long break and we are ready to get after it again. We are just going in still trying to get better every week. I think we have won this tournament the last six years, but we have always had some great team battles. Last year was a lot of fun because we won the tournament on the last match.”
Once again, the talent pool should be fairly deep.
A lot of the Hi-Line's top Class B and C schools should be in attendance, as will Browning, Lewistown, Columbia Falls, Glasgow and the Great Falls High junior varsity wrestlers.
HHS is looking to just get better, but they will have to keep a close eye on Glasgow, as they are a heavy favorite in the Class B ranks this season.
Making up the Havre lineup this weekend will be Nate Kennelly (105), Gilbert Bara (112), Duell Stadel (119), Thomas Gruber (125), Zack Smith (130), Dillon Seely (135), Eli Hinebauch (145), Kameron Pribyl (152), Tyler Adams (189), Josh Salapich (215) and Kolton Lodge at Heavyweight.
Freshman Jake Williams will also join the varsity lineup this weekend at 160 pounds. This will be his starting debut, but should do very well for the Ponies.
And the Ponies have been open at 98-pounds all season, but are now open at 140 and 171 with Casey Schaub and Jared Ruttkofsky getting over some slight injury and sickness.
“They are both just a little banged up,” Filius said. “We’ll have to deal with that, but hopefully some of these other guys can step up. And Jake (Williams) is always going to give you a great effort, he is just a great kid.”
It has been several years since the Ponies haven’t returned from Cut Bank victorious, and they will look to keep the streak alive this weekend. And even though they are slightly banged up, and have three open spots, HHS is still confident they can find success if they wrestle to their ability.
“I would like to think that with the kids that we have,” Filius said. “That we have as good of shot as anybody, a better shot than most I would hope.”