Another season of winter sports hopefully means another year of dominating wrestling from the Havre High Blue Ponies. And with the start of the new season here, only time will tell.
This weekend the Ponies start things off with their annual Havre Invite at the Havre High gymnasium. Today's action will begin at 1 and Saturday will start at 9 a.m. when things will really heat up as some of the top grapplers in the state will face off.
Cut Bank, Shelby, Chester/J-I, Chinook, Malta, Lewistown and Browning always bring their best talent, but this year five more teams will make the trip. CMR, Great Falls High, Glasgow, Libby and Big Sandy join the Invite, and take this annual tournament to a whole new level.
“We have five new teams coming this year,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “So things should be a lot more competitive and a lot more fun. And we have always had great individuals here at this invite, but not a lot of great teams. This will make the weight classes a lot deeper and should make the tournament a lot of fun.”
The Ponies have dominated high school wrestling for the last decade. And though they were able to grab the No. 2 finish at the Class A state tournament last season, not even the Ponies know what they are capable of this season. They have nearly 40 kids out this season, including 10 freshmen. They also return talent in the form of Eli Hinebauch, Casey Schaub, Kameron Pribyl, Tyler Adams, Grant Pattison, Dillon Seely, Jake Williams, Thomas Gruber, Gilbert Bara and Kolton Lodge.
And while getting to start a new season on their home mats is a plus, they know they have a lot of work a head of them if they want to unveil the potential of this years squad.
“It is always nice to start in your own gym,” Filius said. “And we don’t have any idea of where we are at as a team and we will find that out this first weekend of competition. We have more to test ourselves than usual so that is nice. After this weekend we really get an idea of what we have for a team.”
It won’t matter who the Ponies face this weekend, they can expect a worthy opponent. CMR and Great Falls have some of the top wrestlers in the state, as does Chinook with Jorell Jones and Ben Stroh strolling into town this weekend. And with the final roster and weights still yet to be decided, this is as good a time as any for the Ponies to make those final decisions.
HHS hasn’t had their wrestle offs yet this season. There are a lot of holes in the final lineup, and a lot of kids wanting in, giving this weekends matchups extra importance to the Pony grapplers.
But for the Ponies to find success in their home and season debuts, they have to wrestle with the same effort and enthusiasm they have been in practice. They have already shown great improvement from practices and summer camps, now they just have to put that preparation to work.
“The main thing is we just have to figure out where we are at,” Filius said. “We have to find out if we have to work on top, bottom or neutral. We have put a lot of time into bottom and neutral and not a whole lot on top, so that is hopefully what we will see as the case.”
HHS will use this weekend to propel themselves into the rest of the season. When the dust settles on the two day invite, the Ponies should have a better idea of their identity, as well as who can step up and produce this season. Each kid will get to wrestle, and from there the final spots and weights will be decided.
Looking for a spot in the Ponies’ lineup this weekend will be Gunner Aageson, Adams (215), Bara, Keenan Bibeau, Jace Billy, Keenan Blackbird, David Borris, Wyatt Brandal, Grayson Brenna, John Chinadle, Matt Emge, Kyle Gooch, Gruber (130), Hinebauch (152), Nicholas Howell, Russell Jensen, Kennelly, Jayson Kohler, Riley LaBuda, Kolton Lodge, Sundance Lodge, Michael Matkin, Robert Mooney, Issac Nault, Odegard, Pattison (171), Pribyl (160), Schaub (189), Jordan Schroeder, Dillon Seely (145), Dustin Seely, Noah Seigel, Dylan Stewart and Williams.
Today the action will start at 1 p.m. and on Saturday things will resume at 9 a.m. at the Havre High gymnasium.
Lots of power headed to Havre for wrestling
2011 Havre Invitational
Today at 1 p.m. and Saturday at 9 a.m. at the HHS gymnasium.
Teams include: Class AA CMR and GFH, Class A's Havre, Lewistown, Libby and Browning, Class B-C's Glasgow and Chinook, as well as the Hi-Line's Chester/J-I, Harlem and Big Sandy.