BILLINGS — With the overflow of success a program like the Havre High wrestling team has found over the last decade, it is tough to reach new milestones. But the Blue Ponies retook the podium fury, and though Havre has seen it before, the Blue Ponies put on one of the best runs at a state wrestling tournament the stories program has ever seen.
Friday and Saturday the Ponies were at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark in Billings for the Class A state wrestling tournament. Havre finished as state champions with 233.5 points, taking down No. 2 Sidney with 207, and No. 3 Belgrade with 172.5. Hardin finished in fourth place with 158 points, while Glendive rounded out the top five with 148 points.
It has been just two years since the Ponies last won a state title, back in 2010, but for a program of Havre’s caliber, it seemed like an eternity. But on Saturday night, that all changed. Havre marched four wrestlers into the finals, came away with two individual state titles and placed an impressive 11 grapplers overall.
Last season the Ponies finished third in the team standings. But with all 17 of the Pony grapplers having a strong weekend, there was no question the Ponies were rightly crowned this time around.
“It always feels a lot better to win than it does not to win,” Blue Pony head coach Scott Filius, who captured his eighth state title said. “We are pleased with the kids, they all had a good weekend. This is a great group of kids, and this is the first time I have come down here and had every kid score team points. That was special for us, everybody contributed and this is a neat group of kids.”
“This feels pretty good,” Havre High’s Jace Billy added. “I was on the third-place team last year, and that sucked because I didn’t really score any points for the team. But this year I am glad that I got to contribute.”
Billy’s third-place finish at 189-pounds was just one of 11 top-six finishes for the Ponies. Grayson Brenna (105) and Grant Pattison (189) finished captured individual state championships, while Keegan Kenelly (98) and Tyler Adams (215) both finished No. 2 for the Ponies. Dylan Stewart (112) and Kody Pribyl (140) also both finished in third place, while Logan Pleninger (105) finished fourth, and Thomas Gruber (130) finished in fifth place. Gilbert Bara (135) and Travis Adams (215) also both finished in sixth place for Havre.
Pattison beat Hardin’s Steven Keetan in the 189-pound final, while Brenna took down Sidney’s Ethan Graves in the 105-pound finale. Kennelly lost to rival Clay Stillwagon of Butte Central in the 98-pound finale, while Tyler Adams was beaten by Hardin’s Joe Murdock in the 215-pound championship match.
Gunnar Aageson (145), Jordan Schroeder (152), Jason Kohler (160), JT Belcourt (160), Jake Williams (171) and Dustin Odegard (HWT) also wrestled well for the Ponies, bud didn’t place. Aageson finished 1-2, Schroeder finished 1-2, Kohler finished 2-2, Belcourt finished 2-2, Williams finished 2-2, and Odegard finished 2-2, all winning matches and earning very important points for the Ponies.
“It feels good and it will be good to take a title home again,” Pattison said. “I think everybody wrestled to their ability. Everybody came through and wrestled very well and everybody but two kids made it to the second day and that is big.”
“It was good to get everybody at least one win,” Brenna added. “And that helped us a lot. Without that we probably wouldn’t have had as big a lead as we did, so to get most of the team into the second day, and to get everybody a win was huge for us. We wanted to come out and get a big lead so that it would just snowball from there.”
Friday was an amazing opening day for HHS. Everybody but Aageson and Schroeder were still alive heading into action on Saturday. But once Saturday rolled around, the Ponies lost a few more matches than they would have liked.
On Saturday, in the championship semifinals, Kennelly, Brenna, Pattison and Tyler Adams all won, while Pleninger, Stewart, Gruber, Pribyl and Travis Adams suffered losses. And in the consolation quarterfinals, Bara and Billy earned wins, while Kohler, Belcourt, Williams and Odegard suffered losses and ended their state runs. Kenelly, Brenna, Pattison and Tyler Adams punched their tickets into the championship finals. And Pleninger, Stewart, Pribyl and Billy all stayed alive with wins in the consolation semifinals, earning trips to the third-fourth place round. Gruber, Bara, and Travis Adams lost in the consolation semifinals, and wrestled for fifth-sixth place instead.
“I think my weekend went good,” Stewart said. “I didn’t get the side of the bracket that I wanted, but I still know I wrestled as well as I could have. I didn’t wrestle bad or anything like that, so that was good. And It is awesome getting a team title. Last year I thought we had it, but we didn’t come up with the title, so it is really cool to get it this year.”
And as the results showed, out of the 17 wrestlers the Ponies took to state, they placed 11 in the top six. And the success the Ponies found on Saturday was set up by the best opening day the program may have ever had.
On Friday, the Ponies emerged as the early favorite. They briefly sat in second place with 45 points after the first round, but soon ran away from the competition. After the second round and championship quarterfinals were completed, the Ponies jumped to first place with 115.5 points. Sidney was the next closest team with 82. At the end of Friday’s matches, the Ponies were in first place with 129.5, with Sidney in second with 95 and Columbia Falls in third with 85. Every one of the 17 HHS wrestlers recorded at least one win, and 15 would find themselves still wrestling at the start of action on Saturday.
“The first day was great,” Filius said. “We had as good a first day that we have ever had, and we even had a round where we won 14 of the 17 matches, and the three matches we lost were one-point losses. Friday was a great day. Saturday we left a little out there, but that is just how the state tournament works, you can’t have it all.”
The four grapplers in the championship round were key in the Ponies’ team title, but the Ponies couldn’t have been crowned No. 1 without the third, fourth, fifth or sixth-place finishers.
Billy was a prime example of a key contributor.
Billy pinned Austin Brentlinger of Dillon in 3:18 in the first round on Friday, but lost a very tight, 2-1 decision to Hardin’s Steven Keeten in Friday’s championship quarterfinals. Billy dropped to the consolation bracket and wrestled lights out the rest of the way.
Billy earned a 9-1 major decision in the second round of the consolation matches, and followed suit with a pin in just 27 seconds in the consolation quarterfinals. In the consolation semifinals Billy won a 5-3 decision and landed in the third place matchup against Dace Fisher of Sidney. Billy took third place with a 5-0 decision.
“That felt great,” Billy said. “I lost a close match in the quarterfinals against a Hardin kid, but it feels great to finish third. (After the loss) I just couldn’t get down on myself. I knew I had to do something and the fire came out. There is more at stake here. These are the same kids we see all year, but there is just more at stake. You have to open up, if you wrestle scared you won’t accomplish anything.”
Havre’s freshmen were also key. Not only did the Blue Ponies finish as state champions for the fifth time in the last seven seasons, but they did it as probably the youngest team in the tournament. Havre had four key freshmen step up in Kennelly, Pleninger, Pribyl and Travis Adams, while a big group of sophomores also earned big points for the Ponies — meaning, the Havre has a dominant future ahead of it. All but Pattison and Bara, two four-year greats for the Ponies, return next season.
In just this past run, Havre captured state titles from 2007-2010, while also winning two under Filius in the 1990's. The Ponies have also brought home a trophy from the state tournament for 10 straight years.
2013 Class A State Wrestling Results
Team scores – Havre 233.5, Sidney 207, Belgrade 172.5, Hardin 158, Glendive 148, Columbia Falls 132, Corvallis 109, Frenchtown 101, Libby 89.5, Laurel 88, Lewistown 85, Anaconda 80, Dillon 67, Polson 62, Billings Central 57.5, Butte Central 48, Browning 37, Hamilton 26, Livingston 13, Miles City 12, Whitefish 12.
98 - Clay Stillwagon, BUC, p. Keegan Kenelly, HAV, 4:24.; 105 - Grayson Brenna, HAV, d. Ethan Graves, SID, 9-2; 112 - Shonn Roberts, CFS, p. Zach Wall, CEN, 3:08; 119 - Gresh Jones, SID, won by default over Hunter Grover, LEW; 125 - Jarrett Degen, BEL, p. Dylan Moll, POL, 3:3; 130 - Bryan Armstrong, ANA, d. Dillon Tennant, GLE, 8-4; 135 - Bryce Weatherston, BEL, d. Mitch Haugen, LIB, 6-0; 140 - Dillon Beeler, GLE, d. Jorden Stevens, SID, 6-5; 145 - Keaton Sterling, BEL, m.d. Shawn Purcell, HAR, 13-5; 152 - George Smith, CEN, d. Jim Malone, LEW, 10-3; 160 - Cole Bilbrey, GLE, d. Lane Boka, DIL, 4-3; 171 - Ryder Peterson, SID, p. Austin Bailey, LIB, 2:48; 189 - Grant Pattison, HAV, d. Steven Keeten, HAR, 3-0; 215; Joe Murdock, HAR, d. Tyler Adams, HAV, 10-3; Hwt - Cody Stone-Murphy, LAU, d. Dakota Rutherford, BRW, 5-2.
98 - Clayton Carter (LAU) def Cody Warner (FTN), M-Dec 12-0; 105 - Cameron Linstead (CFS) def Logan Pleninger (HAV), Fall 4:01; 112 - Dylan Stewart (HAV) def Layne Schafer (SID), Fall 2:52; 119 - Carlos Quinones (POL) def Josh Venema (COR), Dec 4-1; 125 - Zach Crace (LIB) def Seth McCall (CFS), Fall 2:06; 130 - Karson Kukes (LAU) def Tyler Forcella (GLE) Def; 135 - Layne Lantis (GLE) def Cody Lemons (FTN), Dec 4-3; 140 - Kody Pribyl (HAV) def Cole Campbell (HAR), M-Dec 15-1; 145 - Tyler Kinn (GLE) def Cody Johnson (SID), M-Dec 12-3; 152 - Levi Butkay (HAR) def Spencer Brost (SID), Dec 8-4; 160 - Ethan Reich (ANA) def Wyatt Jessop (COR), Fall 2:41; 171 - Bryce Akers (BEL) def David Anderson (FTN), M-Dec 10-0; 189 - Jase Billy (HAV) def Dace Fisher (SID), Dec 5-0; 215 - Bryce Wigert (ANA) def James Weidow (COR), Fall 1:34; Hwt - Donovan Hucke (DIL) def Bryce Blumenschein (BEL), Dec 2-1.
98 - Wyatt VanBuren (SID) def Eric LaFontaine (HAR), Fall 1:25; 105 - Torrey Watts (MCY) def Eddy Day (LAU), Dec 7-2; 112 - Chase Conner (COR) def Tyler Ishler (FTN), T-Fall 17-2; 119 - Haze Bell (CFS) def Chandler Metcalf (HAR), Dec 4-2; 125 - Trei Bulluck (LEW) def Gunnar Fairbrother (COR), Dec 4-3; 130 - Thomas Gruber (HAV) def Tanner Johnson (BEL), Dec 4-1; 135 - Zach Hart (BUC) def Gilbert Bara (HAV), Dec 3-2; 140 - Craig Feistner (POL) def Jon Lemon (HAR), Fall 2:45; 145 - Wyatt Lott (COR) def Bryan Shaffer (CFS), Fall 4:02; 152 - Garret Chapel (LIB) def Logan Fisher (FTN), Dec 5-3; 160 - Cody Christian (SID) def Keevan Pickle (BEL), Dec 5-2; 171 - Ethan Blythe (LEW) def Sean Getchell (CEN), Dec 8-4; 189 - Jaden Bryant (BEL) def Parker Tezak (DIL), Fall 4:56; 215 - Sam Van Beek (BEL) def Travis Adams (HAV), Fall 4:25; Hwt - Jordan Zuraff (FTN) def Chris Empter (LIV), Fall 2:06.
Individual Havre Results
98 – Keegan Kennelly (2nd Place)
1st rd – pinned James Buckley, WF, 1:41; Quarterfinals – won by dec. Kohltin Starkel, DIL, 5-3; Semifinals – won by dec. Cody Warner, FTN, 4-3; Final – pinned by Clay Stillwagon, BC, 4:24.
105 – Grayson Brenna (State Champ)
1st rd – pinned Dillon Thorsteinson, WF, :16; Quarterfinals – pinned Paul Allsop, COR, :27; Semifinals – pinned Cameron Linstead, CF, 3:44; Final – won by dec. Ethan Graves, SID, 9-2.
105 – Logan Pleninger (4th Place)
1st rd – pinned Ty Hight, LIB, 1:12; Quarterfinals – pinned Carson Meyer, ANA, 1:37; Semifinals – lost by dec. Ethan Graves, SID, 7-5; Consolation Semis – pinned Eddy Day, LAU, 2:46; Consolation Final – pinned by Cameron Linstead, CF, 4:01.
112 – Dylan Stewart (3rd Place)
1st rd – pinned Jaben Wenzel, POL, 2:32; Quarterfinals – pinned Trey Sokoloski, GLE, :30; Semifinals – pinned by Shonn Roberts, CF, 3:14; Consolation Semis – pinned Tyler Ishler, FRE, 2:26; Consolation Final – pinned Layne Schafer, SID, 2:52.
130 – Thomas Gruber (5th Place)
1st rd – pinned Gabino Ramierz, HAR, 1:09; Quarterfinals – pinned Colton Gove, CF, 2:40; Semifinals – lost by dec. Dillon Tennant, GLE, 5-3; Consolation Semis – lost by dec. Karson Kukes, LAU, 4-2; Fifth-Sixth – won by dec. Tanner Johnson, BEL, 4-1.
135 – Gilbert Bara (6th Place)
1st rd – won by dec. Jon Verlanic, LAU; Quarterfinals – lost by dec. Mitch Haugen, LIB, 4-2; Consolation 2nd rd – pinned Easton Albert, HAM, 4:59; Consolation 3rd rd – won by maj. dec. Lyle Degen, BEL, 13-0; Consolation Semis – lost by dec. Layne Lantis, GLE, 6-0; Fifth-Sixth – lost by dec. Zach Hart, BC, 3-2.
140 – Kody Pribyl (3rd Place)
1st rd – won by tech. fall Jon Lemon, HAR, 16-0; Quarterfinals – pinned Chase Ramberg, CF, 5:06; Semifinals – pinned by Dillon Beeler, GLE, 1:59; Consolation Semis – pinned Jon Lemon, HAR, 4:12; Consolation Final – won by maj. dec. Cole Campbell, HAR, 15-1.
145 – Gunnar Aaegeson
1st rd – pinned by Tyler Kinn, GLE, 3:04; Consolation 1st rd – won by maj. dec. Judah Prestegaard, WF, 11-3; Consolation 2nd rd – lost by tech. fall Wyatt Lott, COR, 16-0.
152 – Jordan Schroeder
1st rd – pinned by Spencer Brost, SID, 5:24; Consolation 1st rd – pinned Dylan Flack, ANA, :46; Consolation 2nd rd – pinned by Garrett Chapel, LIB, 4:31.
160 – Jason Kohler
1st rd – lost by maj. dec. Lane Boka, DIL, 12-1; Consolation 1st rd – won by dec. Doug Womak, FRE, 6-0; Consolation 2nd rd – pinned Jacob Burgess, CF, 1:29; Consolation 3rd rd – pinned by Wyatt Jessop, COR, 4:12.
160 - JT Belcourt
1st rd – pinned by Ethan Reich, ANA, 4:41; Consolation 1st rd – won by maj. dec. Dayton Codgill, CEN, 13-2; Consolation 2nd rd – won by maj. dec. Travis Kaufman, GLE, 9-0; Consolation 3rd rd – lost by maj. dec. Keevan Pickle, BEL, 5-0.
171 – Jake Williams
1st rd – pinned Alex Draper, HAM, 5:12; Quarterfinals – lost by dec. David Anderson, FRE, 3-0; Consolation 2nd rd – pinned Casey Fredericks, HAR, 4:08; Consolation 3rd rd – lost by maj. dec. Bryce Akers, BEL, 11-0.
189 – Grant Pattison (State Champ)
1st rd – pinned Monty Jessop, COR, 3:48; Quarterfinals – pinned Dace Fisher, SID, 1:34; Semifinals – pinned Parker Tezak, DIL, 2:57; Finals – won by dec. Steven Keeten, HAR, 3-0.
189 – Jace Billy (3rd Place)
1st rd – pinned Austin Brentlinger, DIL, 3:18; Quarterfinals – lost by dec. Steven Keeten, HAR, 2-1; Consolation 2nd rd – won by maj. dec. Monty Jessop, COR, 9-1; Consolation 3rd rd – pinned Connor Murdock, HAR, :27; Consolation Semis – won by dec. Parker Tezak, DIL< 5-3; Consolation Final – won by dec. Dace Fisher, SID, 5-0.
215 – Tyler Adams (2nd Place)
1st rd – pinned Luke Channer, COR, :52; Quarterfinals – pinned Ejay Stden, GLE, 1:04; Semifinals – won by dec. Bryce Wiegert, ANA, 5-0; Finals – lost by dec. Joe Murdock, HAR, 10-3.
215 – Travis Adams (6th Place)
1st rd – pinned James Weidow, COR, 3:59; Quarterfinals – pinned Zach Dolezal, LIB, 3:02; Semifnals – pinned by Joe Murdock, HAR, 1:01; Consolation Semis – pinned by James Weidow, COR, :31; Fifth-Sixth – pinned by Sam Van Beek, BEL, 4:25.
HWT – Dustin Odegard
1st rd – pinned by Donovan Hucke, DIL, 2:18; Consolation 1st rd – won by dec. Christian Gomez, SID, 11-4; Consolation 2nd rd – won by dec. Robert Becker, HAR, 5-3; Consolation 3rd rd – pinned by Chris Empter, LIV, 3:36.