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Blue Pony cross country teams getting ready to race


Last updated 9/3/2020 at 8:11am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The Havre High boys and girls cross country teams take a socially distanced team photo before a morning practice earlier this summer. Havre has a new head coach this season as the Ponies begin the year with back-to-back events in Havre, starting with Friday's HHS Time Trial.

It's a new normal right now for high school sports, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. But, in the case of the Havre High cross country teams, it's also a new era.

Friday, the Blue Ponies will host Time Trial at the MSU-Northern course, thus beginning the season under new head coach Kari Filius.

Under Filius, Havre will be ready for another exciting year on the course. With practices showing plenty of progress, the Ponies will look to turn some heads in 2020, which is something that Filius is happy to see coming forth.

"The kids are working hard," Filius said. "We've been doing some speed work. Things look promising. We have good workers and new, young people that are getting in there and pushing each other. I think they're going to be a really competitive team and will push each other to do better. I think it'll go well."

The girls team sees quite a few notable returners back on the course, including seniors Tamara O'Leary and Hannah Haslem, Emma Gillen and Chloe Shennum, with some newcomers being junior Sadie Filius and senior Loy Waid. As for the boys team, senior Dylan Young, Riley Pleninger, Brody Henry, Kendall Pleninger, Josh Currie and Ethan Durward are ready for another year, while freshman newcomers Caleb Tolmack and Zach May are excited to join the team for the first time.

Havre will open the season on its home course with an intersquad time trial Friday, a meet normally reserved for Cut Bank. Then the Ponies will remain home for an exciting new twist on the Havre Invitational.

On Sept. 11, the Ponies will be a dual host with the Montana State University-Northern cross country teams for a day of racing at Prairie Farms Golf Course. There, Havre will host its annual invite, while Northern will conduct its annual Battle of the Border against Western Wyoming College.

The pandemic has of course, altered cross country like it has every other sport, and the schedule for the Ponies is different. The Ponies will attend the Lewistown Invite Sept. 18, and the Glasgow Invite Sept. 19. Havre will also race in a meet in Great Falls Sept. 25 and the Malta Invite Oct. 3. The Ponies will host another race Oct. 5, this time at Beaver Creek Golf Course, followed by the Browning Invitational Oct. 10. The annual Eastern A Fall Classic Oct. 16 in Lewistown, and the Class A State Meet Oct. 24 in Kalispell conclude the season.

And of course, the season itself will look different. Havre is not attending the Helena 7-on-7, and there is no Mountain West Invitational this year. Also, rules for racing are different with masks begin required at certain times, limits to the how many racers can be at the starting line, and teams not allowed to intermingle before or after races, among the changes the Montana High School Association put in place due to the pandemic.

Still, even with the drastic changes, the Ponies are excited to get going, and they'll test themselves Friday against each other in a time trial that will set the varsity lineup moving forward. The Havre Time Trial starts at 10 a.m. at Northern, and each student athlete will be allowed two fans.


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