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Pony matmen looking for a successful return to CMR Holiday Classic


December 19, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre freshman Kale VanCampen and the Blue Ponies are headed to the CMR Holiday Classic for the first time in five years.

Montana high school wrestling has kicked off its 2019-2020 season, with many teams already making noise early on in the year.

The Havre High wrestling team is among the ones looking to get back to the top. After the season-opening Havre Invitational and the Mining City Duals, the Blue Ponies are showing a lot of promise early on. Now, Havre will be put to the test at one of the more intense meets among the state, the CMR Holiday Classic in Great Falls Friday and Saturday.

The competition will be fierce this weekend and HHS head coach Beau LaSalle is looking forward to his team to rise up to the challenge.

"It's one of the bigger tournaments in the state of Montana," LaSalle said. "I think it's one of the best tournaments in the state. It's been about five years since we've been there, but every year it's been one of the tougher tournaments in the state. It's been pretty true that if you can place at the Holiday, you can place at the state tournament."

Havre, which has attened the prestigious Tri-State in Idaho the last several winters, will have a lot of wrestlers ready to get physical at the classic, as well.

Junior Mick Chagnon will look to continue his dominant early season against some difficult opponents in Great Falls, especially since Chagnon placed first in 103/113 at the Havre invite.

Other big names that the Ponies will have at the meet will be the Pleninger trio, who have all made some big moves early on. Cameron Pleninger has been a force in the 132-pound weight-class, alongside his brothers Kendall Pleninger, who stood out at the Mining City Duals last week, and Riley Pleninger, who has been a tricky grappler to take down this year.

But the CMR Holiday Classic brings the heat to the mat, especially when much of the north central, western and southern Montana schools come up to compete. Class AA schools like Bozeman, the AA defending state champs, Butte and Glacier, Great Falls and CMR will all be ready to go, while all of the Billings schools, Lewistown and the Class B-C teams around Montana, including Colstrip, will also be in attendance.

With a heap of tough competition coming Havre's way, it is easy to see that it will not be easy for the Ponies through and through. LaSalle has even pointed out some teams that will likely give his team the most trouble.

"I think right now, Great Falls and Bozeman are the teams to beat," LaSalle said. "They were both in the finals of the Mining City Duals and Bozeman is the returning AA state champs, so I guess those would be the two top teams at the tournament as far as competition-wise and who's going to run deep in the team race."

Despite the talented competition that Havre will face, there are still a lot of opportunities to go far into the classic. Many of the Blue Pony grapplers have made good strides already in the early season and, quite honestly, the CMR Holiday Classic will be a great meet to put Havre to the test.

It has been quite some time since the Ponies have attended the classic, as well. For most of these wrestlers, the atmosphere will be new and exciting for them. After all, what better way to measure one's abilities by going up against many major talents across the state.

With it being a big meet, LaSalle has some key aspects that will look to help the team stay on top in Great Falls.

"We just need to wrestle hard," LaSalle said. "We should wrestle for six minutes every match and just win the position, as well as finish every period on top, take it one match at a time and go from there."

The Blue Ponies, as well as much of the state will be competing Friday and Saturday in Great Falls at the CMR Holiday Classic, which will be held at the CMR Fieldhouse.


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