If the Mining City Duals weren’t competition enough last weekend for the Havre High wrestling team, the Blue Ponies will surely get their fill of high quality matches this weekend.
A week ago, at the Mining
City Duals in Butte, the Central A Ponies won five of their six duals. It was a great team effort over the two-day stretch, but Friday and Saturday, the Ponies will need the same effort in an individual format at the CMR Holiday Classic. HHS will run into some of the top wrestlers in the state this weekend. Lewistown, Browning and Belgrade will also be there from the Central A, but so will top Class A teams like Laurel. Glasgow, Conrad , Forsyth and Chinook are amongst the top B/C talent that will make the trip, as will other teams such as Great Falls, Kalispell Glacier, Billings Senior, Bozeman, Butte, Billings Skyview, Choteau, Missoula Big Sky, Helena, Helena Capital, Billings West, and dozens more from all across the state.
The Ponies had a streak of four straight tournament championships snapped last season when they finished as the No. 4 team in Great Falls. The Ponies will keep a close eye on Belgrade, as the Panthers led all teams after Friday last season and wound up finishing as the No. 2 team.
“This is always a lot of fun,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “This is our first real big individual tournament and probably the biggest tournament we go to. It is as tough as any tournament we go to, and our kids have to win the matches they can. They have to wrestle hard on the edge of the mat and everything has to come together. But they have to do all that without their teammates, it is easier to perform when you have your team right there, but now they have to do it without that.”
The HHS lineup has changed slightly, but the grapplers making the trip are all capable and expected to perform this weekend.
Making the trip will be Greyson Brenna (98), Dylan Stewart (105), Nate Kennelley (112), Dustin Seely (119), Thomas Gruber (125), Gunnar Aageson (130), Dillon Seely (135), Jordan Schroeder (145), Eli Hinebauch (152), Kameron Pribyl (160), Grant Pattison (171), Casey Schaub (189), Dustin Odegard (215) and Kolton Lodge (285)
Havre is open at 140 pounds with Dillon Seely dropping to 135. And Kolton Lodge moves in as HWT as Tyler Adams will remain out of the lineup with an injury.
Brenna, Stewart, Aageson and Schroeder will all be making their first trip to the Classic. They are young, but have shown they can compete early on.
“All of our young guys,” Filius said. “We need them to not give matches away. If they are going to be in the hunt in February they have to start making strides now, and we are looking for that from all of them. I have been real pleased, this group of kids works real hard, and at some point they are going to get a reward for it, that is just how it works.”
But the Blue Pony veterans have to be ready as well.
With the teams in attendance, they are bound to run into state champion or state contending wrestlers. And the further the Ponies go into the tournament, the tougher the talent. Hinebauch (No. 3), Schaub (No. 3) and Dillon Seely (No. 5) are the only returning Ponies that placed last season at the Holiday Classic. They will be looked at to perform again this trip, but so will the remainder of the lineup, as they continue to grow and improve.
“There is probably going to be multiple state champions in every weight,” Filius said. “So I am sure all of our kids will run into some tough matches and have their hands full before it is all said and done. Our veterans have to have good mat awareness and compete at a high level. Every week it has to raise. You feel like you were at the top of your game the week before, but if you don’t raise it the following week, somebody passes you.”
The CMR Holiday Classic begins Friday morning and runs through Saturday night in Great Falls.