Havre senior Casey Schaub points to the Blue Pony crowd after he won the 189-pound Class A state championship Saturday night at the Rimrock Auto Arena in Billings. Schaub capped a brilliant career and a great season with his first state title.
HHS's Eli Hinebauch battles Laurel's Tommy Cooper in the 152-pound class A state championship match Saturday night in Billings. Hinebauch, Schaub and Grayson Brenna all reached the Class A finals.
Friday and Saturday, the Ponies took part in the all class state wrestling tournament in the Rimrock Arena at Metra Park in Billings, and finished as the No. 3 Class A team in the state, this coming after a second-place finish a year ago. But remaining one of the top programs in the state with 188.5 team points, and adding another year to the more than a decade long dynasty, the Ponies were represented by three kids in the championship round.
Two senior leaders in Eli Hinebauch (152) and Casey Schaub (189) both made the championship finals. But they were also joined by freshman Grayson Brenna (98). Hinebauch claimed his second state title in two years, and capped off an outstanding, undefeated season with a record of 57-0. Schaub also wrestled well, and claimed his first individual title of his career, finishing with a record of 36-6. And Brenna made it all they way to the finals and grabbed a No. 2 finish, ending his first year as a prep wrestler with a record of 47-10.
"It is always good when a kid gets to go out on a happy note," Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. "And for those two (Hinebauch and Schaub) to go out on top, you are always excited for that. And (Brenna) is a freshman that punched himself into the finals. He had a spectacular year and got better every week and was spectacular to work with."
Hinebauch's win in the championship match was one of the closest matches he has been in all season, as he was able to defeat Tommy Cooper of Laurel in a 3-0 decision. It was 0-0 after the first period, but Hinebauch went up 1-0 in the second on an early escape. He held the narrow 1-0 lead until just two seconds were left in the third, when he was able to muscle a takedown and the win.
"It feels great to be No. 1," Hinebauch said. "And it feels great to get some relief by finishing an undefeated season. I am glad I finished off with a win, and (in the match) I couldn't get called for stalling. I had to keep the tempo up and keep firing."
On his way to the finals, Hinebauch cruised through his first three matches. In round one, he pinned Jared Young of Polson in just 56 seconds. And in the second round, Hinebauch pinned Ethan Reich of Anaconda in 53 seconds. In the semifinals he used a little more time, but finally found a way to pin a very tough Cole Bibrey of Glendive in 3:02.
Schaub didn't hesitate, and it was apparent he was hungry for his first No. 1 finish after coming up short three season's prior. Schaub pinned Casey Fredericks of Hardin in 23 seconds in round one, and Marcus Ross of Columbia Falls in 36 seconds in round two. Schaub then manhandled Ryan Gosselin of Laurel in the semis, earning a 14-5 major decision.
On Saturday night, before fans could even blink, Schaub was up 9-0 on Sam VanBeek of Belgrade, a very familiar opponent for Schaub. But after Schaub scored on the take down and seven points of near falls, he would win by way of fall in the second period. Schaub pinned VanBeek in 1:27.
"This feels amazing," Schaub said. "It is what I have been striving for, for four years and I can finally say that I am a state champion."
Brenna didn't have quite the success as his senior teammates, but still a great tournament and year nonetheless.
Brenna was ranked all season long, a great accomplishment for a freshman. And this weekend in Billings, he found himself up against a very tough 98 pound bracket. But showing his toughness, he pinned Bryce Noctor of Butte Central in the first round on Friday, and beat Alex Helgeson of Polson in a 15-0 technical fall in the second round on Friday. In the semifinals on Saturday, Brenna battled through a tight match with Clay Stillwagon Butte Central, earning the 5-4 decision and a berth in the championships.
Once in the title match, Brenna fell behind 2-0 early to Shonn Roberts (CFS), and remained down by two for two complete periods. In the third period Roberts scored on a reversal and defeated Brenna 4-0.
To have three kids place in the top three, meant a good outing by the Ponies. They highlighted a group of nine HHS athletes to place in the top six and kept Havre's name on the list of top teams in the state.