The Filius family had as successful a winter sports season as one family can possibly have
In the world of sports, success is often measured by winning or losing. And taking it one step further, sometimes it’s not even as simple as wins or losses, as most teams, coaches, and individual athletes have their sights completely locked on championships, titles, and No. 1 finishes. Nobody remembers second place, and nobody remembers the consolation rounds, but being a champion doesn’t come easy, or without immense effort.
The Filius family may have made being a champion look easy in 2014, but a run like the one Scott Filius (dad), Kari Filius (mom), Peyton Filius (daughter), Parker Filius (son), and even the youngest sibling Sadie Filius experienced starting on Feb. 15 and running through March 15, was remarkable to say the least.
Kari, mom, wife, coach, trainer, and whatever else her family needs got to see everything unfold perfectly.
“It was rewarding to see all that success,” Kari said. “That is what we have worked for with our kids since they were little, and they have always worked hard. It was nice to see all that work pay off, especially all in the same year. This was probably our busiest year, too, trying to watch and support Peyton and Parker all at the same time, but it was really fun. This (success) doesn’t happen to everybody that works that hard, so it was neat to see it happen to a senior and a freshman in the same family, and in the same year, one month apart.”
“We always talked about (having success) when the kids were little,” Kari added. “But we told them it had to be up to them to do it. We always tried to give them opportunities, and we worked with them when they needed us to, and it is nice that it was something they also wanted, and it paid off.”
It all started at the All-Class state wrestling tournament in Billings on Feb. 15.
Both Scott, and Parker, capped off the Havre High wrestling season as Class A champions. Scott, a former great for the Northern Montana College Lights wrestling program (individual and team title in 1991), is no stranger to Class A team titles as the veteran head coach of the Blue Ponies. This year’s title was the second consecutive state title for coach Filius, as well as his ninth overall. The final team score of 294.5 also tied Havre’s previous best point total (2009) and is the best ever by a Class A program at the state tournament.
If all that wasn’t enough to make a coaching legend happy, son Parker also grabbed his first individual state title for the Ponies in his freshman, and debut, season with coach Filius as a Pony grappler. Parker wrestled at 138 pounds and scorched the competition all season long. He was impressive, and got better with every match, and his only losses came to Class AA Great Falls High senior Austin Shupe during the regular season. Shupe was also crowned champion at 138 pounds this season, his second individual title for the Bison. But Parker’s dominance didn’t slow down at the state tournament. He pinned Jordan Stevens of Sidney in 3:23 in the chipper, and on the road to the title Parker also pinned Brevlin Thompson of Anaconda (1:03), pinned Colton Grove of Columbia Falls (3:15) and earned a 10-0 major decision over Taylor Olson of Corvallis (semifinals).
Older sister Peyton hadn’t experienced state supremacy at that point, but she knew how hard Parker, and Scott have worked.
“I didn’t get to go to state wrestling because we were playing Rocky Boy that night when they won,” Peyton said. “After the game somebody in the crowd told me that my brother won and I started crying. People kept asking me why I was crying, we just beat Rocky Boy, but I was just excited and happy for my brother and dad. I don’t think anybody understands how much time they actually put into the sport. They are gone all the time, traveling all over the country, and for that to pay off is awesome. It doesn’t get old, my dad has won so many times, and it is exciting every time.”
It is hard to believe that the success by Scott and Parker was only the beginning of the historic run by the dominating force that is the Filius family, but Peyton Filius kept the ball rolling, and exactly one month later, on March 15, she earned another state title for the Filius household.
Peyton was a four-year varsity basketball player for the Blue Ponies, and was key in ending a 17-year state title drought for the Havre High girls. The state title win came on the night of March 15 at the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls, a 52-43 win over Hamilton. Prior to the chipper the Ponies defeated Frenchtown 60-41 in the first round and Laurel 41-28 in the semifinals. Saying Peyton was a key contributor is vague, but her stats hammer the point home. In the 2014 regular season she shot 41 percent from two-point range and 30 percent from 3-point range. Peyton also shot a team high 82 percent form the free throw line, averaged a team high 12.7 points per game, and averaged 3.7 rebounds per game, tied for a team high.
“I wasn’t there for the game,” a busy Parker said. “But I was getting a lot of texts and updates, so that was awesome and I was excited to hear they had won. I was excited for Peyton. And I was texting back and forth with her (over the weekend), giving her advice and stuff, so it was cool we both got to experience that. I don’t think something like this happens very often, so it was pretty special. It was a great month, but it went by really fast.”
Scott knows what a state title feels like as a coach, but in the one month span, he also got to experience the epic achievements as a father as well.
“It was a lot of fun seeing the kids experience that,” Scott said. “It was a good month, it was a good winter, and I know the kids had a lot of fun. It is much more fun to watch my kids win. I enjoy our team titles, don’t get me wrong, but it was just really fun to get to watch my kids. It was rewarding to get another team title, especially because my son was a part of that too, so it is kind of hard to separate the two, but I very much enjoyed watching Peyton and Parker.”
It didn’t fit in the neat confines of the month-long span, but Peyton added to the exciting stretch for the Filius family when she also decided to announce in early February her signing with the Montana State University-Northern Skylights basketball program.
Her announced signing Feb. 4 was exciting not only for Northern, but parents Scott and Kari as well. Like Scott, Kari was also a former great at Northern, her success coming on the hardwood in the early 1990s. Kari helped bring an NAIA national championship to Northern in 1993. Both Scott and Kari are also in the MSU-N Hall of Fame, hopefully a sign of things to come from a talent like Peyton.
“We talked about it when Peyton was a little girl,” Kari said about Peyton signing with her former collegiate program. “And when she was really little she said it would be fun to play where I played. But we didn’t talk about it for quite a while, and then she made the decision, so it is neat for me, and we will get to see her play a lot more.”
Work ethic has been instilled in the Filius children by two hard-working parents and coaches. Anybody who knows the Filius family knows the passion they have for competition and success in their chosen sport or activity, all the way down to a future star in Sadie Filius who has also shown promise on the hardwood with her experience in the Elks Hoop Shoot.
But they don’t just get work in during practice, It is year-round for the Filius family. Parker wrestles almost nonstop at various tournaments all over the country, but he also plays baseball and is a standout varsity Blue Pony football player. He was at a tournament in Denver when Peyton was winning her state title. And when Peyton wasn’t playing ball she was either running cross country, running track or playing volleyball. But just like the rest of the family, she too is constantly on the road for various basketball tournament or camps, including a trip to Australia with the rest of the Ponies two years ago.
“It is funny,” Kari said. “People see us after wrestling and basketball is over, and they ask us if it is nice to finally get a chance to relax. But that is not the case, there is always something going on for us, or some place to travel to, or something else going on. In season is the least busy for us because we are staying in the state, but it is fun, I wouldn’t change anything. It takes a lot of time and effort, but it is nice when it pays off.
Havre High senior Peyton Filius can't hold back the tears as she celebrates with her teammates upon winning the 2014 Class A state girls basketball championship in March in Great Falls. Filius, a two-time Class A All-State player, who is headed to Montana State University-Northern, capped off a big month for her family by helping the Blue Ponies win the state title.
“It is tough to decide you like to compete just a little bit,” Scott added. “You either love it and are in all the way, or you are not. It takes a lot of hard work, and sometimes it doesn’t always pay off, but they worked hard and it was nice to see them get rewarded like they did.”
And Parker and Peyton aren’t complaining. They have embraced the lifestyle, and have made the most of it with two more family state titles.
“I probably wrestle 10 months out of the year,” Parker said. “And I don’t see Peyton very often because I am either traveling to wrestle somewhere, or she is off on a basketball trip. We are both pretty busy.
“We are always doing something,” Peyton added. “My parents are crazy, they take us on family runs, even when we were little. It sounds weird, but that is just how we bond, we are always active, we are always outside, even if it just playing wiffle ball or something. That is what we do for fun, it is just the Filius way I guess.”
This winter, the Filius family way worked, and then some. While most Havre residents like to forget about winter, and generally wish it away, the winter of 2014 will be one that lives on forever in the Filius household.