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Pony matmen look for more in Cut Bank

 

January 7, 2016

Roger Miller

Jazz Schroeder, left, and the Havre High wrestling team are a heavy favorite to win yet another team title at this weekend's Cut Bank Invitational.

The Havre High wrestling team has always enjoyed itself at the Cut Bank Invitational, but after winning 13 consecutive team titles at the event, it would be hard not to.

This weekend, the Blue Ponies will make their annual trip to Cut Bank, where they will look to win a 14th straight title in a tournament that includes teams from all four classifications. Things will get underway Friday and conclude Saturday.

"I think that it says that we wrestle well coming out of the break," HHS head coach Scott Filius said of his program's run in Cut Bank. "There have been some great tournaments down there, sometimes we have had some easy ones and sometimes it's been a barn burner."

Coming into the tournament, Havre will be heavily favored competing against teams such as Kalispell (Flathead), Lewistown, Cut Bank, Choteau and Chinook, the Class C state champs. And one reason why is that it's been another dominant season thus far for the defending state Class A state champions.

HHS has won all but one tournament it's entered this season and has just one loss in dual competition.

"I think it will be a lot like last year," Filius said. "Flathead probably has the most complete team. Glasgow is getting more competitive and Choteau is always tough. Then you will have Lewistown and Cascade and Chinook, who will probably be as tough as any of the others."

Individually, the Ponies don't have any wrestlers with spotless records at this point, but Havre does boast a few individuals with only a handful of losses to their credit such as Parker Filius, Jase Stokes, Travis Adams, Logan Pleninger, Tyler Schaub and Ryan Stewart. Dane Flammond, Martin Wilkie, Jazz Schroeder and Walter White have also won their share of matches.

Despite having a few open weights on their varsity roster, the Ponies should have plenty of confidence going back to Cut Bank, especially with the way the team wrestled in the invite last year. Havre crowned five individual champions in the 2015 version and had five others who placed as HHS finished with 238 points to capture the team title.

Three of Havre's individual champions from a season ago we will be back as Filius, Adams and Stokes are in the lineup again for Havre with Filius wrestling at 152 pounds, while Stokes will be at 182 and Adams will be a heavyweight.

Pleninger, who will wrestle at 132 pounds for Havre, took third at the meet last year. Schaub, who seems to get better every week, was fourth and will wrestle in the 205-pound weight class and Stewart, who was fifth a year ago, will be in his customary spot at 113 pounds.

The other individuals who will take part in the meet for the Ponies includes Wilkie, an impressive freshman, who will wrestle at 120 pounds, as well as Schroeder, who will man the spot at 145 pounds, Flammond, who will wrestle at 160 pounds and White, who will be at 170 pounds for HHS.

And thanks to a rule that allows teams to have more than one wrestler in a weight class, coach Filius said nearly his entire team will be in attendance and that includes Lane Paulson at 120 pounds, Kolin Nystrom at 145 pounds, Taylor Gopher at 160 pounds, Austin Ratliff at 170 pounds and Jared Sienkowski as a heavyweight.

"It's great for those younger kids to get some matches," Filius said. "We got some young kids that are doing really well that aren't in the regular lineup all the time but are getting better every day."

The Cut Bank Invitational, which runs Friday and Saturday, is the start of the stretch run for the Ponies who, after this weekend, will have just three weeks left in the regular season leading up to the Eastern A Divisional that will take place in Havre Feb. 6 and the All-Class State wrestling tournament in Billings Feb. 12-13.

"Right now the team is really just coming together," Filius said. "We are just trying to continue to get better. We want to try and peak for next week (Jug Beck) and then try to peak again at the end of the season."

 

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