A dominating start to the season had the Havre High wrestling team rolling through the schedule in the first two weeks of action. But the Class AA Great Falls High Bison gave the Blue Ponies their first road block of the year.
With the Central A Ponies and Bison crossing paths multiple times already this season, both programs are very familiar with the other. And with every meeting, and with every match, it has almost been a tossup for who is going to come out on top. Saturday, the Ponies defeated the Bison in the semifinals of the Mining City Duals, but on Tuesday night at the Havre High gymnasium, the Bison defeated the Ponies 36-20.
“They wrestled harder than we did,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “They turned around some matches, and our kids didn’t want to perform to their ability. They out wrestled us in our own gym, and we both had an awful long weekend so there is really no reason for us not showing up.”
Both teams were open at 106 pounds, but Havre started off strong with a Tate Munyan forfeit win at 98 pounds, followed by wins at 113 and 120 pounds. Logan Pleninger (113) earned a 10-2 major decision over Bailey Berthelson and Grayson Brenna (120) earned a 9-6 decision over defending AA state champion Jarren Komac. Dylan Stewart (126) was pinned in 4:20, but Thomas Gruber had a standout senior night with a hard fought 8-6 win over Thomas Mcmillen at 132 pounds. Gruber was 2-2 against Mcmillen so far this season, but one-upped the standout sophomore with a late escape in the second period, and a reversal to start the third. Gruber led 7-4 and fended off Mcmillen’s late rush to grab the 8-6 decision.
“It is always great to get some revenge on a guy that is a good opponent,” Gruber said. “You get that nervous feeling because it has gone both ways in the past, but I think the motivation of senior night and having the home crowd really helped me a lot. It is a great feeling.”
But the heart of the Ponies’ lineup struggled on Tuesday night.
HHS led 16-6 after Gruber’s win, but GFH reeled off six consecutive wins to lead the dual 30-16. The Bison also won eight of the last nine matches to keep the Ponies from coming back
At 195 pounds Jace Billy kept the Ponies’ hopes alive late in the dual. The Ponies trailed 30-16, but Billy could give the Ponies a shot at a team win with a major decision, technical fall, or fall. Billy had Mateo Amado-Cattaneo on the ropes two different times with a near fall, but couldn’t quite earn the pin. Instead he used three take downs and two late points due to stalling to earn the 16-2 major decision, narrowing the deficit to 30-20.
Tyler Adams (220) and Travis Adams (285) battled, but dropped their matches. Tyler Adams lost 6-4 in overtime after leading 4-2 with four seconds to wrestle, and Travis Adams lost 7-5.
Parker Filius (138), Kody Pribyl (145), Jase Stokes (152), Jake Williams (170) and Dustin Odegard (182) all suffered losses for the Ponies in the middle of the dual, all against tough opponents. HHS also gave up a forfeit loss at 160-pounds.
The Blue Ponies wrestled well for the most part, but didn’t show they wanted it more than the Bison according to coach Filius. And that needs to be fixed moving forward, not quite the same fix as if it were due to technical mistakes or due to poor execution.
“Crisis of heart is the hardest thing to fix on a team,” Filius said. “It’s not technique, so it is a tough fix. I think all the guys wrestled hard, but some of them wrestled hard and not smart, and some of them wrestled not hard enough. But we got exposed, and we wouldn’t have known we needed to work on it if it hadn’t been exposed, that is why we wrestle these duals.”
Havre High junior Grayson Brenna , left, takes down GFH's Jarren Komac during a 120-pound bout Tuesday night in Havre. Brenna won 9-6.
Havre gets a couple days of practice before heading to the CMR Holiday Classic in Great Falls Friday and Saturday.
Great Falls High 36, Havre 20
98 – Tate Munyan, HHS won by forfeit; 106 – open; 113 – Logan Pleninger, HHS maj. dec. Bailey Berthelson 10-2; 120 – Grayson Brenna, HHS dec. Jarren Komac 9-6; 126 – Kenton Evans, GFH pinned Dylan Stewart 4:20; 132 – Thomas Gruber, HHS dec. Thomas Mcmillen 8-6; 138 – Austin Shupe, GFH dec. Parker Filius 5-2; 145 – Gage Bentley, GFH maj. dec. Kody Pribyl 12-4; 152 – Kessler Leonard, GFH maj. dec. Jase Stokes 14-6; 160 – Walker Ferda, GFH won by forfeit; 170 – Cody Henderson, GFH dec. Jake Williams 8-5; 182 – Randy Keesler, GFH maj. dec. Dustin Odegard 15-6; 195 – Jace Billy, HHS maj. dec. Mateo Amado-Cattaneo 16-2; 220 – Eric Weaver, GFH dec. Tyler Adams 6-4; 285 – Roberto Smith, GFH dec. Travis Adams 7-5.