Pony boys swim to a Class A state title
The state swimming championships are what the Havre High boys and girls swim teams have worked for all season long. And though one streak came to an end, maybe one more has begun. Friday and Saturday both Blue Pony squads were in Hardin for the all class state swimming meet. Over the weekend, the HHS girls title streak was capped off at 10. They earned 16 points and brought back a No. 2 finish behind Billings Central, which scored 22 points. Hardin scored four points to take the third. And it was a co-champion finish, but the Pony boys earned 10 points in what was their first state title since the 2007 season. Billings Central also scored 10 points, and Hardin finished No. 3 with six. "I thought our team swam with a lot of heart and a lot of pride," Havre High head swimming coach Chris Inman said. "Our teams did absolutely outstanding this weekend." Prior to this season the Pony girls had locked up 10 consecutive state A championships. They entered this weekend knowing the Rams were the team to beat, and though the Rams proved to be deeper, the Ponies swam their best. "I know our girls were disappointed," Inman said. "But Billing Central came out and was definitely the team to beat. They beat us by six points, but our girls swam their hearts out and we can't ask for anything better. "Our streak came to an end," Inman said. "And all things must come to an end and maybe it will light a fire under us for next year." With a time of 1:13.32, Megan Obrecht earned the Ponies' top individual finish with the No. 6 spot in the 100-meter breaststroke. It wasn't quite what she expected, but she earned nine crucial points for the Ponies. "Megan has done an awesome job for us all season," Inman said. "I know sixth place wasn't exactly what she wanted to do, but she swam hard. Megan is the kind of girl that gives it everything she's got when she's in the pool, and it just wasn't her day. She swam awesome." Kacie Johnson also placed individually for the girls team. She earned the No. 8 spot in the 100 free with a time of 59.34. The 200 Medley Relay also earned points for the Ponies. Kacie Johnson, Obrecht, Katie Johnson and Brooke Jappe swam hard and finished in the No. 12 spot with a time of 2:08. On the boys side of things, the finish was a little more dramatic. The Rams were also known to be the Ponies' toughest source of competition, and as the state meet wrapped up the Ponies trailed by four points. The Blue Ponies first six points came from Evan Flathers, David Jeffery, Mathew Olson and John Perrodin in the 200 free relay. The four swam very hard, and finished with a time of 1:42 and a No. 10 finish. And in what could have very easily been another point-earning relay, Flathers, Perrodin, Jeffery and Collin Frey-Carlson were disqualified in the 200 Medley. "That was terrible," Inman said. "But our boys fought back." All that was left was the 400 free relay. And knowing the boys relays were their bread and butter, the Ponies knew they had to swim their best if they hoped to bring back another state title to Havre. Perrodin, Greg Rhines, Jeffery and Flathers needed a good time. But in a pool with top Class AA talent, the odds were against them. At the beginning of the relay the Ponies were seeded No. 12, and needing a finish in the top 11, shaving seconds off their time was a must. "Nobody in the stands thought we could win that thing," Inman said. "But each boy swam two seconds faster than their previous time. It was great to watch them swim, it was so cool." The Ponies finished the relay in 3:53, eight seconds better than they swam on Friday. And doing what nobody thought Havre could do, they beat out Missoula Hellgate and earned the coveted state championship. The historic win the the race gave HHS enough points to tie the Rams for a state championship, something the Pony boys had come up shortof in the two previous state meets. Perrodin Jeffery and Flathers are part of all three relay teams. And with the relays being the Ponies strongest area this season, all three swimmers have played a major role in this year's success. And with this being Perrodin and Jeffery's last year, it was a good way to go out. "They never let our team down," Inman said. "They swam so hard all year and at the state meet they drove themselves to win. The way they swam was phenomenal."