On track: Ponies host Malta and Lewistown
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The Havre High boys and girls track teams may get a break in the weather yet. And if the Blue Ponies do, this weekend's meet has all the makings for a solid day of competition. Saturday at the Havre Middle School track, the Central A Blue Ponies will host a triangular meet with the Central A Lewistown Golden Eagles and the Class B Malta Mustangs at 10 a.m. And even though the three-team meet won't have the big-time feel, it will have the big-time talent. "Malta is a powerhouse," Havre High head coach Roger Larson said. "Their girls team is phenomenal this year. And Lewistown, they always have quality athletes. You can't ask for two better teams to come in if you are having just two teams, we are excited." HHS has seen both Malta and Lewistown a number of times this season. At the Malta Invitational both the Pony boys and girls teams lost to Malta. At the Lions Invitational the HHS boys defeated the Mustangs while the HHS girls finished second to the M-Ettes. But even with the talent that Malta brings to the track, the Ponies are still focusing on the Eagles, a conference rival. The Eagles have swept the Ponies in competition this season. In Belgrade the boys finished in fourth and the girls in fifth, while both Eagle squads outscored the Ponies for third place finishes. And at the Lewistown Invite the boys finished in third and the girls in fifth, while the Eagle boys took the No. 1 spot and the Eagle girls finished third. And neither the Eagles nor Ponies have really seen each other at full strength yet this season. Both teams have had the same struggles, battling through losses to injury, sickness and scheduling conflicts such as music. "We will keep a close eye on Lewistown." Larson said. "They are our rivals in every other sport and it carries over into track. They are in the Central A so that even sets up the competition more." This weekend is an important one for all of the Pony athletes, but for a few of the younger ones it carries a little more weight. Larson still isn't 100 percent sure who is making the trip to divisionals. Some of the older kids have their spots locked in, but for a select few, they are still on the bubble. On the boys' team Larson will pay close attention to Greg Rhines (distance runner), Dolan Tuss (distance runner), Marc Klimas (distance runner), Garrett Dolezal (thrower), Kody Hickman (jumps) and Thurman Holdsclaw (jumps). And on the girls' squad, Larson will keep an eye on Jennifer Nordgiven and Sadie Seidel. "I told the kids that I want to see something amazing," Larson Said. "If they are on the borderline I want to see 100 percent effort and something that is going to make me say wow, that kid deserves to go to divisionals. They are all young kids and if the opportunity doesn't come this year for divisionals then definitely next year they will probably make it. They will get one more year to improve and mature physically and mentally." But some of the older kids need to perform well also, coming off of illnesses and a missed meet last weekend. John Perrodin, Karla Hellegaard, Layne Waid, Corderro Strickland and Jake Myers missed the last meet for the Ponies but should be ready to go this time around. Larson wants this group, along with the rest of the older performers to improve on their times and distances even more. They only have this meet and the Top 10 before divisionals and Larson is still expecting steady improvement. "This week everybody is looking good," Larson said. "There might be some who are a little sore and tired but they aren't going to say anything." And besides individual performances, Larson is really focusing on both the boys and girls short and long relay teams. And more specifically he is focusing on their handoffs. With four athletes on the track trying to make clean handoffs, any mistake could prove costly. "Handoffs are huge, they cost you seconds," Larson said. "You can have four fast kids and four slow kids, and if the slow kids have the handoffs down they always have a chance to win." Overall, the Blue Ponies are just looking to compete hard and get better. The Top 10 and divisional meet are right around the corner, and could be the last chance the Ponies have to make any adjustments or fine tune. "Everybody has ran at least five or six meets, if not eight or nine already," Larson said. "Right now we are feeling good and all we have to do is go out there and perform." The Ponies will host Lewistown and Malta in a home triangular at the Havre Middle School track at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.