It was a déjà vu moment at the Central A divisionals wrestling tournament for the Havre High wrestling team this weekend. That is because the Central A Blue Ponies have been in the same situation before.
Saturday afternoon, the Ponies were in Lewistown, where they grabbed yet another Central A team title in dominating fashion.
The Ponies earned the team win with 271 points, outscoring the second-place Belgrade Panthers with 227.5. The Lewistown Golden Eagles were third with 172.5, while the Browning Indians were fourth with 96 and the Livingston Rangers were fifth with 60. This year’s performance was an encore to last season’s first-place finish with 276.5 points. But the Ponies took first last season with 19 grapplers, while this year’s dominating win was done with 17 wrestlers, and two open weights.
“I expected this,” Havre High head coach Scott Filius said. “But we are happy to win. The nice part is, the kids come into the program and the expectation is that you have to go through divisionals to get to state, and state is the goal. If you take care of yourself all year, then divisionals takes care of itself. Divisionals isn’t a goal that we really put out there, it is more of step to get where we want to be at the end.”
And with all 17 wrestlers advancing to the state tournament, the Ponies already set the table for another trophy run this coming weekend. And earning points from all over the lineup, out of the 17 wrestlers, seven individuals were able to grab individual titles on Saturday.
Grayson Brenna (105), Dylan Stewart (112), Thomas Gruber (130), Grant Pattison (189) and Tyler Adams (215) helped lead the way by following last season’s individual titles, with individual titles again on Saturday. Freshmen Keegan Kennelly (98) and Kody Pribyl (140) also stepped up and earned individual titles, as the Ponies continue to prove they are one of the toughest teams in the state. Kennelly earned a win over A.J. Blackburn of Lewistown, while Brenna took down teammate Logan Pleninger 13-0, and Stewart beat Chad Landers of Lewistown with a technical fall. Gruber earned a forfeit win over Belgrade’s Tanner Johnson, while Pattison pinned teammate Jace Billy in 1:33. Adams also won by way of 3-2 decision over Belgrade’s Sam Van Beek.
HHS also got a handful of second-place finishers, third-place finishers, and fourth-place finishers, as each of the 17 Blue Pony wrestlers punched their ticket to the state tournament in Billings.
Pleninger (105), Gilbert Bara (135), Jordan Schroeder (152) and Billy (189) all finished second. Pleninger and Billy ran into fellow Blue Ponies in the championship round, as the Ponies were doubled up in those weights. But JT Belcourt (160), Jake Williams (171), and Travis Adams (215) also finished in third place, while Gunnar Aageson (145), Jason Kohler (160), and Dustin Odegard (HWT) also finished in fourth place for HHS.
While all of the HHS grapplers turned in great performances, a couple matches stood out to Filius.
Billy and Pribyl have done well all season, but really stepped up. Billy pinned a Belgrade opponent in the semifinals to get into the finals where he lost to teammate Pattison. And Pribyl’s 4-0 decision win over Braden Dieziger of Lewistown was also crucial, as it gave Pribyl an individual title.
“The biggest thing was our depth,” FIlius said. “And we had other kids wrestle very well, and we had other kids wrestle better than those two, but those two matches stick out because they were matches that we felt we needed to set ourselves up for next week.”
It was a strong showing by the Ponies, but there is still one weekend left of competition. The Ponies have been ranked as one of the top teams in the state all season long, but now it is time to prove the ranking right. And while the two open weight classes didn’t hurt the Ponies this weekend, they know it is going to mean a heavier work load down the road.
“This tournament, it didn’t come into play,” Filius said. “But anytime you are allowing other people to score points when you don’t have the opportunity to score, it is bad. We are going to leave two weights open at state, and I am assuming Sidney and Glendive and those other teams pushing for a title are going to take advantage of that. But we will wrestle where have kids and that is all we can worry about.”
Friday and Saturday the Ponies will compete at the Class A state wrestling tournament in Billings.
Team scores — Havre 271, Belgrade 227.5, Lewistown 172.5, Browning 96, Livingston 60.
98 – Keegan Kennelly, HAV by def. over A.J. Blackburn, LEW; 105 – Grayson Brenna, Hav, def. Logan Pleninger, Hav, 13-0; 112 – Dylan Stewart, Hav, def. Chad Landers, Lew, by tech. fall; 119 – Hunter Grover, Lew, def. Dakota Erickson, Bel, 7-2; 125 – Jarrett Degen, Bel, dec. Trei Bulluck, Lew, 11-3; 130 – Thomas Gruber, Hav, won by forfeit over Tanner Johnson, Bel; 135 – Bryce Weatherston, Bel, def. Gilbert Bara, Hav, 16-6; 140 – Kody Pribyl, Hav, dec. Braden Dieziger, Lew, 4-0; 145 – Keaton Sterling, Bel, dec. Zeus Rutherford, Bro, 22-0; 152 – Jim Malone, Lew, won by forfeit, Jordan Schroeder, Hav; 160 – Keevan Pickle, Bel, dec. Devin Blythe, Lew, 8-6; 171 – Ethan Blythe, Lew, dec. Bryce Akers, Bel, 3-1; 189 – Grant Pattison, Hav, pinned Jase Billy, Hav, 1:33; 215 – Tyler Adams, Hav, dec. Sam Van Beek, Bel, 3-2; HWT – Dakota Rutherford, Bro, pinned Chris Empter, Liv, 1:12.
98 – no match; 105 – no match; 112 – Milo Kaufaman, Lew; 119 – A. Olson, Lew; 125 – Hunter Gunsch, Lew, pinned Bobby Lyons, 2:16; 130 – Brennan Armstrong, Lew, dec. matt Dowdie, Liv, 15-0; 135 – Lyle Degen, Bel, dec. Thad Kucera, Lew, 6-3; 140 – Noah Criner, Bel, pinned Victor Littledog, Bro, 2:00; 145 – Braden Fizgerald, Liv, pinned Gunnar Aageson, Hav, 1:38; 152 – Alan Gobert, Bro, pinned Michael Barday, Bel, 2:06; 160 – J.T. Belcourt, Hav, pinned Jason Kohler, Hav, 4:41; 171 – Jake Williams, Hav, pinned Isaiah Crawford, Bro, :27; 189 – Jarrett Guyer, Lew, pinned William Ollinger, Bro, 2:09; 215 – Travis Adams, Hav, pinned Marshall Rah, Bro, 2:07; HWT – Bryce Blumenschein, Bel, pinnd Dustin Odegard, Hav, 2:03.
Order of finish
98 — Keegan Kennelly, Hav; A.J. Blackburn, Lew.
105 — Grayson Brenna, Hav, Logan Pleninger, Hav.
112 — Dylan Stewart, Hav, Chad Landers, Lew; Milo Kaufman, Lew.
119 — Hunter Grover, Lew; Dakota Erickson, Bel; Andrew Olson, Lew.
125 — Jarrett Degen, Bel; Trei Bulluck, Lew; Hunter Gunsch, Lew; Bobby Lyons, Liv.
130 — Thomas Gruber, Havre; Tanner Johnson, Belgrade; Brennan Armstrong, Lew; Matt Dowdle, Liv.
135 — Bryce Weatherston, Bel; Gilbert Bara, Hav; Lyle Degen, Bel; Thad Kucers, Lew.
140 — Kody Pribyl, Hav; Braden Dieziger, Lew; Noah Criner, Bel; Victor Littledog, Bro.
145 — Keaton Sterling, Bel; Zeus Rutherford, Bro; Brade Fitzgerald, Liv; Gunnar Aagenson, Hav.
152 — Jim Malone, Lew; Jordan Schroeder, Hav; Alan Gobert, Brow; Michael Barday, Bel.
160 — Keevan Pickle, Bel; Devin Blythe, Lew; JT Belcourt, Hav; Jason Kohler, Hav.
171 — Ethan Blythe, Lew; Bryce Akers, Bel; Jake Williams, Hav; Isaiah Crawford, Bro.
189 — Grant Pattison, Hav; Jase Billy, Hav; Jaden Bryant, Bel; William Ollinger, Bro.
215 — Tyler Adams, Hav; Sam Van Beek, Bel; Travis Adams, Hav; Marshall Ray, Bro.
Hwt. — Dakota Rutherford, Bro; Chris Empter, Liv; Bryce Blumenschein, Bel; Dustin Odegard, Hav.