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George Ferguson Column: Get ready for a sports-filled 2013

It has been just two days since the calendar turned from 2012 to 2013. But it's never too early to look ahead.

And with a great sports year now behind us, it's time to start thinking about what the new year holds.

With so many great sporting events coming in Havre, on the Hi-Line and around Montana, I certainly don't need a crystal ball to tell me how much fun the next 12 months is going to be.

So, in the last couple of weeks, we've looked back at how amazing the last year was, and now it's time to talk about some things I'm looking forward to in the coming year.

And it starts right away.

Over the next two-plus months, basketball is king on the Hi-Line. The Montana State University-Northern men's and women's basketball teams will play exciting Frontier Conference games both at home and away, and it will culminate with how deep the Lights and Skylights can go into the postseason. Yes, Northern is part of March Madness too.

It won't be long until the high school postseason is upon us, and there are three huge tournaments to look forward to around these parts. First, is the District 9C tournament, which will particularly competitive on both sides this season. And after that, it's on to Great Falls for a week of hoops hysteria. From Feb. 20-23, Great Falls will play host to both the Northern C Divisional Tournament and the Central A Divisional, so fans can watch both Havre High teams, as well as more area Class C schools take their shot at postseason glory. When both tournaments run at the same time in Great Falls, it's, in my opinion, the best week of high school basketball in the state.

Of course, I always look forward to the Montana All-Class State Wrestling Tournament in Billings. Not only because Havre High and Chinook will again be competing for state championships, but because it's the second-best attended sporting event in Montana each year. If you haven't been to the state wrestling tournament, it needs to be on your to-do list. It's that good.

A little farther out in 2012 is fall sports, and in particular, Havre and MSU-Northern football. Both the Ponies and Lights were fun to watch in 2012, but expect both teams to be even more explosive in 2013.

And when it comes to football, the entire state will be looking forward to Nov. 23, as the Montana State Bobcats and Montana Grizzlies meet for the 113th time in Bozeman. The Cat-Griz game is getting bigger and bigger, and with how intense the rivalry has been of late, the 2013 Brawl of the Wild will be a highly-anticipated showdown.

There's even more football excitement on the way in 2013. Marc Mariani will be back with the Tennessee Titans next fall, after he sat out the 2012 season with a terrible broken leg. I know we all missed watching Marc play this season, and the entire town of Havre will be giddy next season when we see No. 83 back on the field, playing the game he loves so much.

I'm also looking forward to volleyball season already. And that's because the MSU-Northern volleyball team had such a great 2012 season, I can't wait to see what they do this year. The program is more than on the rise right now, and next fall should be another amazing year of Skylight volleyball.

I know, the fall and winter of 2013 is a long way off, especially when we're just getting started with the winter of 2013. And there's an entire summer to look forward too, with Havre North Stars' baseball, summer league golf, softball, fishing, tennis, and so much more to do. And all of that, plus the upcoming spring sports season, will be great too.

But before the days turn warmer and longer, we've got as exciting a winter sports season as we've had to watch in a long time to get through, and after the golf clubs are put away and the fishing poles go back in the garage for the year, we'll have a great season of fall sports to enjoy.

Chinook's Emily Dennis, left, and Box Elder's Crystal Stamper race down the floor during the 2012 District 9C girls championship game last February in Havre. The 9C tournament is one of many big sporting events in the area each year.

To put another way, the new year will be packed full of non-stop sports in our area. There will championships, there will be heartbreaks, high and lows and everything in between. New heroes will emerge and new stars born in Havre and all over the Hi-Line.

So Happy New Year to all. It's going to be a good one.


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