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Havre matmen have had plenty of success in Cut Bank


January 9, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre's Hunter Velk, top, battles a CMR rival during a Havre Invitational match last month. The Rustlers will be one of many teams that will be at the Cut Bank Invitational Friday and Saturday. The Blue Ponies won the Cut Bank Invite title for more than a decade straight.

When it comes to facing tough competition all season, there are going to be tough difficult times. However, a place with familiarity can sometimes help with those challenges.

For the Havre High wrestling team, Friday and Saturday will bring about those feelings at the Cut Bank Invitational in Cut Bank.

The Blue Pony matmen have a good history in Cut Bank and have often rose to the top of the invite for a long time. On top of that, the schools that attend the tournament bring a lot to the table and are never taken lightly. As always, the tournament will be exciting and intense.

Despite Havre's past decade and beyond of dominance in the home of the Wolves, HHS head coach Beau LaSalle is aware that every year in Cut Bank will bring about a tough weekend for his team.

"Cut Bank is a great meet for us," LaSalle said. "Especially when coming out of the break since it's the first tournament back before we go to Missoula. It's not always super deep but there's always three or four guys in every weight that are real tough. It gives our young guys a chance to get some wins and our older guys a chance to get tested a little bit before Missoula because in Missoula, there's not really an off round. It's tough all the way through."

The Ponies have had a lot of ups and down so far in the year. The tougher moments have come against big programs like Sidney and Glendive, who Havre fell to last week at the Sidney Duals. But there have been many positives throughout the season, like being the top-placing Class A team at the CMR Holiday Classic and having many wrestler stand out, too.

HHS has been known for its remarkable success in the last decade and every year there is always a wrestler or a group of grapplers that make a lot of noise throughout the season. Often times the senior class is the first batch of the team to be noticed, but at the same time the younger part of the team can turn some heads, too.

For LaSalle, that is the situation this season. Not only are the seniors putting good work out on the mat but so are some of the younger grapplers that are aiming to give it their all.

"Connor Harris is doing really well," LaSalle said. "Our young guys are competing really well. They're wrestling hard. Randy Tommerup is wrestling very hard. Kale VanCampen and Riley Pleninger are doing a really good job for us right now. Riley Pleninger has lost a couple of close matches but he's competing very well. Overall as a group we haven't had the results we've wanted. If we can just keep improving by the end of the year we'll be where we need to be. We haven't been able to put all the pieces together at one time at the moment. But right now I think everybody is doing what they need to be doing, but Connor is the one that really stands out as far as performing the best right now."

The Blue Pony grapplers have a lot to look forward to this weekend, but there will be some familiar faces among the competition, as well. This will not be Havre's first time wrestling against the Wolves, as the two teams met at the Havre Invite that kicked off the season for the Ponies, as well as the Holiday Classic.

Cut Bank was a very scrappy squad at the start of the season and gave a few of the Ponies some trouble on the mat. On top of that, the Wolves are a very well-rounded team, with threats all across the many weight-classes. Cut Bank has a notably tough heavyweight class, as well.

LaSalle is glad to be able to compete against the Wolves once more after putting up some good work against them back home. Plus, there are other teams LaSalle noted that will be fun to compete against.

"I'm excited to go down there," LaSalle said. "I think we'll be just fine. They've got some good kids and good numbers. We beat them at the CMR, so I feel like if we wrestle the way that we're capable of, we should be alright. Eureka has got a good team that they usually bring over with some tough kids that we don't normally see. We get to see a few of those western schools that we don't see often, which is good, too."

Friday and Saturday will be a great weekend for Havre to both flex its muscles and wrestle against some good competition before heading to the Missoula Invitational, a tournament that has a history of being one of the toughest invites in the state. The Blue Pony matmen head to Cut Bank Friday and Saturday to compete the Cut Bank Invitational.


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