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State Wrestling 2020: Plenty of Ponies will be a factor inside the Metra


February 13, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre High sophomore Orion Thivierge, left, has been on a roll as of late. Now, he'll try to win the Class A 160-pound state championship this weekend in Billings.

The Havre Blue Ponies have a streak of 15 straight trophies, or to-three finishes at the Class A state wrestling tournament. To keep that going, though, head coach Beau LaSalle's team will have an uphill battle

Havre brings one of its most inexperienced and youthful teams to Billings in decades, and with Sidney poised to win yet another state championship, the Ponies, along with Frenchtown, Lewistown, Laurel and Miles City, all probably feel like they're fighting for second place.

Still, Havre qualified 11 wrestlers for the state tourney, and the Ponies still bring some of the biggest guns in the tournament, which means, no matter how things go, Havre will still have a strong presence on finals night and on the field in general.

Here's a look at each individual Havre wrestler's draw as they embark on the 2020 Class A state tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday inside the First Interstate Bank Arena in Billings.

103 - Joey Bender

Bender returned to the Havre High wrestling room after competing in his freshman season. He gave the Blue Ponies an experienced 103-pounder, as a senior but, after finishing sixth at the Eastern A, he's still making his first trip to state. Frenchtown's Landen Stewart is the favorite, after finishing third a year ago. After that, though, the bracket is wide open, with Sidney's Owen Lonski and Kaden Wise also looking strong. Bender opens the tournament against Libby's Cael Schwindt.

113 - Mick Chagnon

Chagnon is one of six returning state champs, after winning the title at 103 last February. He's moved up this season, and has been one of the top-ranked 113-pounders all year. He finished second to Sidney's Zander Dean at the Eastern A last week, and Frenchtown's Walker Dyer (22-1), the defending 113-pound state champion, is on Chagnon's half of the draw, so it will be tough. Chagnon has the only win this season over Dyer, so the road to repeating, while tough, is still in his favor. Chagnon begins his quest for a second state title against Polson's Gavin Knutson.

120 - Riley Pleninger

It has been a strong sophomore season for Pleninger, who returns to the state tournament for the second straight year. His strong showing at the Eastern A also set Pleninger up for a deep run this week in Billings. He does have Frenchtown's Eli Warner on his half of the draw, while Sidney's Kaiden Cline and Butte Central's Noah Huffaker are strong on the other half the bracket. Still, Pleninger has a great shot at the podium this weekend. He starts the state tourney against Corvallis' Kanyon Stoker.

132 - Cameron Pleninger

He's wrestled in two state championships in the last three years, and now, it's Cameron's last shot at winning one. After finishing second at 120 last season, the Pony senior has had a huge year. While he fell short to Sidney's Jordan Darby at the Eastern A last week, Pleninger won't be overlooked in Billings. Frenchtown's Zane Schroeder, the Western A champ, may be the only roadblock for Pleninger before the finals. He starts his last state tourney against Deegan Martin of Hamilton.

132 - Dominick Perkins

Perkins returns to Billings as part of a double-up for the Ponies at 132. Of course, that means he has a difficult draw with Pleninger in his half, but he wrestled well at the Eastern A, and he could really help score big points for the Ponies this week. Perkns opens his state tourney against Corvallis' James Wisenbach.

145 - Kale VanCampen

After finishing fifth at the Eastern A, VanCampen makes it to Billings on his first try. He's been productive freshman for the Ponies this season, and, he definitely has a shot at the podium. Returning state champ Aden Graves of Sidney, and Corvallis' Triston Davis are heavy favorites this weekend, but VanCampen is a grappler who shouldn't be overlooked. In his first state tourney match, he takes on Browning's Aaron Wells.

152 - Connor Harris

Talk about one last shot. This is it for Harris, who has been one of the best wrestlers in the state the last three years, but has finished third in every trip to Billings. What that means is that Harris has never shied away from the competition, and he won't again this week. He's definitely the favorite to win his first state title this week, but Sidney's Kade Graves and Libby's Trey Thompson are contenders in his way. Still, Harris is on a mission this season, and he's the man to beat at 152. He opens his state title march against Stevi's Dylan James.

152 - Randy Tommerup

Tommerup is wrestling in his second state tourney. After finishing eighth at divisionals, and with his teammate Harris in the draw, the bracket in Billings will be tough. But Tommerup has gained momentum throughout the season, and he won't be an easy out this weekend. Tommerup wrestles Western A champ Trey Thompson in the opening round.

160 - Orion Thivierge

Thivierge may be the hottest wrestler in the field right now. He hasn't lost a match in almost a month, and that includes knocking off top-ranked Dylan Lutz of Sidney in last week's Eastern A final. Thivierge, though just a sophomore, is also battle-tested, having reached the semis last year before finishing sixth. This week, he expects to do even more damage, and he's already beaten the likes of Lutz, Lewistown's Duane Otto and Hamilton's Bridger Willaims this season, so that makes Thivierge the favorite in what is a very good 160-pound draw. He starts the state tourney against Frenchtown's Noah Rausch.

160 - Wyatt Hansen

A sophomore, Hansen makes his second trip to state, and he'll be in a loaded 160-pound draw. His road will also be difficult, having to take on Hamilton's Bridger Williams in the first round, but, he will look to make some noise this week, and give Havre added points in the 160-pound bracket.

182 - Brayden Stadell

Stadell has really come on strong as of late and given Havre has no other grapplers above 182, Stadell will be key if the Ponies are going to fight for a trophy. Stadel has a good draw, too, as defending state champion Riley Waters of Sidney is on the other side of the draw, as is Frenchtown's Canyon Shope. Browning's Charlie Bullcaff and Laurel's Cameron Younger are also strong, but Stadell definitely could get on the podium this week. He takes on Stevi's Sahkaia Wehr in the first round.


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