Postseason tournaments are what wrestling programs work towards during the regular season. All the practices, all the duals and all the matches hopefully lead to one thing, divisional and state championships.
This weekend the Havre High Blue Ponies will take the first step in that direction.
Saturday the Central A Ponies will travel to Belgrade for the Central A Divisional tournament. The Belgrade Panthers, Lewistown Golden Eagles, Livingston Rangers and Browning Indians will also join the Ponies in Belgrade on Saturday, as the competitionwill look to knock the Ponies off of their longtime stay as the No. 1 team in the conference.
The Panthers were a favorite to sneak past the Ponies last season, but the Ponies had other plans as they reclaimed the No. 1 spot. This season the Ponies will look to grab their sixth straight conference title, with the Panthers being their biggest source of competition yet again.
But HHS is ready and excited to make the trip.
“We are as ready as we can be,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “The kids look sharp, we are getting healthy and we are getting kids down to weight. I think we are ready to go.”
Belgrade and Havre are the deepest teams in the Central A, but there is a lot of individual talent to go around.
The Indians and Rangers will struggle across the board, but the Eagles will find some wins. Lewistown has talent like Jim Malone (145), Jeremy Granot (125) and John Chamberlin (140), all of which were ranked in the last coaches poll.
And for the Rangers, they are talented across the board, but are led by Bryce Weatherston (125). The heart of their lineup ranges from 119-pounts to 145-pounds, with some support lighter and heavier. Cameron Alverson (119) and Ethan Sterling (140) will also help the Panthers push the Ponies for the top spot.
“It is going to be a pretty small tournament,” Filius said. “But I think our depth is going to match up well with Belgrade’s and it should be a pretty interesting scrap. I would like to think that we have a good chance of winning, we have done so for last several years, so I would like to think we can keep the pressure on the rest of the conference.”
HHS will take full advantage of their lineup, and will take 19 kids to Belgrade.
Making up the lineup will be Grayson Brenna (98), Dylan Stewart (105), Nate Kennelly (112), Dustin Seely (119), Gilbert Bara (125), Thomas Gruber (130), Gunnar Aageson (130), Matt Emge (135), Dillon Seely (140), Jordan Schroeder (145), Eli Hinebauch (152), Jason Kohler (152), Kameron Pribyl (160), Grant Pattison (171), Jace Billy (171), Casey Schaub (189), Tyler Adams (215), Dustin Odegard (215) and Kolton Lodge (285).
The Ponies have some young talent in the lighter weights and some talent in the heavier weights as well. But where the Ponies have really excelled is with the middle weights such as Dillon Seely, Hinebauch, Pribyl and Schaub. Pattison has also wreslted well as of late and so has Kohler. But for the Ponies to be successful, Filius needs to get production from top to bottom this weekend.
“Since the Cut Bank Invite,” Filius said. “We have beat somebody that has beaten us. If we continue to do that and get a few wins over kids that maybe on paper we shouldn’t, then we will be fine. This time of year we expect to get those. We have been getting that every tournament so that has been nice the last month and a half.”
Havre High will try to grab yet another conference title on Saturday in Belgrade. The top four wrestlers from each weight class will advance to the Class A state tournament next Friday and Saturday in Billings.
Montana Class A Coaches Poll
Teams -- Laurel, Havre, Sidney, Corvallis, Belgrade, Frenchtown, Glendive, Polson, Libby, Lewistown.
98 -- Shon Roberts, Columbia Falls; Grayson Brenna, Havre; Ethan Graves, Sidney; Tyler Ishler, Frenchtown; Clay Stillwagon, Butte Central; Dakota Erickson, Belgrade.
105 -- Dylan Stewart, Havre; Josh Conner, Corvallis; Josh Venema, Corvallis; Zach Wall, Billings Central; Dylan Roby, Libby; Cody Bilbrey, Glendive.
112 -- Gresh Jones, Glen Hensley, Frenchtown; Carlos Quinines, Polson; Tylor Olsen, Corvallis; Tyler Young, Lewistown; Jake MCarthy, Anaconda.
119 -- Cameron Alverson, Belgrade; Karson Kukes, Laurel; Dillon Tennant, Glendive; James Debose, Corvallis; Zach Crase, Libby; Bryant Dorn, Hardin.
125 -- Bryce Weatherston, Belgrade; Jeremy Granot, Lewistown; Tyler Kinn, Glendive; Craig Feistner, Polson; Brody Rooks, Sidney; Cody Lemons, Frenchtown.
130 -- Jordan Stevens, Sidney; Mitch Haugen, Libby; Marty Etchemendy, Miles City; Austin Cannon, Laurel; Caleb Caicedo, Corvallis; Ethan Bristol, Belgrade.
135 -- Cody Ishler, Frenchtown; Lane Lantis, Glendive; Kolter Kukes, Laurel; Kenny Thomas, Corvallis; Jeremy Quinterro, Belgrade; Adam Richardson, Columbia Falls.
140 -- Travis Davis, Corvallis; Dillon Beeler, Glendive; Ethan Sterling, Belgrade; Alex Nystrom, Polson; John Chamberlin, Lewistown; Jordan Delp, Hardin.
145 -- Kyle Lyre, Libby; Jim Malone, Lewistown; Devan Williams, Corvallis; Brandon Sterling, Belgrade; David Preller, Miles City; Jake Lenegar, Dillon.
152 -- Eli Hinebauch, Havre; Tommy Cooper, Laurel; Mike Devlin, Polson; Quincy Jessop, Corvallis; Cole Bilbrey, Glendive; Colter Nevens, Belgrade.
160 -- Kameron Pribyl, Havre; Riley Nagel, Corvallis; Dilan Starkel, Dillon; Dylan Berget, Libby; Sepncer Brost, Sidney; Kevin Pickle, Belgrade.
171 -- Dylan Kramer, Laurel; Grant Pattison, Havre; Ethan Blyth, Lewistown; Josh Folsom, Columbia Falls; Austin Bailey, Libby; David Anderson, Frenchtown.
189 -- Casey Schaub, Havre; Ryan Gosselin, Laurel; Forrest Fortney, Hamilton; Gunner Moe, Libby; Sam Van Beek, Belgrade; Colton Welhaven, Billings Central.
215 -- Austin Boucher, Laurel; Trevor Howe, Laurel; Zeke Koslowsky, Dillon; Tyler Adams, Havre; Jory Stevens, Sidney; Dustin Odegard, Havre.
Hwt. -- Allen Neulib, Sidney; Josiah Clairmont, Polson; Cody Stone-Murphy, Laurel; Donavan Hucke, Dillon; Kolton Lodge, Havre; Drew Rutherford, Browning.