Bring on the high school winter games


Montana high school football season officially ended on Saturday. And that also marked the official end of the fall sports season.

But before the snow settled on what has been a dramatic fall campaign, in gyms and wrestling rooms all across the Hi-Line, the winter sports season was already quietly getting underway.

Last Thursday, Havre High officially kicked off the winter sports season with the first day of wrestling and swimming practice, while Monday was the first day schools could begin basketball practice.

So it won't be long until teams up and down the Hi-Line are competing in the gym, on the mat and in the pool.

The HHS wrestling team is looking for an unprecedented fourth straight Class A state championship this winter, but it will certainly be a season of first for the Ponies and the rest of Montana high school wrestling.

Due to last summer's tornado that struck Billings, the MHSA won't be able to hold the all-class state wrestling tournament for the first time in 22 years.

Instead, the Blue Ponies' quest for history will take them to Butte, a city rich with wrestling history. Butte will hold the Class A state tournament Feb. 11-12.

But before the Ponies get to state, they'll play host to the Central A divisional tournament this year. The Central A meet will take place on Feb. 5. The Ponies open their season Dec. 3-4 at home with the Havre Invitational.

Chinook will also look to repeat on the mat. The Sugarbeeters are the two-time defending Class C champions in the B-C division and they'll try to defend that title Feb. 11-12 at the Class B-C state meet in Hamilton. The Beeters also open their wrestling season at the Havre Invite.

The HHS boys and girls swim teams also have hardware to go after this winter. The Pony boys are the defending Class A state champions and should be strong again this year. Meanwhile, the HHS girls will try to start a new streak this winter after they saw their decade of state championships come to an end last year.

The HHS swim teams open the season Dec. 4 in Kalispell, then host the Havre Invitational Dec. 11. The Class A state meet is scheduled for Feb. 11-12 in Butte.

Meanwhile, basketball season is only two days old, but preps across the Hi-Line are gearing up for another exciting year.

The Rocky Boy boys come into the season as the defending Class B state champions and should be a strong contender to get back to the state title game again this year. Big Sandy is also the defending Class C state boys champion, and while the Pioneers suffered heavy losses to graduation, they will still be a contender like always in the District 9C. The Chinook boys are also coming off a great season and could be the 9C team to beat on the boys side, while on the girls side, Big Sandy, North Star, Chinook and Box Elder all enter the season as strong teams in Class C, while the Chester/J-I girls are poised to have a big year, as is the Rocky Boy Morning Stars in their second season of Class C basketball.

The Havre Blue Ponies are also gearing up for big things this winter.

The HHS girls have been to four straight Class A state tournaments, and while the Ponies are a relatively young team this season, they will still be a strong team in Class A and in the Central A.

The HHS boys also lost several key players off of last year's team, which came within one game of reaching the Class A state tournament. But the Ponies also return some good talent and they'll be back in the Central A battle yet again.

Both the Blue Pony boys and girls will open their season Dec. 11 in Malta.


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