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State Wrestling 2020: Young Ponies on the same mission

Havre grapplers chasing hardware in Billings, like always

 

February 13, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Havre High junior Mick Chagnon, top, works on a CMR opponent during a Havre Invite match back in December. The Blue Ponies are headed to the Class A state tournament this weekend in Billings, where Chagnon is a returning state champion.

It's been a different kind of season for the Havre Blue Ponies, but their goals at state haven't changed.

After finishing in fourth place at the Eastern A Divisional Tournament in Lewistown last week, 11 Havre High wrestlers punched their tickets to the All-Class State Wrestling Tournament in Billings Friday and Saturday.

The Class A State Tournament will be the ultimate test for the Blue Pony grapplers, who will wrestle inside the First Interstate Bank Arena at the Metra, where names can be made and championships can be won. Last season, Havre placed second at state, after ripping off five straight team titles.

HHS head coach Beau LaSalle is looking forward to the Class A State Tournament this weekend, especially after the great showing his team had in Lewistown last week.

"I'm excited," LaSalle said. "I think our guys are peaking at the right time and got the right mindset going into this week. We want to sharpen them up, make sure their bodies are feeling good and rested and get ready to compete for the weekend. Overall, I'm excited to see what these guys can do."

Havre will have some returners back to the Metra this season who placed well at state last year, too. Junior Mick Chagnon was the previous state champ in the 103-pound weight class but will wrestle at 113 this year, while senior Cameron Pleninger finished second at 120, but competes at 132 this season and senior Connor Harris placed third at 152 and will look to take the crown this time around in the same weight class.

The rest of the Havre state lineup includes, senior Joey Bender competing at 103 pounds, Riley Pleninger at 120, Dominick Perkins at 132, Kale VanCampen at 145, Randy Tommerup in the 152, Orion Thivierge at 160 alongside Wyatt Hansen, and Brayden Stadell will compete in the 182. Thivierge is another returning state placer for the Ponies, havng took sixth a season ago.

Havre's team race to the title will be tough once again this year. Sidney has won the last two state tournaments and likely will repeat that achievement once more this time around, which leaves teams like the Ponies, Frenchtown, Laurel and Lewistown hunting for second and third place in the Metra.

Needless to say, the competition this season will be just as difficult as the previous years, with many wrestlers looking to make it to the top.

But one wrestler looks to avenge his last season and is on a quest to take the crown this year in the 152. That wrestler is Harris. The senior grappler has finished with the bronze in his last three seasons with the Ponies, a consistent result that is definitely admirable, but not enough for Harris. Not only is this last season on the mat his final chance to win it, but his best chance, too.

"Honestly, I'm pretty confident right now leading up to the state tournament," Harris said. "I feel pretty good and well-prepared for this weekend. It's been a long process. The last couple of years have been tough, but I'm really looking to make it happen."

Meanwhile, other wrestlers have been on a roll as of late, like Thivierge. The sophomore wrestler put on a show at the Eastern A Divisional Tournament last week, claiming the 160 championship. As a freshman, Thivierge placed sixth in the 145 bracket, but now he looks to keep rolling at state in the 160 bracket.

"It's just been a lot of fun," Thivierge said. "Everything's been clicking for me. I've just been enjoying my teammates and really picking more things up. I'm enjoying the process really."

And at the end of the day, LaSalle and his team look to make their way to another great finish on the season. The goal is to get a trophy and get as many wrestlers on the podium as possible. No matter what, that's always the goal with the Pony wrestlng program.

"I think we're going down there with the mindset that we're coming home with a trophy," LaSalle said. "I would be lying if I said we could pass Sidney. They qualified 17 guys and did so very well. But I do think a second or third-place trophy is definitely in our sights as far as teamwise. The thing we're looking for is for our boys to compete hard and do the best that they can."

With that, Havre heads to the Class A State Tournament Thursday to compete Friday and Saturday in the Metra, aiming to bring home some hardware once more.

 

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