BILLINGS — Repeating as a champion isn’t easy. But the Havre wrestling team sure makes it look like it is.
For the second straight season, the Blue Ponies captured the Class A state championship, and they did it in record fashion.
The Central A Blue Ponies were crowned the Class A state champions Saturday night in Billings. The Ponies turned in another great season all around under veteran head coach Scott Filius, but all that hard work was put on the line at the Rimrock Auto Arena at Metra Park in Billings.
Havre claimed the most recent state title with an impressive 294.5 points, making this one of the best state runs in recent history for the Ponies, who have now won nine titles under coach Filius. The team score ties a previous best by the Ponies when they won the title back in 2009. And anything less could have resulted in a second-place finish for the Ponies, as Sidney put together a great run in its own right, finishing with 268.5 team points. Columbia Falls was a distant third with 172 points. The Ponies also won their second straight title with 17 grapplers, as they took on the state last year with 17 as well.
And all 17 of Havre’s wrestlers scored points for the second straight year, while the Ponies placed 13 grapplers and had four individual state champions. Havre also led the tournament wire-to-wire.
“This definitely feels a lot better than when you’re not the winner,” Coach Filius said after earning another team title. “The kids wrestled well, though; we took control of what we can control and we won the matches that we could win. What Sidney did was up to them, we couldn’t control what they did unless we went head to head, then we had to perform, and I think we did.”
Through Friday’s matches the Ponies got out to a nice lead, but it was never comfortable.
HHS finished Friday with 143.5 points while Sidney kept hanging around with 122. And Saturday, Sidney got even closer. Heading into the consolation semifinals Sidney cut the Ponies’ lead to just over 11 points, 235.5 to 224.4. And a title wasn’t even a sure thing heading into the championship round, with the Ponies having six wrestlers searching for a title, compared to Sidney having eight individuals wresting for titles. Keegan Kennelly (106), Parker Filius (138), Jase Stokes (152), Jace Billy (195), Tyler Adams (220), and Travis Adams (220) all earned their spots in the chipper for the Ponies, and a key matchup included Parker Filius taking on Jordan Stevens of Sidney. Filius pinned Stevens in 3:23 and helped seal the deal for the Ponies. Kennelly suffered an 8-5 decision loss, while Stokes won with a pin in 4:50, and Billy earned a 4-3 decision win. Tyler Adams also defeated younger brother Travis 14-5 giving Havre four individual champions, and all four were first-time champions.
Logan Pleninger (113), Grayson Brenna (120), and Thomas Gruber (132) finished in third place. Kody Pribyl (145) and Dustin Odegard (182) finished in fourth place, while Jake Williams (170) and Dylan Stewart (126) finished in fifth place for Havre. Dane Flammond (126), Gunnar Aageson (138), Jared Laux (160), and John Chinadle (195) also wrestled well for the Ponies, recording at least one win each, but did not place.
Gruber had a spectacular and heroic run for the Ponies. After losing to Glendive’s Dillon Tennant 2-1 in the quarterfinals Friday, Gruber won four straight matches, all by bonus points, and wound up third. It was the senior’s best finish at the state tournament. He placed all four years and was was in arguably the toughest bracket every season.
Brenna was heroic as well. After winning a state title as a sophomore, he was poised to repeat again this weekend. However, a gut-wrenching loss to Sidney’s Gresh Jones, now a three-time state champion, in the semifinals left Brenna out of the finals for the first time in his career. Still, he stormed back to finish third, a boost that helped keep the Ponies out in front of the Eagles. Pleninger did the same, falling to Sidney's Trace Jones in the semis, but rebounding to win twice and finish third.
In all, Havre sent 10 wrestlers into the semifinals Saturday morning. Stewart was beaten by Columbia Falls’ two-time state champ Shonn Roberts, but rallied to reach the podium for the third straight year. In his final season, Williams looked great in reaching the semis, but suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Libby’s Garrett Chapel, who went on to win the 170-pound title. Williams battled back to a solid fifth-place finish though.
Pribyl also placed for the second straight season. He lost to one of the best overall wrestlers in the field in Anaconda’s Bryan Armstrong in the semis, but won his consolation semifinal on his way to a fourth-place finish. Odegard won three straight matches after losing in the quarterfinals.
Havre was dominant from the opening bell as the Ponies won 14 first-round matches, all by pin, and had 15 of 17 wrestlers in Friday afternoon’s quarterfinals. Kennelly didn’t have to wrestle in the first round, receiving a bye at 106.
“I think we wrestled well, and I think we were able to pull away in the title matches,” Parker Filius said. “One of the major things we were able to do was to get bonus points when we could, we talk about that at all of the team meetings before big tournament.”
Havre won a total of 34 matches by fall, an impressive mark. Stokes also earned the Class A quick pin award with his four pins totaling just over 13 minutes of wrestling time. The Ponies also won seven matches with a major decision, and one match by technical fall.
“We talk about pins all the time,” coach Filius said. “We talk about it all year long. The whole object of wrestling is to pin your opponent, and too often, guys want to hang on, and anytime you hang on something bad can happen. We went lights out and the kids did a nice job.
“I know all of those pins helped us win,” Tyler Adams added. “But sometimes it’s just about who works harder and coach Filius has done a great job making sure we all work hard.”
Bonus points and great wrestling by all 17 wrestlers set the Ponies apart from the rest of the field. HHS entered the weekend with the No. 1 ranking and made sure not to let up or let it go. The result was another run of titles. Havre won four straight from 2007-2010. The Ponies also brought home a trophy from state for the 14th straight season, a remarkable streak in itself. And given what the Ponies showed this weekend in Billings, they are on their way to accomplishing that feat and another long win streak.
Havre High wins its ninth Class A state title
Final Tally: Havre 294.5, Sidney 268.5
State Champs: 4, Parker Filius (138), Jase Stokes (152), Jace Billy (195), Tyler Adams (220).
State Placers: 13
Final team scores
Havre 294.5, Sidney 268.5, Columbia Falls 172, Belgrade 155, Hardin 140, Corvallis 109.5, Frenchtown 96, Anaconda 88, Dillon 86.5, Polson 73, Hamilton 63, Libby 61, Glendive 59, Lewistown 56.5, Laurel 41.5, Butte Central 30, Billings Central 29, Browning 26.5, Whitefish 19, Miles City 13, Stevensville 7, Livingston 6.
98 — Sawyer Degen (BEL) pinned Eric LaFontaine (HAR), 1:38; 106 — Kohltin Starkel (DIL) dec. Keegan Kennelly (HAV), 8-5; 113 — Trace Jones (SID) pinned Clay Stillwagon (BUC), 1:51; 120 — Gresh Jones (SID) major dec. Chase Conner (COR), 9-0; 126 — Shonn Roberts (CFS) dec. Ethan Graves (SID), 8-5; 132 — Jarrett Degen (BEL) dec. Dillon Tenant (GLE), 6-3; 138 — Parker Filius (HAV) pinned Jordan Stevens (SID), 3:23; 145 — Bryan Armstrong (ANA) dec. Ryan Chatterton (SID), 4-0; 152 — Jase Stokes (HAV) pinned Bryan Schaffer (CFS), 4:50; 160 — Cody Johnson (SID) major dec. Keevan Pickle (BEL), 5:00; 170 — Garret Chapel (LIB), dec. Cody Christian (SID), 10-5; 182 — Ethan Blythe (LEW) dec. Dace Fisher (SID), 4-1; 195 — Jace Billy (HAV) dec. Jaden Bryant (BEL), 4-3; 220 — Tyler Adams (HAV) dec. Travis Adams (HAV), 14-5; Hwt — Donovan Hucke (DIL) major dec. Bryce Wigert (ANA), 9-1.
98 — Travis Kinn (GLE) pinned Caleb Bagnell (FTN), :52; 106 — Wyatt VanBuren (SID) pinned Winfield West (CFS), 1:34; 113 — Logan Pleninger (HAV) dec. Mason Fetters (CFS), 6-0; 120 — Grayson Brenna (HAV), major dec. Clayton Carter (LAU), 13-0; 126 — Hunter Grover (LEW) major dec. Carlos Quinones (POL), 10-2; 132 — Thomas Gruber (HAV) major dec. Layne Schaefer (SID), 8-0; 138 — Zach Crace (LIB) pinned Lyle Degen (BEL), :36; 145 — Cody Lemons (FTN) pinned Kody Pribyl (HAV), :36; 152 — Shawn Purcell (HAR) dec. Mason Mavrinac (ANA), 12-5; 160 — Cody Walters (CFS) pinned Justin Hinson (HAM), 5-4; 170 — Casey Fredericks (HAR) dec. Tel Motichka (POL), 3-1; 182 — Raven Cunningham (BEL) dec. Dustin Odegard (HAV), 4-0; 195 — Michael Bumgarner (HAM) pinned Monty Jessop (COR), 2:53; 220 — Rand Pritzkau (FTN) pinned Bryce Blumenshein (BEL), 1:22; Hwt — Spencer Ross (CFS) pinned Christian Gomez (SID), 2:31.
98 — Abi Gontarek (LAU) dec. Manny Guzman (CFS), 6-4; 106 — Thunder Morales (POL) def. Cody Warner (FTN), forfeit; 113 — Jaron Morgan (POL) dec. Casey Christian (SID), 7-3; 120 — Zach Wall (CEN) def. Kwin Stoddard (DIL), DQ, 2:31; 126 — Dylan Stewart (HAV) dec. Josh Venema (COR), 1-0; 132 — Skyler Higareda (LIB) dec. Haze Bell (CFS), 3-0; 138 — Tylor Olsen (COR) major dec. Bryant Dorn (HAR), 12-3; 145 — Zayne Brunz (CFS) dec. Zeus Rutherford (BRW), 3-0; 152 — Riley Jessop (COR) dec. John Preller (LAU), 6-4; 160 — Tanner Delp (HAR) def. Wyatt Jessop (COR), forfeit; 170 — Jake Williams (HAV) major dec. Doug Womack (FTN), 9-0; 182 — Connor Murdock (HAR) pinned Tele Seemann (POL), 2:25; 195 — Parker Tezak (DIL) dec. William Ollinger (BRW), 7-4; 220 — Hunter Severson (SID) pinned Isaiah Williams (POL), 2:13; Hwt — Robert Becker (HAR) dec. Cord Murray (MCY), 6-4.
Havre High Individual Results
106 – Keegan Kennelly (2nd Place)
1st rd – Bye; Quarterfinals – pinned Winfield West, CFL, 1:49; Semifinals – pinned Wyatt Van Buren, SID, 1:27; Final – lost dec. Kohltin Starkel, DIL, 8-5.
113 – Logan Pleninger (3rd Place)
1st rd – pinned Jordan Shovar, LAU, :32; Quarterfinals – dec. Tre Smollack, ANA, 11-6; Semifinals – lost dec. Trace Jones, SID, 7-1; Consolation Semi – dec. Jaron Morgan, Pol, 5-2; Consolation Final – dec. Mason Fetters, CFL, 6-0.
120 – Grayson Brenna (3rd Place)
1st rd – pinned Brandon Blumhagen, MC, :32; Quarterfinals – pinned Jaben Wenzel, POL, :44; Semifinals – lost dec. Gresh Jones, SID, 8-6; Consolation Semi – dec. Zach Wall, CEN, 9-8; Consolation Final – maj. dec. Clayton Carter, LAU, 13-0.
126 – Dylan Stewart (5th Place)
1st rd – pinned Connor Ludwig, LAU, 1:05; Quarterfinals – pinned by Shonn Roberts, CFL, :57; Consolation 2nd rd – pinned Anthony James, GLE, :18; Consolation 3rd rd – pinned Tyler Ishler, FTN, 2:15; Consolation Semi – lost dec. Hunter Grover, LEW, 8-1; Fifth/Sitxth – dec. Josh Venema, COR, 1-0.
126 – Dane Flammond
1st rd – lost dec. Chandler Metcalf, HAR, 7-1; 1ts rd Consolation – dec. Skylark Knutson, POL, 6-3; 2nd rd Consolation – lost dec. Colten Cox, HAM, 5-4.
132 – Thomas Gruber (3rd Place)
1st rd – pinned Donivan Williams, COR, 1:36; Quarterfinals – lost dec. Dillon Tennant, GLE, 2-1; 2nd rd Consolation – pinned Manny Rivera, HAM, 2:15; 3rd rd Consolation – maj. dec. Robert Few, HAM, 15-2; Consolation Semi – maj. dec. Skylar Higareda, LIB, 8-0; Consolation Final – maj. dec. Layne Schaefer, SID, 8-0.
138 – Parker Filius (State Champion)
1st rd – pinned Brevlin Thompson, ANA, 1:03; Quarterfinals – pinned Colton Gove, CFL, 3:15; Semifinals – maj. dec. Tyler Olson, COR, 15-2; Final – pinned Jordan Stevens, SID, 3:23.
138 – Gunnar Aageson
1st rd – lost dec. Zach Hart, BUC, 3-0; 1st rd Consolation – pinned Brett McBurney, LAU, 1:38; 2nd rd Consolation – pinned by Bryant Dorn, HAR, 3:15.
145 – Kody Pribyl (4th Place)
1st rd – pinned Austin Olson, DIL, 1:04; Quarterfinals – tech. fall Jon Lemon, HAR, 15-0; Semifinals – lost dec. Bryan Armstrong, ANA, 7-4; Consolation Semi – dec. Zues Rutherford, BRO, 3-2; Consolation Final – pinned by Cody Lemons, FTN, :36.
152 – Jase Stokes (State Champion)
1st rd – pinned Sean Cooney, BUC, 1:57; Quarterfinals – pinned John Preller, LAU, 4:41; Semifinals – pinned Mason Mavrinac, ANA, 1:07; Final – pinned Bryan Schaffer, CFL, 4:50.
160 – Jared Laux
1st rd – pinned Braden Lovelass, STV, 1:46; Quarterfinals – pinned by Cody Johnson, SID, 2:28; 2nd rd Consolation – pinned J.J. Zenahilk, ANA< 1:53; 3rd rd Consolation – lost dec. Cody Walter, CFL, 9-0
170 – Jake Williams (5th Place)
1st rd – pinned Jason Williams, CFL, 3:53; Quarterfinals – pinned Justin Stewart, HAR, 1:16; Semifinals – lost dec. Garrett Chapel, LIB, 2-1; Consolation Semi – lost dec. Tel Motichka, POL, 3-1; Fifth/Sitxh – maj. dec. Doug Womak, FTN, 9-0.
182 – Dustin Odegard (4th Place)
1st rd – pinned Ike Schweikert, CFL, 1:38; Quarterfinals – lost dec. Dace Fisher, SID, 8-3; 2nd rd Consolation – pinned Kyle Howe, LAU, 1:26; 3rd rd Consolation – dec. Phil Vial, DIL, 10-4; Consolation Semi – dec. Connor Murdock, HAR, 3-1; Consolation Final – lost dec. Raven Cunningham, BEL, 4-0.
195 – Jace Billy (State Champion)
1st rd – pinned Andrew Burgess, CFL, 1:42; Quarterfinals – pinned Michael Bumgarner, HAM, 3:34; Semifinals – pinned Monty Jessop, COR, :58; Final – dec. Jaden Bryant, BEL, 4-3.
Havre High freshman Parker Filius celebrates winning the Class A 138-pound state championship Saturday night at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings. Filius was one of two Blue Pony freshman to win state titles.
195 – John Chinadle
1st rd – pinned Mike Corrigan, POL, 2:33; Quarterfinals – pinned by Monty Jessop, COR, 4:48; 2nd rd Consolation – maj. dec. Braden Watson, CEN, 1:26; 3rd rd Consolation – pinned by Michael Bumgarner, HAM, :38
220 – Tyler Adams (State Champion)
1st rd – pinned Mikey Denison, CFL, :53; Quaterfinals – pinned Luke Channer, COR, 4:44; Semifinals – pinned Hunter Severson, SID, 1:05; Final – dec. Travis Adams, HAV, 14-5.
220 – Travis Adams (2nd Place)
1st rd – pinned Kordale Behner, STV, 1:40; Quaterfinals – pinned Zach Brown, HAM, 3:09; Semifinals – pinned Rand Prtizkau, FTN, :43; Final – lost dec. Tyler Adams, HAV, 14-5.