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Havre Invite kicks off mat season

Blue Ponies host annual wrestling extravaganza Friday and Saturday

 

November 30, 2017

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Lane Paulson, top, and the Havre Blue Ponies host a talented field of teams for the 2017 Havre Invitational, which runs Friday and Saturday inside the HHS gymnasium. The Havre Invite starts the 2017-18 high school wrestling season.

Wrestling has a rich history at Havre High, and one of the great traditions of the Blue Pony program, is the season-opening Havre Invitational it hosts annually, which is set for this weekend.

Teams from across the Hi-Line will converge on Havre for the two-day meet, which opens Friday, with round-robin matches. Then, Saturday, there is a traditional tournament. The action is set to start at 1 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. Saturday, inside the HHS gymnasium.

"It's always fun to be in your own gym," HHS head coach Scott Filius said. "And we don't get to be in our own gym very often. So it's a nice way to start the year. We have been beating on each other here for the past couple of weeks, so we are ready to get out there and find someone else. We are just excited to get the year started. The kids are hungry and they have done a nice job so far."

Of course, the Havre Invite is always a big deal for the Ponies, who are a lock to win the team title just about every year. But for Filius the first tournament of the season is about much more than results, it's about the process.

"The biggest thing for us, is that we need to find out if we are in good enough shape to wrestle for six minutes," Filius said. "At the beginning of the year, until you can wrestle six minutes, you can't really correct the mistakes because a lot of it is fatigue. So once you get in shape, you can start correcting stuff."

While the Ponies always face a whirlwind schedule at the start of the season, for this year's seniors, such as Tyler Schaub, Ryan Stewart and Jazz Schroeder the home meet in Havre is one of the few chances they will get to wrestle at home, but it also gives the Ponies, as well as the rest of the teams in attendance, a chance to face some stern competition, that includes schools such as Great Falls High, CMR and Chinook. Havre won't be home again until Jan. 23 when it is scheduled to dual Class B rival Glasgow.

"The Havre Invite always gives you some good competition," Filius said. "You always have the two Great Falls Schools. You always have Lewistown and then you always have Chinook, which has some good, young kids coming. So, it's always fun."

For Havre, the varsity lineup will look much different than it did a season ago, especially with the graduation of three state champions in Parker Filius, Jase Stokes and Dane Flammond. However, the Ponies return three other state champions in Martin Wilkie, Quinn Reno and Schaub, who won a title in 2015, but was unable to defend it in 2016, due to injury.

At 103 pounds, Havre will trot out freshman Mick Chagnon, followed by Cameron Pleninger, a state runner-up at 103 pounds last season, in the 113-pound weight class. Reno, who won the 103-pound title in 2017, will wrestle at 120 pounds and at 126 pounds, will be Marc Ramirez.

Stewart is also moving up in weight class this year and will wrestle at 132 pounds for HHS, while Lane Paulson, a finalist at 120 pounds, will wrestle at 138. Wilkie, a two-time state champion, will wrestle at 145 pounds, followed by Connor Harris at 152 and Taylor Gopher at 160. In the 170-pound weight class, the Ponies will have sophomore Mason Dionne. Schroeder is expected to eventually be the guy for Havre at 182 pounds, but the senior is still battling a knee injury related to football and may not be ready to start the season. Schaub, who is completely healthy after tearing an ACL in 2016, will wrestle at 205 pounds and in the heavyweight division, HHS will turn to Austin Ratliff, who qualified for state as a sophomore.

The Havre Invitational will get underway Friday at 1 p.m. That will be the round-robin portion of the weekend, the tournament starts Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. The finals will take place sometime Saturday afternoon. All matches will be held inside the HHS gymnasium.

 

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