Ponies set out to defend their gold in Butte


December 7, 2017

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Quinn Reno, right, and the Havre Blue Ponies are favored to defend their championship at this weekend's Mining City Duals in Butte. Havre has won the last four titles there.

The Havre High wrestling cruised to a team title at the Havre Invitational last week. Now, the Blue Ponies will turn their attention to defending another title and that comes at the Mining City Duals this weekend.

While the Ponies will be in Butte Friday and Saturday for the Mining City Duals, a tournament where they happen to be the four-time defending champs, their week of wrestling in the Mining City starts tonight with the Butte Central Mixer. The matches start at 6 p.m. Havre will open the Mining City Duals Friday against Glacier, Conrad and Frenchtown. The Ponies will begin with Glacier at 10 a.m.

"We weren't quite in shape last week," HHS head coach Scott Filius said, "but I liked that our kids competed better on the second day (of the Havre Invitational) than they did on the first. So we aren't where we need to be yet, but we took a good first step and will try to build on that."

The nice thing about the Butte Central Mixer is that it gets kids extra matches, which is something Filius likes to see, especially with some of his younger wrestlers.

"All those young kids are working hard," Filius said. "Some of them just need a little bit more experience and that's what this first part of the season is for."

When it comes to the Mining City Duals, the Ponies will get a mixture of Class AA, Class A and Class B opponents. The first team they face will be Glacier, which scored 29 points at the Class AA state tournament last season. That will be followed by a match against Conrad at 12:30 p.m., as well as a dual against Frenchtown at 3 p.m.

Glacier might have the most depth of all three opponents, especially considering they are from the ranks of Class AA, but both Conrad and Frenchtown have strong wrestling traditions. The Cowboys aren't the power they used to be in Class B, but they did score 59 points at state last season. However, Frenchtown may be the biggest challenge of the first day for Havre, as the Broncs boast some talented wrestlers who return from last year's team that finished sixth in Class A last February.

Havre may have three individual state champions on its roster, but the Broncs aren't far behind with a pair of their own. Jake Bibler, who won at 113 pounds last season, is a two-time state champion. Riley Gurr, who won at 132 pounds for the Broncs last season, will try to claim another championship at 138 pounds. Frenchtown also returns Walker Dier, who finished third a year ago, as well as five others who qualified at state last season.

Even though Frenchtown has a talented team, it's hard to see it matching the depth of Havre. Not only do the Ponies have three state champions in Martin Wilkie, Tyler Schaub and Quinn Reno, they also have Ryan Stewart, Cameron Pleninger, Logan Paulson, Connor Harris and Mason Dionne, who all placed at state last season.

One of the few Havre wrestlers who doesn't have experience at state is 103-pounder Mick Chagnon. The freshman did win the Havre Invite last weekend, however, so he looks more than capable of holding his own. Following him will be Pleninger at 113, Reno at 120, Marc Ramirez at 126, Stewart at 132, Paulson at 138, Wilkie at 145, Harris at 152, Taylor Gopher at 160, Dionne at 170, Isaiah Stiffarm or Jazz Schroeder at 182, Schaub at 205 and Austin Ratliff in the heavyweight division.

The Butte Central Mixer starts tonight, with a bunch of local teams from the Butte area expected to be in attendance. The Mining City Duals start Friday in Butte and will conclude Saturday.


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