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Ponies hoping to get back on the diamond COVID-19 keepng all spring sports in limbo Aarron Thompson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The sports world has been experiencing its fair share of hectic moments currently, with much uncertainty of what the future holds. With the Montana High School Association suspending spring sports as of early March, many high school teams face a tough loss of their season. The Havre High softball team is one of those teams. Right now, the Blue Ponies are in a difficult position due to the coronavirus crisis. Until MHSA makes its verdict on April 13 as to whether or not cancel spring sports indefinitely, Havre’s season may be a swing and a miss. It is a trying time for the Ponies and head coach Tony Vigliotti is hoping for the best when it comes to his team’s season. “Right now, we’re just keeping our fingers crossed that we can save some kind of softball season for these girls, especially the seniors, who put in a lot of work in the offseason,” Vigliotti said. “We’re just hoping for any kind of season at all. We had a group of girls that put in a tremendous amount of time in the offseason. I really hope they get a chance to compete this year.” Many softball players were looking forward to continuing or start their sports journeys this year, too. After winter sports conclude, many of the athletes move to a spring sport for an array of different reasons. Now, there is a chance they may not get to. The 2020 senior class is currently taking quite the blow, too. Many, if not all, Havre seniors look forward to their last year as a Blue Pony because of how much it means to them, their families, teammates, coaches and fans. These seniors will be going through a big struggle. Not only that, but the Ponies

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Peyton Brown is one of many Blue pony seniors on the HHS softball team hoping that their season is suspended, and not canceled due to COVID-19. are in an even rougher spot. With the possible cancellation of spring sports, along with the hold in place issued by Governor Steve Bullock, Havre softball does not even have a roster selected for the potential season as of now, as the tryouts are usually held right after the winter sports season. “We didn’t even get to our selection process,” Vigliotti said.

“We had 31 to 32 girls come out, we got going and, of course, the state basketball tournament was in there, so we lost a couple girls to basketball, cheerleading, the pep band and kids that just wanted to go down and support their classmates. We haven’t even made it through the selection process yet. It just breaks my heart for these girls. This year was a fresh start in

many ways, especially with the new conference arrangements for Class A. Instead of the Central A, the Ponies new Northeast A conference opponents were going to be Glendive, Sidney and Miles City, with long-time-rival Lewistown in the conference, as well. Vigliotti and his team had a lot to look forward to when it came to these new rivals on the

field. “For us, it was going to be the first year of our new league,” Vigliotti said. “to be really honest, the only team I’m real familiar with is Lewistown. They were and are going to be pretty good if we can get this season underway. We have a chance to be pretty good if we get going here, but we’ll just have to wait and see.” If the season does permit after

the decision of April 13. Havre will have quite the exciting schedule ahead of them. March 28 has passed already, but last weekend was to be the start of the season for the Ponies, where they would have played against Class AA twotime defending state champions Great Falls on the road. Then, on Saturday on the road, Havre had Miles City waiting for them. The Ponies then would have exchanged road and home games with Lewistown, going to the Golden Eagles Apr. 10-11 and then playing them at home Apr. 13. Havre’s next matchup would be Class B Glasgow on Apr. 20, who would come up to Blue Pony country for a game. HHS would have followed that game up with two Northeast A games in a row, with Sidney in Havre first on Apr. 25, then on the road back to Lewistown next on May 1. On May 2, the Ponies were to host, then head to Glasgow May 5 and end the regular season against Butte Central on May 8-9. After that, the postseason would be back in Havre on May 15-16 and state softball was to be held in Butte on May 21-23. If the year were to go on, Vigliotti has an idea of who would provide the toughest competition on the schedule. “I think as far as Class A teams go, probably Lewistown as far as our conference schedule goes,” Vigliotti said. “We were scheduled to play Great Falls High and I was kind of looking forward to that.” There was a lot to be excited about when it came to the HHS softball season for the team and the fans this year. But now, there is a cloud of uncertainty and worry that the team that worked so hard before the season may not get to show all that effort on the field. Even so, Vigliotti knows that all him and his team can do right now is have hope that they will get the chance to take the field for the 2020 season, so that the Blue Ponies can show their stuff once again. Like many of the Havre spring sports, hope is what is keeping them moving.


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Havre

DAILY NEWS

Spring 2020

www.havredailynews.com

Blue Pony tennis program has big numbers and tons of talent

If they get to play, the Havre High tennis teams should be very strong once again

Havre Daily News Staff There may not be a 2020 Havre High tennis season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But, if there is one, longtime Havre High head coach George Ferguson says his Blue Ponies will be ready. “It’s been really hard,” Ferguson said of spring sports, including tennis being in doubt. “We have over 50 kids out for tennis this year, we have a program and tradition where these kids wait all year for the spring to get here. And now, it might all be taken away from them. So it’s tough. It hurts.” Still, if the season does resume, the Blue Pony teams will be ready to hit the courts. They did get in one week of practice before the Montana High School Association suspended spring sports until at least April 13, a deadline that now looms. “We did get started, didn’t even have to really shovel the courts much this year,” Ferguson, who is in his 18th season at HHS, said. “We were off to a pretty good start in my opinion. Hopefully, at some point, we get to pick it back up again, but, at the same time, the safety of our kids is also the most important thing to me.” If the season resumes, the Blue Pony teams will be in a new division — the new Northeast A. The division will include Havre, Lewistown, Glendive and Miles City. “I was so excited about the new division,” Ferguson said. “That’s mainly because that’s the division I played in when I was a Pony tennis player. I’m old, so it was a long time ago, but for me, it’s like going back to my roots a little bit.” The Blue Pony boys are looking forward to bringing their streak of 10 straight divisional championship to the new Northeast A as well, and Havre certainly feels it has the firepower to continue that trend. Senior doubles players Jake Huston, Reese Bulkley and Tyrel Kjersem all went to state a year ago, with Kjersem teaming with the graduated Tommy Brown to finish third in Class A. Junior singles standout Josh Warp is back as well after he reached the state tourney last spring too. Ferguson said the depth of his squad would also be a strength with returning varsity players like junior Mick Chagnon, sophomores Trenton Maloughney, Josh Currie and Theron Peterson, and seniors John South and Troy Powell. A deep group of sophomores that includes Tavish McLean, Randy Tommerup, Carter Leeds, Colin Miller, Jared Rosgaard, newcomers Caleb Spangler, Justin Rosgaard and Kendall Pleninger, along with returnees Riley Longknife and Kya Lodgepole, as well as se-

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High senior Cassidy Acor hits a forehand during a 2019 Blue Pony tennis match. Acor is one of many HHS seniors hoping to still get a chance to play tennis this spring, but, due to the growing coronavirus pandemic, spring sports in Montana are currently suspended. nior Noah Nitz, who played as a freshman, give Havre a deep, deep boys team. And that’s not to mention a big group of freshman newcomers as well. “Our boys team is built to be very successful again this season,” Ferguson said. “It starts with our seniors and juniors. They’re all really good, accomplished tennis players, and they are poised to all do bing things again this season. Then, that group of sophomores, what a tremendous group they are. They all worked really hard to improve, and they could literally give is a second varsity team. That’s how talented they are and how much potential there is there. “So when you have that much depth, our practices and challenges matches are going to be very competitive, and then you add in the group of freshmen and newcomers we have out this spring, wow, our boys program

is in great shape, and I’m really excited about it,” he added. As for the competition, the Pony boys certainly expect to win a divisional championship, and contend for state hardware. “That never changes,” Ferguson said. “That’s the standard in our program. Those are always the goals. These guys all know it, they all embrace it, and it’s what they want to achieve. We really don’t talk about it too much during the season, but, literally everything we do, every rep, every practice, every regular season match, it’s all to get ready to chase our goals at the end of the season.” The Havre girls have goals too, but, the Ponies will look much different if they get to play this spring, as HHS graduated seven of its 10 divisional team girls from last spring, where the Ponies came oh so close to upending Livingston for the divisional title.

“We graduated a lot,” Ferguson said. “We graduated a group of girls who had been in program for a long time, and they were great. But, that group also helped prepare the girls we have coming back for their turn. So I think our program is in good hands.” Only three returning varsity players are back for the Pony girls, led by senior Cassidy Acor, who is a four-year Standout that teamed with her sister Kadyn last year in doubles on their way to making the state tournament. Acor will move back to singles this season, while 2019 singles players Tamera O’Leary and Sylvia Wilting will now team up in doubles. “Going to count on those three to really lead us,” Ferguson said. “Especially in practice. Those three girls have the experience and the leadership to help get our young girls up to speed.” Havre does have returners

ready to step uo though, including senior Angela Rhines, who is poised to do big things this year. Add to that Grace Krantz gained valuable experience a year ago, as did Talia Ralph. Fellow returners McKenzie Mangold, Destiny Hernandez and Sierra Hofland should also be poised to step up this spring, while Ferguson is excited about his newcomers too. That group includes transfer Mallah Beauchaine, as well as newcomers Kate Hemmer, Rayna Johnson, Emerald Tinsley, Emme Lines, Blakelee Lines and Courtney Burchard among others. “I was excited about the turnout of new girls,” Ferguson said. “It was a year when we really needed it because graduation hit us so hard. And those new girls, they all have a ton of potential. And they’ll be an important part of our girls team going forward.”

Of course, with the season still in doubt, Ferguson is hoping he gets a chance to teach all of his newcomers the game he loves to teach, as well as see his seniors get to finish what they started. “It’s hard and emotional to even talk about,” Ferguson said. “I’m trying to stay positive and hope for the best. Coaching these kids means the world to me. Not being around them, and not being able to be there for them has been really hard. “Not to mention, just not being able to be a team, that’s so hard,” he continued. “Tennis is an individual sport but it’s also a team sport, and we really take pride in the team aspect of high school tennis, and I really miss that. So I’m just hoping for the best and we’ll see what happens, but especially for our seniors, I hope we get to move forward at some point, and if we do, our kids will be ready to do special things on the court.”


3

Havre

DAILY NEWS

Spring 2020

www.havredailynews.com

Blue Pony thinclads were ready to run Aarron Thompson

Havre Daily News cpeterson@havredailynews.com The uncertain fate of the Havre High track team’s season still looms, as the coronavirus concern continues to threaten Montana spring sports. As April 13 approaches, many coaches and teams are hoping for a chance to be able to play, including the Blue Ponies. The season may be in jeopardy, but HHS head coach John Ita is working hard to keep his team upbeat in optimistic in the trying time. As the days go by, many Havre track athletes have been working to stay in shape to make up for the current loss of the season. Ita is left in the dark as of now and had a lot to look forward to about his teams. “I think if we were going to have a normal season, I think there were some seniors that were poised to have a fine season and track meets,” Ita said. “For the boys, there’s a good group of boys that stood out. You always look forward to having all that, so when you don’t have it it’s really tough.” Last season, the Pony girls tied with Glendive and Polson for seventh at state, with a lot of impressive individual performances to boot. The boys had a fair season, as well. Ita and Havre have been making lots of progress in recent years. On top of that, there was a lot of potential for the Ponies to do well again this season. For the boys, 50 athletes were to compete for Havre in 2020. Seniors like Quinn Springer, Dexter Beck, Andy Boucher, Preston Glock, Mitch Woronik, Kasee Henderson, Joah Kinsella, Jarah Kinsella, Garrett Parsons, Cameron Pleninger and Mason Rismon would be returning to the team for their last season. The rest of the boys would be Evan Baker, Zinan Bennett, Parker Big Knife, Xavier Butler, Joey Byrd, Jasper Carlson, Eli Cloninger, Russel Dunning, Ethan Durward, Ethan Elliot, Adriel Greenough, Brody Henry, Parker Hodshire, Nathan Howard, Caden Jenkins, Larenzo Johnson, Morgan Jordan, Colby Lammers, Nolan Lotton, Chase Mariani, Tyler Messineo, Zachary Monk, Brody Nanini, Brock Nystrom, Carter Nystrom, Ryan Powell, Stephen Preputin, Carson Sandstrom, Haiden Siegel, Brayden Stadel, Tyler Sunchild, Crawford Terry, Orion Thivierge, Kale VanCampen, Trenton Varney, Quinlann Waldron, Bradyn Winchell, Jason Wold and Dylan Young.

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson Havre High seniors like Mason Rismon were looking forward to the new high school track and field season. For now though, the Blue Ponies' season, which would have included next week's Lions Havre Invitational, is on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In the case of the girls, 24 would take to the track and field in 2020. Seniors like Jessa Chvilicek, Devyn Huebsch, Jocelyn Ketchum, Grace Loftus, Kadia Miller and Katie Wirtzberger would have helped lead the charge for the girls team. The other girls would be Abigail Adams, Jolie Coyne, Amya Custer, Sadie Filius, Emma Gillen, Addison Golie, Jenna Golie, Ashlynn Hanson-Gleed, Hannah Haslem, Tymarie Hewitt, Alexa LaBrie, Ellycia Moore, Marissa Ratliff, Heather Rolf, Caitlynn Ruby, McKayla Solomon, Raelie Stamper-WindyBoy, Danikqua Thomas and Loy Waid. Overall, HHS was to have 74 competitors out for track this

season, which Ita was very excited about, especially when it came to the seniors. "A lot of those kids I had looked forward to returning,” Ita said. “We had a lot of seniors that were coming back. They were all learning quite a bit last year and you don’t know what they’re going to do next year. I feel bad that that may not happen.” If the 2020 season does move forward after the Montana High School Association’s decision on April 13, the Ponies will have another tough schedule ahead of them. March 28 has already gone by, but the Glasgow Invitational was to take place last Saturday in Scotties country. The Cal Wear-

ly Invite in Havre was to start today after the Glasgow meet, where Havre would meet with other teams along the Hi-Line. Then on Saturday the Havre Lions Invite was scheduled to take place. Cut Bank was listed as a location on Havre’s schedule on Apr. 9, followed by some more road trips across Montana. Apr. 18 would see the Ponies head to the Laurel Invite in Laurel, followed by a meet on Apr. 21 in Malta. Then, HHS would head to Great Falls on Apr. 25, then to Glasgow once again for the Top Ten meet pm Apr. 28. On May 2, the Ponies would head back home for the Havre Invitational at the Havre Middle School Track, followed by divisionals at Glendive on May 15-16

and state at Laurel on May 22-23 for the postseason. At the end of the day, the Ponies could have an intense schedule of the year proceeds in good favor. When it comes to the top teams in Class A, though, Ita sees it as a toss up on who, if the season permits, could be a tough competitor. “It seems it’s always kind of hard to say,” Ita said. “I’m not going to say that Havre would have been a top team, but I think our relays for both the boys and girls would have been very scrappy. As far as other teams are concerned it always kind of hard to tell. You don’t know who comes out and who doesn’t come out for the other schools. I’m not really sure.” But as of now, big meets like

the Cal Wearly and the Havre Invite will not happen. When it comes to the Cal Wearly Invitational, the Hi-Line receives a lot of support at the Havre Middle School Track. Without it, there would be a blow to the year for sure. Meanwhile, the Havre Invite is a big night for seniors, who would likely celebrate their senior night then. There is no true answer for what may happen to the 2020 track season for Havre, but Ita has knows that he has to keep his team on the right mindset in case things to go smoothly after April 13. Along with many of the coaches and teams across Montana, Ita will look to help his athletes keep optimistic at the end of the day.


4

Havre

DAILY NEWS

Spring 2020

www.havredailynews.com

As always, track and field on the Hi-Line would be really good Aarron Thompson

Havre Daily News sports editor gferguson@havredailynews.com Many track teams along the Hi-Line have been working hard to make some noise for the 2020 spring track and field season, but with the coronavirus concern rising every day, those Hi-Line coaches and athletes may not have a season at all. The Montana High School Association is currently exploring options for the year but have currently canceled the spring sports season. The Hi-Line has a lot of teams that work hard in the spring to produce great results throughout the season. Along with Havre High, Class B schools Harlem and Rocky Boy and the District 9C look forward to every season so it can prove the prowess that was developed in the offseason. In Class B last year, the Harlem girls placed 10th, the Rocky Boy girls finished twenty-first and the Harlem boys placed twenty-first at the Class B state meet at Legends Stadium in Kalispell. Meanwhile, the Fort Benton girls had a big year in Class C, placing third at state at the Laurel Sports Complex in Laurel. The Chester-JoplinInverness girls finished twentyfirst at state and the Chinook girls placed twenty-ninth at state. For the Class C boys, the Longhorns took third place at state, North Star finished in twenty-fourth and Big Sandy followed right behind the Knights in twenty-fifth. There would be a lot of athletes among the 9C. From Big Sandy, boys seniors Kade Strutz, Clint Darlington, Jeremiah Genereux, Brock Proulx and Ryan Roth and girls seniors Amanda Cline, Seanna Demontiney, Bailey Gasvoda and Erin Taylor would lead the charge. The rest of the teams would be Parker Proulx, Cam Schwarzbach, Tyler Schwarzbach, Anna Allderdice, Jozlyn Baumann, Alicia Bjornstad, Abriana Blanton, Katherine Bold, Haley Schwenke and Mad-

ison Terry. In Longhorn country, seniors Jace Thompson, Garrett Diekhans, Braden Evans, Stephen Gannon, Nicole Axtman, McKenzie Clark and Cassie Nack would be the core leadership. The rest of the Fort Benton teams would be Billy Ullery, Jackson Schmele, Cody Olson, Nick Marias, Tim Lane, Aedan Hanson, Kyle Glass, Jacob Giles, Hayden Diekhans, Devin Bird, Colter Ball, Kaden Bach, Hayden Axtman, Baylee Blansett, Abby Clark, Jenna Dunham, Cloe Kalanick, Maci Molinario, Samantha Vielleux, Allie Wallace, Ashlee Wang and Jasmine Wilson. In Box Elder, Hunter Rainingbird, JonAye Doney, Haidyn Rainingbird and Faith Wells would return. Chester-Joplin-Inverness would see Caleb Blair, Ryker Elverud, Lane Fischer, Bryce Ghekiere, Trevin Grammar, Ethan Habets, Kyle Harmon, Bryce Kammerzell, Spencer Richter, Gunnar Wickum, Andrew Woods, Tatum Hull, Kyla Mansfield, Averie Mattson and Samantha May back on the scene. The Sugarbeeters would have, Sam Dumas, Josh Gillett, Kurtis Hamilton, Damon Hannum, J.T Hauer, Hunter Molyneaux, Toby Niederegger, Martin Nussbaum, Jase Pursley, Abigail Hamilton, Kinley Hamilton, Raynee Hasler, Ginger Hauer, Jayden Miller, Anna Morrow and Rebecca Stroh return. Hays Lodge-Pole’s would-be returners are Randy Buckles, Vincent Chandler, Isaiah Denny, Estevan Granados, Lane Kirkaldie, LoyGene Molina, Ty Mount, Josiah Runs Above, Tyshawn Shambo, Ethan Werk, Gabriel Werk, Randall Werk, Jaedyn Chandler, Sierra Chandler, Judemia Gray, Tahtianna Whitecow-Morgan, Madison Plainfeather, Mayliana Plainfeather, Lakota Pretty Paint, Justice Werk and Riley Werk. For the Knights, Ethan Federspiel, Kaden Frickel, Hayden Massar, Daniel Nerat, Frankie Nerat, Garret Pedersen, Caden

Rettig, Jaden Sargent, Collin Welch, Jasper Wendland, Laramie Peterson, Mya Valdillez, Aubrey Welch, Choral Wicks and Kenidee Wolery would be returning. Lastly in the 9C, Turner would see Jack Harmon, Shane Kimmel, Spencer See, Sarah Billmayer, Victoria Kirby, Shyan Krass and Laci Maloney return for another season. In Class B, District 2B Harlem would see Tracel Adams, Dalray Begay, Lance BlackCrow, Truth Brockie, cross country champion and all-state selection Brad Cichosz, Brent Cole, Michael King, Zachry Kinyon, Daniel Lawrence, Jacob LongFox, Darrius LongKnife, Trenton Main, Andrew Rasmussen, Mikkel Rider, Amari Stanley, Cheyne TalksDifferent, Skyler Yazzie, Kristyn Kittson, L’Tia Lawrence, Chloe Messerly and Taya Trottier would be back in action. In the District 1B, Rocky Boy would have Benji Crebs, Devin Johnson, Isiah Limberhand, Darius Murie, Nickolas Parker, Cruz SunChild, Naomi DayChild, Arayiah FourSouls, Ella Moore, J’Leanna Raining Bird and Cree Small return. With the season’s that these players had last year, there will likely be a return of powerhouses like Fort Benton if the spring sports season is greenflagged. Fort Benton will look to return to some state hardware once again in 2020. With quite a few returning standouts like Diekhans and Thompson, there will be a reason to look out for the Longhorns. Meanwhile, North Star, Big Sandy CJI and Chinook hope to put up a good fight, as well. The rest of the 9C would look to make some noise, too. For Class B, it is likely Cichosz and L’Tia Lawrence can help their team make it back to the state tournament if all goes well for spring sports. Harlem has a lot of promise once again to go back to the big dance, even if they did not place too well last year in the end. If the season were to go for-

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson North Star's Caden Rettig clears the pole vault bar during the 2019 District 9C Track Meet in Havre. The Knights and many other area teams figured to be very strong on the track this season, but, as of now, that track ad field season is in jeopardy due to COVID-19.

ward, many athletes will be looking forward to the Hi-Line’s biggest spring sports meet in the Cal Wearly Invitational, which was to be held starting today at the Havre Middle School Track. The Cal Wearly invite is a big deal for the Hi-Line, bringing in many fans and revenue for the community of Havre, which does not see that sort of spike too often in sports. North Star athletic director Brian Campbell knows how much the Cal Wearly Invitational means to the Hi-Line. “It is one of the biggest meets

in the state, so I would really like to see it happen,” Campbell said. “However, if the season does proceed it is going to be unchartered territory so we will all figure it out as we go.” But in the current situation involving COVID-19, there is no guarantee that the Cal Wearly invite could even happen, moving it to a different date or not. As of right now, Apr. 13 will decide what happens with spring sports. If the MHSA says spring sports are a-go, then the Cal Wearly will likely find another set of days to call home.

The Hi-Line thrives of the excitement of such a big invitational. Without it, there may not be that opportunity for 2020, which would leave many across the Hi-Line heartbroken to not get to watch Havre, Harlem, Rocky Boy and the District 9C throw down in Havre. For now, the Hi-Line awaits the decision from MHSA about the continuation or cancellation of the spring sports season, with hopes that the athletes across the Hi-Line can get the chance to run free uninterrupted.

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