Havre High wrestling team looks to have all the pieces needed to defend its Class A state title
It is not every year that a high school wrestling program can win a state championship, then turn around a year later and return most of its grapplers. That however, is the fortunate situation the Havre Blue Ponies find themselves in as they gear up for what will most likely be another dominating season.
The story of the Blue Pony dynasty continues to be written. And as this season is just getting underway, the Ponies are looking to capture their second consecutive Class A state title. A year ago, the Ponies captured both the Central A and Class A state wrestling titles. They also had 11 individuals place at state, including two individual champions. The Ponies lost just two seniors from a year ago, a rarity at any level, meaning the expectations for this season are very high for veteran head coach Scott Filius’ talented team.
Vacant from this year’s team due to graduation is Grant Pattison and Gilbert Bara. Pattison (189) was a state champion last year and Bara (135) placed sixth.
“I would think that since most of these kids have been around the program and have found a lot of success that the expectations would be high,” Filius said. “We typically lose more than just a couple of kids, but we really have a good crew back this year. And the nice part about this crew is that they are working really hard, and I don’t care if you are talented or not, if you don’t work hard then you don’t have the success. They are all working hard and have good backgrounds, so we expect a lot out of them.”
The key returners for the HHS squad include Grayson Brenna, Tyler Adams, Keegan Kennelly, Jace Billy, Dylan Stewart, Kody Pribyl, Logan Pleninger, Thomas Gruber and Travis Adams. The entire group of returners placed in the top six at state a season ago, while Brenna was a state champion last year, and Tyler Adams and Kennelly both finished second. Billy, Stewart and Pribyl all took third place a year ago. Gunnar Aageson, Jordan Schroeder, Jason Kohler, Jake Williams and Dustin Odegard also highlight the returning wrestlers, and all wrestled at the state meet last season.
“We will be competitive,” Filius said. “We are going to have a few freshman in the lineup, but I have had all of these kids for a while, so I know they will all compete, I am confident in that. From top to bottom we have kids that will give great effort and that is going to pay dividends for us.
“We have had some new guys stepping up already,” Filius added. “But what I really like is our freshmen class. We have some middle guys, little guys, and a couple of big guys, so we are pleased with that.”
Jase Stokes, Parker Filius, and Dane Flammond should lead what is a talented freshmen class. They have a ton of mat time already in their young careers and have shown they should be able to perform at the varsity level right away.
But freshmen or seasoned veterans, the HHS schedule proves to be a test for any level of wrestler.
The Ponies open up this weekend with the annual Havre Invitational at the Havre High gymnasims, with over 15 teams, including Class AA state champion Great Falls High expected to be in attendance.
But the tough schedule only begins with the Havre Invite.
Havre's Jordan Schroeder, left, is part of a strong contingent of returning wrestlers to the Blue Pony team this season.
The Ponies will also hit several major duals and tournaments before divisionals and state. Major dates will include the Mining City Duals Dec. 13-14, the CMR Holiday Classic Dec. 20-21, the Bozeman Invitational Jan. 3-4, the Cut Bank Invitational Jan. 10-11, and the Missoula Invitational Jan. 17-18. The Ponies will also host Lewistown and Great Falls High Dec. 17 for their only other home matches, as well as take on the Class A duals, traveling to CMR, Conrad, and Malta on the road. Divisionals will be in Browning on Feb. 8 and state will be in Billings Feb. 14-15.
And the tougher the competition the better, for this Pony team that knows they will only get better as the season progresses.
“The bottom line is that the competition brings the cream to the top,” coach Filius said, “so the faster we get into some competition, the quicker we can improve. And the nice part is, in our first weekend out we will see the Class AA state champs, as well as some other good teams like Libby and Lewistown. We will find out how tough we really are.”
The regular season will officially begin Friday at 1 p.m. with the start of the Havre Invite. Action will resume Saturday at 9:30 a.m.