By Kim Staudinger
Thursday night's matchup between Havre and Glasgow wrestlers, who face each other nearly every weekend, was anything but routine. Ryan Chagnon was there to cheer his former teammates on and his presence was felt by everybody.
When Chagnon walked into the gym with his mother, Ginger, during the junior varsity matches, everyone in the gym stopped and watched him walk to his seat alongside the other Blue Pony wrestlers. Chagnon cheered on his friends throughout the dual and motioned advice to them.
Chagnon was injured in a car accident last February and has been in rehabilitation since.
The meet, which started at the 135-pound weight class, began well for Havre, which took a 27-3 lead going into the 189-pound match. That was where things fell apart for the Ponies. The Scotties tied the dual at 33 and then took a 39-33 lead when Mike Sutherland was pinned by Glasgow's Nathan Hopstad in 3 minutes and 17 seconds. Sutherland was wrestling in his first varsity match and nearly lost by technical fall, instead of by pin, which would have given the Ponies a chance to win with Chad Hedges up next. Instead, Hopstad got the pin and the six team points, instead of just five for a technical fall.
Chad Hedges was the last hope for Havre to tie the dual, which he did by pinning his opponent, Evan Fessler, in 41 seconds.
"That's who you want the pressure on," Havre head coach Scott Filius said in reference to Hedges. "(Glasgow) is fun to dual. We see them every weekend. They are a class act and they go to a great schedule, which is part of the reason they are so tough."
While most of the matchups for Havre and Glasgow were not as exciting as the Chad Hedges match, Jeff Hedges provided some fireworks as well at 105 pounds. He faced the defending state champion in Mark Johnson and led 6-3 after the first period. But with 26 seconds remaining in the second, Johnson battled back and pinned Hedges.
"They were probably the two best kids that met," Filius said, noting that Havre's stronger wrestlers matched up with the weaker ones for Glasgow and Glasgow's stronger with Havre's weaker. "(Jeff) lost to him last week, and was beating him then, too."
Greg Leyba started the dual for Havre with a 12-8 win by decision over Jeron Wessen. Jake Szudera followed with a pin in 1:56 to give Havre a 9-0 lead.
Glasgow first got on the board as Luke Morehouse got a 3-0 decision over Adam Jensen. Chad Zuelke answered the Jensen loss with a pin in 1:07 over Ryan George. K.P. Fisher got a win at 160 pounds as Glasgow forfeited the match.
Garrett Hanson gave Havre its biggest lead at 27-3 with a pin over Tyson Stebleton in 23 seconds. But the Ponies' lead soon diminished as four consecutive state champions for Glasgow were up next. The only break Havre got was at 98 pounds, when the Scotties forfeited.
"We knew we'd get off to a good start," Filius said. "We had our horses first, then their horses. I thought we had an opportunity to get a win that way."
Nick Johnson faced state champion Brenner Flaten at 189 pounds and was pinned in 1:10. Heavyweight Mike Schnittgen also lost by pin to another state champion in Seth Morehouse in 1:24.
After Jeff Hedges' tight loss, Scott Sheppard came up at 112 pounds and lost to Cory Johnson by pin in 1:10, which cut the Havre lead to 33-27. Josh Feller tied the dual up at 119 pounds with a pin in 2:30 over David Cross.
The Scotties momentarily took the lead with Hopstad's win over Sutherland, before Chad Hedges tied the dual at 39.
Havre now has seven dual wins, two losses and one tie on the season. The Ponies' next meet is Jan. 4-5 at Cut Bank.