It has been nearly a decade since the Havre High wrestling team hasn’t claimed the No. 1 spot at the divisional tournament. And If the Blue Ponies have anything to say about it, things won’t be any different this weekend.
For the last two years, there was talk that the Belgrade panthers had what it would take to overtake the dominating Ponies, but it didn’t happen. Last season the Ponies again emerged as the league’s top team, earning 276 points and the No. 1 finish over Belgrade who finished with 210.
Saturday, the Ponies will compete in the Central A divisional wrestling tournament in Lewistown. This time the Ponies are a clear cut favorite to win the team title, leaving the Panthers, Browning Indians, Lewistown Golden Eagles and Livingston Rangers fighting it out for second place.
“I think Belgrade would like to take a run at us again,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “But we are confident with the kids we’ve got wrestling. Our kids are wrestling as sharp as they have all year long, and I expect that we will do very well.”
Belgrade has been strong the last couple of seasons, and should be the toughest test for the Ponies. The Panthers house some talented seniors on the roster, and are known for wrestling very hard, especially in the post season. But if the Ponies wrestle well, they should have no problem earning the top spot once again. The rest of the conference is down this season and will be lucky to push a handful of kids into the state tournament.
The Ponies are taking 17 wrestlers to Lewistown this weekend, but are still open at two weights. They are doubled up at 105 pounds, 160 pounds, 189 pounds, and 215 pounds, but will wrestle the post season open at 119 pounds and at 125 pounds.
“Anytime you leave two weights open,” Filius said. “You have two weights where you aren’t scoring any points. Everybody gets to take four extra, and we would be better off if we filled those weights, but we just don’t have the kids to do it. But the biggest thing is, we are starting to gel as a unit. The best teams I have had always had a good sense of team and cared about each other, and these kids are really coming together in that aspect.”
Wrestling this weekend for HHSD will be 98-pounder Keegan Kennelly (24-3) ranked No. 1 in Class A, 105-pounder’s Logan Pleninger (21-4) and Grayson Brenna (27-5) ranked fourth and second, respectively, 112-pounder Dylan Stewart (30-8) ranked sixth, 130-pounder Thomas Gruber (27-5) ranked third, 135-pounder Gilbert Bara (23-14), 140-pounder Kody Pribyl (22-15), 145-pounder Gunnar Aageson (12-21), 152-pounder Jordan Schroeder (18-10), 160-pounder’s JT Belcourt (19-15) ranked sixth and Jayson Kohler (11-7), 171-pounder Jake Williams (20-14) ranked fourth, 189-pounder’s Grant Pattison (30-4) ranked first and Jace Billy (17-3), 215-pounders Tyler Adams (29-5) ranked second and Travis Adams (14-4), and heavyweight Dustin Odegard (18-8).
Brenna, Stewart, Pattison, and Kennelly have been the most consistent grapplers for the Ponies this season, and they lead a very talented lineup. Pattison has been ranked No. 1 all season long at 189 pounds, but is just one of many wrestlers the Ponies expect to dominate this weekend and move on to the state tournament.
“They just have to do what we have been working on in the room,” Filius said. “We have been going hard, and if we wrestle well in our neutral, we should be all right. We just need to do the same thing we have done all year, only better. I would like to think we can get every kid through to state. That is my expectation and I think every kid is capable of that.”
This weekend should kick-start another run at a state title for the Ponies. If they can get the majority of their wrestlers into the state tournament next weekend, the Ponies have to like their chances.
HHS will take on the rest of the Central A on Saturday in Lewistown. The top four grapplers from each weight class advance to next weekend’s Class A state tournament in Billings.