BILLINGS — Havre has taken the Class A Montana State High School State Wrestling Tournament team title each of the past five years.
There’s a chance they might not make it six as the Blue Ponies sit in third with 99 points, 20.5 behind first-place Sidney and three behind Lewistown. All three teams have at least six wrestlers in the semifinals, with the Blue Ponies and the Golden Eagles each pushing seven through.
Sidney, however, has eight wrestlers still alive in the consolation rounds. Havre and Lewistown just have three.
“We’ve been fighting through the wrestlebacks all year at tournaments,” Sidney wrestling coach Guy Melby said. “This one’s probably not going to be any different.”
The margin is small enough between the top three teams that nothing is out of the question. That said, the path to a sixth-straight title won’t be quite as easy for Havre as it was to their fifth.
The Blue Ponies ended last year’s Class A tournament with 126.5 more points than second-place Columbia Falls. Havre head coach Scott Filius seems relaxed.
“You have to get through the first day to get to the second without being in a huge hole,” Filius said. “So far we’ve done that.”
• Columbia Falls senior Ben Windauer has not placed, taken third, and taken second. Now he’s looking for first place at 160 pounds and after winning his first two matches with falls in 1:23 and 1:24, he’s looking like a contender.
It won’t come easy, however, as all but two matches in the weight class have been decided by a pin.
“[Winning] would mean everything to me, it’s been my goal since I started wrestling in kindergarten,” Windauer said. “It’s here, it’s in my reach, I’ve just got finish it and go for it.”
• Polson’s Parker Adler and Havre’s Connor Harris will have a showdown of two wrestlers who both moved up several weight classes to 152 pounds. Adler, a senior, moved up from 138, where he finished second at state while Harris, a sophomore, took third a year ago.
Adler is 44-4 on the season and looking to finish his career with a flourish in a tough bracket.
“It’s close and congested on the skill level, lot of kids that are in the running, not one kid that’s way out,” Adler said. “It’s a good, solid bracket.”
• Defending state titlist John Mears had little issue getting into the semifinals once again. The 132-pound Belgrade wrestler had a 47 second fall in the first round, which he followed up with a 3:06 pin in the second.
He’ll get Columbia Falls' Brandon Thomas in the semifinals tomorrow as the sophomore looks to begin the road to four-straight state championships.
“I think I still need to work on stuff, but I feel I’ve preformed pretty well. Last year I got the quick pin on top of the state championship and that was pretty fun,” Mears said. “I’m trying to pin everyone to keep that quick pin.”
• Dillon’s Brent Tezak breezed through the first round and quarterfinals of the 160-pound bracket. The senior is looking for his third-straight state championship and got both pins before the third period.
“I thought the first day went pretty well, our guys too, I think we did pretty well,” Tezak said. “Overall it was a pretty good day.”
• Havre’s Cameron Pleninger got one of the tougher quarterfinal draws of the tournament as the sophomore took out Polson's Mateo Quinones to move to the 113-pound quarterfinals.
Quinones, a senior, took fifth last year at 113 while Pleninger was second at 103. The Blue Pony wrestler won via fall in 3:37.
“I knew it would be tough, I’ve wrestled him before,” Pleninger said. “He’s improved since I last saw him, but I stuck to what I know, got the cradle and got the win.”