BUTTE — Unfortunately things just didn’t fall into place for the Havre High wrestling team this weekend. But in a fight for the state championship, Duell Stadel, Eli Hinebauch and Casey Schaub led the way for the Blue Ponies.
Friday and Saturday the Central A Blue Ponies competed at the Class A state tournament at the Butte Civic Center in Butte. And like Stadel, Hinebauch, and Schaub have done so often, the three highlighted the Ponies' roster once again.
Havre was competing for its fifth straight team title, but came up just short. The Ponies finished second with 186 points, while being outscored by Laurel with 198.
But helping lead the Ponies to a solid No. 2 finish, Stadel and Hinebauch both earned individual state championships. Schaub came close to an individual title, but finished in a strong second.
With Stadel’s No. 1 finish, he capped off an undefeated season as well as earned back-to-back state championships. Last year Stadel won at 112 pounds.
In round one Stadel pinned Aaron Seefeldt of Libby in 1:16. And in the quarterfinals Stadel earned another win by fall, this time over Cole Campbell of Hardin in 2:45. In the semifinals Stadel continued his domination in the form of an 11-3 major decision over Sal Baccaro of Columbia Falls.
But Stadel’s ultimate goal was a title, and earning a win over Bryce Weatherston of Belgrade, he did just that. Weatherston is a very tough competitor and has given Stadel some trouble in the past, but after Stadel defeated Weatherston a week ago at divisionals, he was able to do so again on Saturday.
Stadel took a 2-1 lead in the first period. But in the second period Stadel added to his total with a reversal and takedown, taking a 6-3 lead at the end of the period. Neither Stadel or Weatherston scored in the third period, resulting in the 6-3 decision for Stadel.
“It feels great,” Stadel said. “I have worked all year for this (championship). I have worked ten times harder than the years before and I am just glad it paid off. But it was very tough, Bryce Weatherston has beaten me in the past, but these last couple times I have wrestled him I have come out on top.”
Hinebauch dominated the state mats this weekend, even earning the tournament's quick pin award.
In round one, Hinebauch pinned Laurel’s Jesse Albrecht in 1:30. And in the quarterfinals Hinebauch pinned Dillon’s Kody Heard in just 45 seconds. The semifinals meant another pin for Hinebauch, this time coming in 2:38 over Dillon’s Dilan Starkel.
In the championship round Hinebauch’s dominance continued. And though he didn’t win by way of fall, Hinebauch grabbed an 8-0 major decision over Corvallis' Riley Nagel. A first period takedown got Hinebauch off to a 2-0 start, and a second period escape led to a 3-0 lead. And in the third period Hinebauch scored on another takedown and near fall to earn the 8-0 win.
This year’s title followed two straight years of No. 2 finishes for Hinebauch, a huge hurdle finally.
“After the last two years it feels really, really good to be a state champion,” Hinebauch said. “I had wrestled most everybody I wrestled this weekend already and Rex Martin and Riley Nagel were the only two kids that I thought were good enough to beat me, but it feels good to win.”
Schaub battled his way into the finals, but didn’t quite get the results he had hoped for. After winning by forfeit in round one, Schaub pinned Layne Johnson of Miles City in 1:21 in the quarterfinals and earned an 11-5 major decision over Matt Merenz of Dillon in the semifinals. Once in the championships, Schaub led Cole McArthur of Ronan 4-2 in the first period after a takedown and near fall. But in the second period McArthur earned an escape and takedown to take the 5-4 lead. Schaub battled in the third, but McArthur grabbed another takedown and a 7-4 lead. With 55 seconds left in the match Schaub brought the score to 7-6 on reversal, but McArthur stayed strong and earned an escape and reversal, handing Schaub the 10-6 decision loss.
“Hinebauch was dominating and so was Stadel,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “Both of those kids are just phenomenal and just compete, very hard nosed. And Schaub was out with a shoulder injury for three weeks during the season and did a great job. We let one takedown get away from us in the finals, but he wrestled well.”
This year marked the sixth straight year in which Havre has sent at least two wrestlers to the finals, and for more than a decade now, the Ponies have brought home at least one individual championship from the state tournament.