By Rob Everingham
"This will be a big test," said Havre High head wrestling coach Scott Filius about this weekend's trip west to the Cut Bank Invitational.
The Blue Ponies will be competing in the 31st Annual Cut Bank Invite.
Class A powerhouses Ronan and Columbia Falls will be in attendance.
The biggest match of the tournament should be at 130 pounds when No. 1-ranked Caleb Schaeffer of Columbia Falls meets No. 2-ranked Nick Holt of Havre.
The two have not met this season, and it could be a preview of the state tournament individual title match.
Both Ronan and Columbia Falls were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in this week's Class A coaches poll. Also in attendance at Cut Bank will be No. 1 Conrad from Class B-C. There will be 26 teams at the meet.
"It should be a fun tournament," Filius said.
Havre will enter the tournament with nine wrestlers ranked in the top six in the Central A.
Willie Hulett is ranked No. 1 in the state at 171 pounds. Nick Holt holds down the second spot at 130 pounds. Both Ryan Chagnon, at 98 pounds, and K.P. Fisher, at 152 pounds, are ranked third.
Chad Hedges and Jake Szudera are ranked fourth. Hedges is ranked at 119 pounds and Szudera at 135.
In the 105-pound weight class, Nick Newell is ranked fifth. To round out to top six both Aaron Jenson at 145 pounds, and Garrett Hanson at 160 pounds, are No. 6 seeds in their respective weight classes.
Filius said this will meet will give them an opportunity to see what they have gained over the break.
The Blue Ponies did wrestle a dual in Lewistown on Tuesday night, but took just half of the JV and half of the varsity to this meet.
Filius said the Cut Bank meet will let them know what needs to be done from this point. He did say they need to be in it this weekend if they want to have any shot for the title in February.
The Blue Ponies' goal this weekend is to win.
"We have the ability and we'll see what we can do," said Filius.
The Cut Bank Invitational start time has been pushed back two hours to allow time for a service in memory of Fairfield wrestling coach Steve Diedrich, who died earlier this week.
Consolation rounds start at 6:30 p.m. and quarterfinals are at 8 p.m. Saturday semifinal action starts at 10 a.m., while the finals are slated to start at 6 p.m.