By Tiffany L. Rehbein
Could Havre fans please have a boys' and a girls' State Class A title for $100, Alex?
And two state titles is what they got.
Both the boys and girls Havre Blue Pony swim teams brought home the State Class A championship trophy from Hardin on Saturday.
The boys finished with 76 points, while the girls finished with 36 points to sew up the title. It was the first girls' swimming title in 26 years.
"It was most wonderful," Havre head coach Chris O'Donnell said. "Our kids swam outstanding the first day. They came back on Saturday and they were swimming even better than they did Friday. It was just really great."
The Hardin Bulldogs boys' and girls' teams finished in second place with 32 and 14 points, respectively.
Billings Central was hampered by illness, Colstrip did not boast a girls' team this year, and the other teams did not advance swimmers from Friday.
"Friday, we just swam really well," O'Donnell said. "On Saturday, we were sitting really good to win the championship."
The boys' team captured their third title in four years and, with the win over Hardin, redeemed themselves after falling short of the title last season.
The Hardin won the boys' title last season by four points over Havre.
Twenty teams were at the state tournament with more than 300 swimmers participating.
Maureen Porter, a sophomore at Havre High, was the highest finisher with a fifth-place mark in the 50 free style. She finished the race in a career-best 26.35.
"I think it's really great that we won," Porter said. "It had been since 1974, and I think it's really great that both the girls and the boys won."
Porter also placed 10th in the 100 free with another career-best time of 59.24.
"We had a pretty good idea we were going to win, but there was always the chance that we couldn't," Porter said. "It was pretty exciting."
Porter finished higher than she did last year at state.
"Right after our 400 free relay, our coach said, 'Well, nice job. Let's watch the boys and get our state trophies.' Before that, we knew we were in the lead by about 15 points, but the relay sealed it."
The 400 free style relay -- comprised of Elizabeth Stuker, Erin Lynch, Porter, and Maria Gilleece -- placed 10th with a time of 4:12.13.
The girls' 200 medley relay -- Lynch, Cara Holmquist, Stuker, Porter -- finished seventh with a time of 2:03.95.
Stuker placed 11th in the 100 fly with a time of 1:08.54.
"It was so cool," Stuker said. "We jumped up and down and screamed. We were pretty confident from how we had done at previous meets, so we were pretty confident we would win. It was totally cool."
Stuker is a sophomore at Chinook High School and was given approval to swim for Havre since Chinook does not offer a swimming program.
"This was my first year of swimming for Havre, and the people up there are incredibly awesome, but this was more incredible," Stuker said. "There are so many people I need to thank, because this has been one of the best experiences I have ever had."
Stuker also finished 12th in the 100 breast stroke with a time of 1:17.20.
"The entire meet is something that I will remember forever," Stuker said. "I am really grateful that I got to swim for Havre. "I think we are really going to miss our seniors so much. They are wonderful people."
Gilleece and Holmquist were two seniors on the relay teams who will leave holes to be filled after graduation.
"I thought it was really cool to win," Gilleece said. "It was pretty exciting, and we knew we just had to focus on our races to do well."
On the boys' side, Ryan Bennett notched the highest place with a sixth-place finish in the 100 backstroke with a time of 1:00.92.
He was also a member of the 200 medley relay, with Tyler Croft, Nick Porter, and and Donovan Ewing, that finished sixth with a time of 1:49.02.
The boys' 400 free style relay placed fifth with a personal-best time of 3:38.45.
"I was pretty happy to win state," Brian Ehlert said. He is a senior who placed 11th in the 500 free with a personal-best time of 6:01.33.
"I was hoping to win state my senior year," Ehlert said. "We had lost last year by four points, and it was pretty exciting that we won this year."
During the first two state championship years, Ehlert did not qualify for state his freshman year, and was a member of the relays his sophomore year. This year, with an individual race on the line, Ehlert was ready.
"It is my last year of swimming, plus I made it into the finals in an individual event and I felt I had more of a part in the victory, Ehlert said."
Nick Porter placed 10th in the 200 free with a time of 2:01.06 and 12th in the 100 free with a time of 53.52.
"It is a great feeling," Porter said. "The team has been so close and it is great that both the boys and the girls won."
This state title marks the third for Porter, who had been on the team during his four years at Havre High.
"Coach Chris has really done a great job with us," Porter said. "We concentrated on swimming hard and staying positive."
While the both the boys and the girls won the State Class AA titles, the Class A competition was tough.
"It was pretty intense," Porter said. "Everybody was set on doing their best and getting personal-best records. The competition was pretty intense."
Tyler Croft, a junior, finished seventh in the 100 butterfly with a personal-best time of 58.91.
"It was exciting that we won," Croft said. "I thought it was neat to win it."
This win tallied Croft's second state championship.
"It felt better than the first one," he said. "I did more this year and I placed higher this year."
Donovan Ewing finished ninth in the 100 fly with a time of 1:05.5, while the 200 free relay, comprised of Clif Cunningham, Ehlert, JJ Albertson, and James Howland, finished ninth with a time of 1:45.26.
The Ponies will lose 12 seniors to graduation.
Female Team Scores
1. Bozeman, 218; 2. Flathead, 213.50; 3. Billings West, 201.50; 4. Billings Senior, 186.50; 5. Great Falls High, 106; 6. Missoula Hellgate, 103; 7. CM Russell, 72; 8. Missoula Sentinel, 45.50; 9. Havre, 36; 10. Billings Skyview, 33; 11. Butte High, 25; 11. Helena High, 25; 13. Helena Capital, 23; 14. Hardin, 14
Male Team Scores
1. Bozeman, 200; 2. Flathead, 186; 3. Missoula Hellgate, 176; 4. Billings Senior, 168; 5. Missoula Sentinel, 120; 6. Helena Capital, 91; 7. Billings West, 86; 8. Billings Skyview, 81; 9. Havre, 76; 10. Great Falls High, 50; 11. Hardin, 32; 12. Helena High, 16; 13. Butte High, 10; 14. CM Russell, 8
Havre 76, Hardin 32
200 Medley -- 6. Ryan, Tyler, Nick, Donovan, 149.02
200 Free -- 10. Nick Porter, 2:01.06
100 Fly -- 7. Tyler Croft, 58.91; 9. Donovan Ewing, 1:05.50
100 Free -- 2. Nick Porter, 53.52
500 Free -- 11. Brian Ehlert, 6:01.33
200 Free Relay -- 9. Clif, Brian, JJ, James, 1:45.26
100 Back -- 6. Ryan Bennett, 1:00.92
100 Breast -- 9. Tyler Croft, 1:05.82
400 Free Relay -- 5. Ryan, Tyler, Nick, Donovan, 3:38.45
Havre 36, Hardin 14
200 Medley -- 7. Erin, Cara, Elizabeth, Maureen, 2:03.95
50 Free -- 5. Maureen Porter, 26.35
100 Fly -- 11. Elizabeth Stuker, 1:08.84
100 Free -- 10. Maureen Porter, 59.24
100 Breast -- 12. Elizabeth Stuker, 1:17.20
400 Free Relay -- 10. Elizabeth, Erin, Maureen, Marra, 4:12.13