It’s now or never for the Havre High boys and girls golf teams.
In fact, the only thing which stands between the Blue Ponies and a trip to the Class A state tournament is, 18 holes at the Livingston Golf Course.
On Saturday, the Ponies will play in the Central A Divisional Tournament in Livingston, with berths in the upcoming state tourne
y on the line.
Overall, Havre has been a team on the rise this season. For the most part, on the boys and girls sides, the varsity players have steadily improved their scores, all the while playing on more difficult courses each week.
Havre’s last regular season test came last week when the Ponies played at Eaglerock in Billings and the famed Laurel Golf Club in Laurel. Both tracks were tough tests and third-year head coach McKinsey Rodriguez felt like both courses prepared his team well for the postseason.
And while Livingston isn’t quite as difficult as Laurel, Saturday’s tournament will be as pressure-packed as any of the Pony golfers have faced this season, or perhaps in their careers. There are only two team spots available for the boys and two for the girls, while there are 15 individual spots into the state tournament open to each.
So scoring will be at a premium.
And scoring is something the Havre High girls team has done consistently well as of late. The Ponies finished both tournaments last week very strong and have a chance to contend for a trophy in Livingston.
The Havre girls lineup is set with Boston Swensen, Katie Beck, Payton Howard, Randi Gabrielsen and Julie Kadrmas. Swensen and Beck have had the most top finishes for the Ponies this season, while Beck has shot personal best scores on two occasions this season. That duo has the only divisional experience for the Ponies, while Howard and Gabrielsen are just freshmen. However, both players really lowered their scores and have a great chance to help Havre earn a trophy on Saturday. Kadrmas is also making her first trip to the divisional tournament, but she too has steadily improved over the course of the season.
Getting the team to advance to state and into the trophies won’t be easy though. Havre has consistently been even with rival Lewistown all season long, and the Ponies and Eagles will likely be battling for the second spot. That’s because Livingston is a girl’s golf power and the Rangers are very strong again this season. They also have the advantage of playing on their home course this weekend. Belgrade is also tough, which makes the girls event very difficult, both in the team race and in the individual competition.
On the boys side, Havre is a team which cannot be overlooked. The Ponies have three seniors, all of which have been in this Central A position before. They also have two freshmen who have loads of talent, but who have had their ups and downs this season.
The HHS lineup is led by seniors Ramsey Drew and David Denny, both of which made the Central A tourney a year ago. Fellow senior Spencer Ross is also a veteran playing at the No. 5 spot for HHS, while freshmen Jeff Miller and Jerod Boles are No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Interestingly, Havre has been really balanced this season. All five players have finished as the No. 1 Havre golfer at a different tournament this season, and on three different occasions, at least three players have finished together in a Top 10. So there’s no doubt the Ponies bring a team capable of putting together a great team score this weekend.
But in order to that, at least four of the Ponies will likely have to break 90. Belgrade is the front-runner Saturday and the Panthers have four players capable of coming in under 90 and three who could possibly shoot in the 70’s. Like the girls side, Lewistown has been Havre’s main competition all season long, and will likely be again on Saturday. The Eagles have perhaps the top individual player in the field in Jesse Kynett, so it will come down to which team (Ponies or Eagles) gets the best scores from the bulk of its lineup.
And if the Pony boys and girls can come in second or better in the team race, then all five boys and all five girls will make it to the state tournament and Havre can compete for team titles there. However, if HHS fails to get the team score it needs to finish second or better on the boys or girls side, then only those HHS players who finish in the Top 15 individually Saturday will move on to the Class A state tournament, which will be held next Friday and Saturday at the famed Old Works Golf Course in Anaconda.
Saturday’s Central A Divisional golf tournament will get underway at 9:30 a.m. in Livingston. For a preview of the Livingston Golf Course, see a related story in today’s Havre Daily News.