Every sports team or franchise has somebody who is labeled the face of the program. This person exudes excellence, they practice hard, they compete hard and they are successful at every level.
And for the Havre High Blue Pony wrestling team, at 119 pounds, this person is senior Duell Stadel.
Stadel has everything it takes to be a good teammate, an outstanding leader and an even better competitor. He is a four year varsity letter winner and has placed at state the last three years, including a state championship at 112 pounds a year ago. Stadel has a chance to earn back-to-back individual titles this weekend in Butte at the Class A State Wrestling Tournament, as well as, if the streak continues, be a part of the Blue Ponies' fifth straight team title.
“He’s put in all the work he needs to do,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “He just has to go out and wrestle. We have paid our dues, now it’s time to go out and collect, that’s where he is out. He has had as good of work ethic as anybody we have ever had in the room. He really got broke in right working out with Chris Recio (former Havre High great) for two years, and that got passed down and now Stadel is passing that down. He has been a tremendous worker and that’s what it’s all about.”
Stadel made an impact the very first year he stepped on the mat for the Ponies.
Coming from Harlem, Stadel transferred into Havre and grabbed a third-place finish at 98 pounds his freshman year. And as a sophomore he returned to state and grabbed another third-place finish, this time at 105 pounds. His No. 1 finish at 112 pounds last season surpassed his already impressive list of credentials, and he has a shot at doing so again this season at 119 pounds.
“This will probably be my biggest accomplishment,” Stadel said. “If I can get a second state title, my career as a high school wrestler will be even more awesome. The best thing has been my team, I think I have the best coaching staff in the state and coming here my freshman year has made a big difference. I have improved so much.”
And though it has been a successful road, it hasn’t always been an easy one for Stadel. Work ethic isn’t always easy to find in a high school athlete. But for Stadel, that’s what makes his story so intriguing. His goal was to be a great wrestler and with overwhelming success, he has accomplished just that. For the last four years he has worked hard, probably harder than most high school athletes across the state. And only losing one match in the last two years, many would say his work has paid off. Stadel lost a match to an Idaho grappler last season at the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic in Missoula.
“A lot of people have problems with once they get in a dominant position, they like to coast,” Stadel said. “But the way I see it, I can get better every day as long as I push harder and harder in practice. That’s what it takes to get where I am at right now.”
There is no doubt that Stadel is the type of kid you want in your corner. His success pushers others to succeed, and his actions definitely speak louder than his words.
Freshman wrestler Nate Kennelly has a rare opportunity to learn from an elite athlete. Kennelly has wrestled in the varsity lineup at 105 pounds all season long and has earned his way into the state tournament as a No. 2 seed. With someone like Stadel to learn from, there is not saying what Kennelly is capable of over the next few years.
“A lot of your leaders are boisterous and ‘follow me’,” Filius said. “But that’s not Duell. It’s more like ‘do what I am doing’. He is dirty dog, street tough and he does it everyday. He is a great kid to have around, I have had four years with him and he has a lot of potential.
“He is a good role model to have around,” Kennelly added. “It is just good to have somebody at the level he is at around, you always see things he is doing and that helps. You can pick up even little things he does and he is such a good role model to the younger kids.”
And being a role model and leader of this program is something Stadel has made a conscious effort of doing, something that hasn’t been easy since a lot of fans across the state have assumed the Ponies have sort of dropped in the ranks the last couple years.
“I was in that position once, a freshman in the varsity lineup,” Stadel said. “I was the green one on the team, but the captains kept me going. I try to do the same thing with Nate because I was just like him, small and kind of forced in to the varsity lineup. But Nate is doing a heck of a job. And I learned from my past captains, they have kept the flame going. Last year we were picked to finish second also, but Kent (Pattison), Brett (Normandy) and Mitch (Schnittgen) did a heck of a job keeping us going. That’s what I try to do, take the lead over from them.”
Stadel has accomplished a lot in the last three, almost four complete seasons as a Blue Pony wrestler. From finishing No. 1 at the Central A divisional tournament all four years, to competing for his back-to-back individual title at the state tournament. But if you ask Stadel, being a part of a program that has a shot at claiming its fifth straight state team title, that’s just as important as anything he has accomplished on his own.
“That is always on my mind,” Stadel said. “I always think about a state championship for me, but for the team to get one would be huge. Going through your high school career No. 1, that rarely happens. That’s what motivates me and my teammates.”