The new wrestling season is officially underway for the Havre High wrestling team, and yet again, the Blue Ponies made an explosive entrance in their home and season debut.
Friday and Saturday, the Central A Ponies hosted the Havre Invite at the Havre High gymnasium. With 14 teams in attendance this year, the competition was fierce, and for the second straight season, the Ponies finished as the No. 2 team. The Ponies finished with 231 team points. Class AA Great Falls High captured the No. 1 spot for the second straight season, as the Bison racked up 295.5 points. CMR was third with 163 points.
Also in attendance, Lewistown finished with 139.5, Cut Bank finished with 106, Glasgow finished with 89, Browning finished with 78, Libby finished with 78, Butte Central finished with 62, Fort Benton finished with 45.5, Chester/J-I finished with 29, Chinook finished with 27, and Big Sandy finished with 10. Malta also brought a handful of grapplers, but finished with no team points.
“I was pleased with our kids,” Havre High head coach Scott Fiius said. “Great Falls High is a little bit deeper than we are, but that is ok, all that does is make us better and make them better. We’ve got some young guys and what they really need at this time is experience, and I think most of our guys got six or seven matches. You can’t get better if you don’t have matches, so yeah it was great, great weekend for all of our guys.”
The Ponies had 15 wrestlers place in the top six while 10 HHS grapplers battled it out in the championship round, two in the third-fourth place matches, and three in fifth-sixth place matches.
Keegan Kennelley (98), Grayson Brenna (105), Thomas Gruber (135), Kody Pribyl (145), Jace Billy (171), Grant Pattison (189), Tyler Adams (215), Logan Pleninger (105), Dylan Stewart (119) and Jordan Schroeder (152) all wrestled in the championship round. And taking full advantage, Brenna, Stewart, Pattison and Adams all earned No. 1 finishes.
Brenna earned an 11-2 major decision over Pleninger in the finals to earn his No. 1 finish, while Stewart followed two consecutive wins by fall with a 5-4 decision over Kylan Berkram of Cut Bank. Brenna finished the tournament round with a 2-0 record and Stewart finished 3-0. Pattison also finished 3-0 and followed two straight pins with a 3-1 decision win over CMR’s Bryan Evans in the title match. Adams wrestled very well all weekend and was also 3-0. Adams earned a first-round bye, but followed with a pin over Jordan Warner of CMR in just 56 seconds. Adams also earned a
12-2 major decision over Glasgow’s Killian Gregg before pinning Libby’s Zack Dolezal in 1:36 to grab the No. 1 finish.
“Coming into this,” Adams said. “It wasn’t so much as being scared of the competition, it was scared of just losing, and that was good motivation. I think I was very solid on top, and that was my goal before the season started because I think I was sloppy on top. But this tournament I think I wrestled well on top, and it is either attack or be attack, so I wrestled aggressive.”
Travis Adams also earned a No. 3 finish after working his way through the consolation bracket. Travis Adams defeated Jason Gervais of Browning with a pin in 3:22. Williams was defeated in the semifinals before losing to Randy Keesler in the consolation finals. Bara went 3-2, earning his No. 5 finish, and Borris went 3-3 before eanring his No. 6 finish. Odegard went 1-3, but still finished in sixth place for the Ponies.
“In the round robin (Friday) we didn’t actually do as well as we did today (Saturday),” Filius said. “We stepped it up and that is really what you want to see, the kids improving everyday, and I saw that.”
Moving forward, the Ponies are still looking to work on conditioning. That is always an issue early in the season, but the Ponies are also looking to do better at getting off the bottom, something Filius said will be a work in progress all season long. But overall, the Ponies wrestled well individually, as well as team wise. It was a good way to start the season.
“The whole team was working pretty hard,” Pattison said. “They showed a lot of hard work and dedication. There were four more teams this year and the competition was good, but I think we wrestled well on our feet and on top this weekend. Everybody did the best they could, but we know we need to work on our conditioning a bit.”
Thursday-Saturday, the Ponies will be in Butte for the Butte Mixer on Thursday, and the Mining City Duals on Friday and Saturday.