Wrestling's second season begins at Central A meet for Havre High
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It has been another long season of hard work for the Havre High wrestling program. And now with the regular season's competition behind them, the Blue Ponies will set out to defend what is rightfully theirs. On Saturday the Ponies will attend the Central A Divisional tournament in Livingston. And with state coming up the following weekend, the three-time defending Class A state champion Ponies have their work cut out for them. "Our kids are going to go down there and compete well," Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. "I am confident that we will go down there and give ourselves a good showing. That's one thing our kids have always done and I would expect that to continue." The No. 1 Belgrade Panthers have proven to be the most troublesome for the Ponies this season. And with the Panther depth they should prove to do so again this weekend. Belgrade jumped Havre for the first time this season in the Class A rankings and the two should put on quite a head-to-head battle this weekend in Livingston. The Ponies house some the state's top talent, but the Panthers have improved immensely with sheer depth. It has put the Panthers out in front of the pack, and has everybody gunning for them this weekend. The Lewistown Golden Eagles will also make a push for one of the weekend's top spots. They will bring the talent of Jim Malone, Ryan Martin, Rex Martin and Connor Malone, but really aren't' deep enough to compete with the Ponies and Panthers for the No. Spot. "We would like to put a beat down on whoever we get whenever we get," Filius said. "Sometimes you are able to and sometimes you're not. We are going out to wrestle everybody as hard as we can every time." Over the last decade the Ponies have dominated the Central A divisional tournament. And though the last time they have lost came back in 2003 HHS isn't putting too much weight on their past divisional success. When Filius first took over the program the Pony goal was to find success at divisionals. But as the program progressed, so did the goals. "We've got a pretty good string going," Filius said. "But I try not to make it a big deal." Filius said. "In the years I have been here we have tried to deemphasize (divisionals) and reemphasize state. We want to keep all of our guys healthy and we want to get all our guys through with the best seed possible. Obviously you want to win, but more than anything you want everybody to get through in as good of shape as they can." Mathew Emge (119), Dustin Seely (125), Grant Pattison (140) and Kolton Lodge (215) will travel to the Livingston as the HHS alternates. But taking the stage for the Ponies will be Gilbert Bara (105), Duell Stadel (112), Zack Smith (119), Brett Normandy (125), Dillon Seely (130), Riley Harwood (135), Tyson Gruber (140), Eli Hinebauch (145), Kent Pattison (152), Kameron Pribyl (160), Casey Schaub (171), Josh Salapich (189), Jared Ruttkofsky (215) and Mitch Schnittgen at heavyweight. The Pony lineup has steadily improved. And though the likes of Stadel, Smith, Normandy, Seely, Gruber Hinebauch, Kent Pattison, Schaub and Schnittgen have seen dominance all season long, it's going to take a good outing from top to bottom. "The kids that have been winning most of the year," Filius said. "We are expecting it. Right now it's our kids that have been getting fewer wins that need to step up. That's what separates the good teams from the great ones, how your bottom half does. But the kids are sharp now and that's what you are after. You hope they are sharp this time of year and they have been. They have responded really well in practice." The Blue Ponies will face the rest of the division on Saturday in Livingston at the Central A meet. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to next weekend's state tournament in Billings.