There’s no question that the Havre machine — or the Blue Pony Express, if you prefer — had the best wrestling team in Class A. And it again rolled over the competition at the state tournament.
Havre wrapped up its second consecutive title with relative ease on Saturday, piling up points in the semifinals and consolation rounds with frequency and urgency. It marked the Blue Ponies’ 11th state wrestling title, and their ninth since 1997.
They finished with 294½ points. Sidney, which hoped to capture its first championship since 2006, came in second with 268½ points. The Eagles got close, but couldn’t get over the hump.
“This is two years in a row that we had every kid that we brought to state contribute,” said Havre’s Tyler Adams, who beat his younger brother Travis in the 220-pound finals in what is believed to be the first title bout between siblings in Montana wrestling history.
“As a team, that’s great. I can’t say a bad thing about any of my teammates. We all wrestled really well and I’m proud of each one of them. We worked hard for this. We pushed ourselves to the limit for this.”
Havre marched six wrestlers in to the finals and came away with four champions: Adams, 138-pounder Parker Filius, 152-pounder Jase Stokes and 195-pounder Jace Billy. Stokes was named the quick-pin award winner, getting four total pins in 13 minutes, 35 seconds.
Parker Filius defeated Sidney’s Jordan Stevens in the finals, which aided to the Blue Ponies’ cause.
The match between Tyler and Travis Adams didn’t produce much suspense, just hard-nosed wrestling. In the end, Tyler earned a 14-5 decision.
“It was exciting,” Tyler Adams said. “I could not have imagined a better way to end my senior year. I loved it. And I knew Travis would give me a damn good match. He did.”
The Adams-vs.-Adams match wasn’t the only first that occurred in the Class A bracket. Laurel 98-pounder Abi Gontarek became the first girl to ever place at a state tournament.
Gontarek won three matches over the weekend and took fifth place. She was not only proud of the medal around her neck, but also for what it might mean for other girls who aspire to compete with boys at the highest level.
“It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling, especially thinking about all the people that told me I wouldn’t make it past the first practice two years ago,” Gontarek said. “It means a lot.
“There are girls around the state that have been wrestling for five or six years. It just kind of shows them that they can do whatever they want if they put their mind to it. Dream big. That’s what I did.”
Sidney’s quest for the team title fell short, but they made a number of individual marks. Gresh Jones, for instance, cruised to the 120-pound title, his third consecutive crown. He’s in line to join the four-time club next winter.
The Eagles advanced eight to the finals. Aside from Jones, they got championship victories from Trace Jones at 113 pounds and Cody Johnson at 160. Trace Jones is Gresh Jones’ younger brother. His pin of returning champion Clay Stillwagon of Butte Central was an upset.
“It’s been a great year,” Gresh Jones said. “To top it off my little brother comes in and gets a pin in his state title match. That was one of the best moments of my life, to have him there with me.”
Columbia Falls’ Shonn Roberts and Anaconda’s Bryan Armstrong also came in search of their third titles. Each accomplished that feat — Roberts at 126 pounds and Armstrong at 145. Roberts became Columbia Falls’ first three-time champion. Like Sidney’s Jones, he seeks a fourth title next year.
“It’s definitely something that everybody wants to do in high school for sure,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of tough kids in Class A. I wrestled Gresh Jones, another three-timer, and beat him. That would be an awesome matchup for the sport (next year). But he might be a little smaller than me. I don’t think I’m going to cut weight next year too much.”
Columbia Falls took third place with 172 points, marking its first trophy since 2003.
Belgrade brothers Jarrett and Sawyer Degen each claimed titles. Jarrett, a sophomore, got his second crown at 132 pounds, and Sawyer, a freshman, got his first at 98.
Dillon put two wrestlers in the winners circle: Kohltin Starkel at 106 pounds and Donovan Hucke at heavyweight. Libby 170-pounder Garret Chapel and Lewistown 182-pounder Ethan Blythe also won championships.