It may not look like it or feel like it outside, but spring has sprung, and that means a brand new Havre High boys and girls track and field season.
A late and unwelcome winter storm may have put a damper on the new spring sports season, but the Blue Ponies are still hard at work. And while the track may still be somewhat of a soggy mess at ties, HHS participants and new head coach Trever VanCampen are eager to get a new season underway.
VanCampen has been a part of the track and field team in the past as the sprinters coach, but now holding the head coaching reigns, VanCampen is hoping to stay competitive, as well as bring the Pony program back into a dominant seat.
“We would like to turn the track program around and make it a returning a powerhouse every year,” VanCampen said. “It has kind of slipped the last couple of years and numbers have been down, but we would really like to get it back to the level it once was. Right now numbers are everything. As we see other schools continuing to grow, and schools such as ourselves lose numbers, we are really seeing the power shift. Havre has the talent, but right now we just lack the numbers, and we are just trying to recruit kids and get them to a competing level to bring home hardware.”
As of now, 73 individuals have signed up to participate in track. But with this particular sport tending to lose numbers as the first couple of weeks pass, the Ponies are hoping to maybe avoid that.
The Central A division is always a tough one. and being outnumbered year after year, the Ponies find it even harder to compete as numbers decrease.
Making up this year's boys and girls squad will be Justin After Buffalo, Garrett Agulliard, Michael Andley, William Arocha, Kade Barsotti, Ty Bauer, Darlena Bradley, Mason Case, Jaye Ceynar, Katie Christianson, Mathew Cole, Samuel Curtis, Joey DeVries, Garrett Dolezal, Natt Emge, Sammy Evans, Desmond Fialkosky, Peyton Filius, Evan Flathers, Zeena Fox, Kaylie Gilman, Paighton Gilman, Dakotarose Greshock, Matthew Hanley, Madison Hanson, Thurman Holdsclaw, Chazley Hulett, Brooke Jappe, Rachel Karnauskas, Patrick Kinniburgh, Mikell Kinsella, Patricia Kinsella, Carlee Klimas, Marc Klimas, Tyson Kultgen, Brandy Lambourne, Chasun Law, Megan Malone, Rebekah Martin, Travis McConnell, Somer Measerly, Richard Molyneaux, Skylen Morsette, Kendall Murie, Ryan Myers, Jennifer Nordgulen, Trent Nystrom, Bryant O’Leary, Haley Ohm, Alexia Olson, Zachary Plum, Carson Pollington, Larissa Price, Michael Richards, Kade Rismon, Megan Robertson, Samuel Smith, Marvin Spotted Bird, Doranda Standing Rock, Corderro Strickland, Kiana Slump, Davis Telgeler, Kelly Teske, Dolan Tuss, Derek VanDessel, Ashlynn Van Voast, Mikayla Voeller, Skylar Vukasin, Lacey Waid, Levi Waverick, Colton Wedding and Sawyer Zugel.
Right now, the Pony girls have a couple of strong events that will hopefully give them an edge over the competition. The girls team has over a dozen freshmen, most of them signed up to make their mark in the long distance events. And being led by veteran seniors Jappe and Rebecca Martin, and juniors Mikell Kinsella and Evans, the distance races should have several Blue Pony powerhouses. Freshman Filius, and sophomores Price and Nordgulen have already shown a lot of promise and the competition should be good just fighting for spots with so many girls eager to run the 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter races. Christianson made her name well known last year as a freshman and should be another strong runner for the Ponies this season.
The girls long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault should also be strong for the Ponies this season. Evans returns with the always-coveted state experience under her belt as the teams leader in the high jump, long jump and triple jump.
Freshmen Ohm, Fox, Slump and Measerly should also prove to be key jumpers for the Ponies.
“Sammy Evans is our stud in the jumping events,” VanCampen said, “But with a lot of young girls coming out, we expect some big things out of some them as well.”
Sophomore sprinter Olson should also be a tough competitor this season, as she takes on the 100-meter, 200-meter, short relay and pole vault.
The boys situation is a little bit different. The Ponies don’t have a specific, or even two specific events they should shine in. They lack slightly in numbers, but still have good athletic ability, young and vetreran, scattered all over the track team.
Murie is a returning state runner and will continue his dominance in the long distance races for the Ponies. Sophomore Klimas will also be key in the long distance races this season, while senior Barsotti will impact the 400 meters and both relay teams and senior Bauer will impact the 400 and 800-meter races.
In the sprints, Strickland and Kultgen will lead the way in the 100 and 200-meters as well as the short relay. Strickland will also shine in the long jump. But while junior Case may be new to the track program, he may very well challenge for the title of the fastest sprinter on the team, as he has already shown VanCampen a lot of promise in the 100 and 200-meter sprints.
In other events, Plum returns as the teams most experienced pole-vaulter, while Nystrom should shine in the throwing events and Holdsclaw should give the Ponies an edge in the high jump, triple jump and long jump this season.
Rismon, a freshman also gives the Ponies a new look in the javelin, long jump and shot put as a strong up and coming freshman.
Overall, both the boys and girls squads would love to win the divisional championship this year and qualify as many kids to the state meet as possible. But as the Ponies continue to rebuild the program, the first step is to just compete. They have the talent to do so, but keeping their numbers will be key as they face an always-tough schedule with meets in and against Lewistown, CMR, Belgrade, Malta, Whitefish, Livingston and Glasgow.
“Our goal this year is to compete and to bring home hardware,” VanCampen said. “On the girls side we are really confident, and on the boys side we aren’t as deep, but we can still compete. We just want to compete hard, gain some experience and really improve on our program so we can continue to build throughout the next several seasons.”
The HHS schedule was supposed to start on Saturday with time trials in Cut Bank, but the late surge in winter weather has put a damper on those plans. Hopefully the Blue Ponies will get their season underway next Saturday.