By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The Havre High School boys' and girls' swim teams could easily be the favorites heading into the State Class A championships Friday and Saturday at Hardin.
"We want to win both, and we have an excellent opportunity to do both," Havre head coach Chris O'Donnell said.
Twenty-three swimmers qualified for the state tournament, including nine seniors from the Havre squad.
"The seniors have shown great leadership this year," O'Donnell said. "A few of them on the team are first-year swimmers who have never swum competitively before. They have been absolutely outstanding."
Tom Billingsley and Jennifer Vaughn have continually shaved seconds off their times during the season. Billingsley qualified for state in the 50 yard freestyle with a time of 29.89.
"I think that is just great," O'Donnell said.
Top individual swimmers on the girls' side include Bethanie Keim in the 200 yard freestyle. Her best time was 2:29.0.
Maureen Porter is top in the 50 free with a time of 25.98, and in the 100 freestyle with a time of 58.33.
Elizabeth Stuker swam a 1:08.5 in the 100 butterfly to lead the team.
Jamie Habeger will be tough in the 500 freestyle, qualifying with a time of 7:11.57. Erin Lynch will represent Havre in the 100 backstroke, qualifying with a time of 1:13.44.
Cara Holmquist is No. 1 in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:16.32.
For the boys, Nick Porter will lead the Blue Ponies in the 200 freestyle. His best time is 2:03.98. He will also be top in the 100 freestyle, clocking in a best time of 52.9.
James Howland will get the go in the 200 individual medley, behind a time of 2:42.0. Donovan Ewing will lead Havre in the 50 freestyle, with a best time of 24.5.
Ryan Bennett is top in the 100 butterfly with a time of 59.82. He also qualified in the 100 backstroke, with a time of 1:01.5.
Brian Ehlert will get the go-ahead in the 500 freestyle, behind a time of 6:04.19.
Tyler Croft will start in the top spot in the 100 breaststroke. His qualifying time was 1:05.72.
Hardin boasts some tough individual swimmers on the girls' side, but, as a core team, the Bulldogs fall short for competition.
During the last swim meet at Helena, Havre placed at the top of the Class A schools at the meet, with a combined boys and girls score.
At the Havre Invitational in December, in competition with Hardin and Billings Central, both of whom will be at the state meet, both the boys and the girls won the team title.
On the boys' side, Hardin is the defending state champion, and they will be competing in their home pool, but the Blue Ponies pose a tough core team which could be difficult to beat.
Also present at the meet will be Butte Central and Dillon.