HAVRE — The Havre High wrestling room holds a special place for Blue Pony senior Martin Wilkie, and as his time on the high school mats nears an end, he’s making sure to soak it all in.
“It’s kind of crazy to see how time has gone by so fast,” Wilkie said. “Just the other day, I felt like I was a freshman and just going through the motions and stuff, but now it’s really time to push ourselves as the season is coming to an end. It’s our last shot, us as seniors.”
Entering the 2018-19 season, Wilkie’s career would already be considered one of the best in Havre High history. He won state championships as a freshman, sophomore and junior, and he has added to his legacy as a senior. He’s undefeated on the year and has claimed titles at the Havre Invite, the Jug Beck Rocky Mountain Classic, the Malta Invite, the Cut Bank Invite and, biggest of all, the Tri-State Classic in Coeur D’Alene.
Next weekend, he’ll have a chance to win a fourth consecutive Class A state title, something only two other Havre wrestlers have ever done. Wilkie was an underclassmen when Jase Stokes and Parker Filius pulled off the 4-peat in 2017 and made sure to watch and learn.
“Those guys, they don’t mess around when they’re in the room,” Wilkie recalled. “They were in here for an hour and a half, two hours, and they’re busting their butts the whole time. That’s something I took from them, is just work hard, make yourself uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Wilkie’s role has changed as a senior. After longtime Havre wrestling coach Scott Filius stepped down after 23 successful seasons last year, former Havre and MSU-Northern grappler Beau LaSalle stepped in. His star senior helped make the transition an easy one.
“(Wilkie) has really kind of taken over that leadership role and ran with it the last couple years,” LaSalle said. “It’s helped a lot and the transition was pretty seamless.”
Wilkie, who is committed to wrestle at Minnesota next year, is focused on team goals first and foremost. But the thought of capping his career as just the 33rd four-time state champ in history is something that’s been on his mind for a long time.
“It’s been a thought for a few years now. They had an interview about Parker and Jase being the next four-timers after my freshman year, and Scott brought to the attention that I could potentially be a four-timer,” Wilkie said. “So the thought kind of settled in right after that last match in the Metra my freshman year, it’s been a thought. Not something we can really think about too much, because we got work to do if we want to make it there and that’s the goal, of course.”
Before taking over as head coach, LaSalle was an assistant under Scott Filius for six seasons and has enjoyed watching Wilkie grow into one of the top wrestlers in the state.
“I came in when he was in junior high and you kind of knew he had something special,” LaSalle recalled. “We didn’t know exactly if he was going to be quite ready as a freshman, but he was. When the lights are on, he performs no matter what. He lives for big moments. I think this fourth one, if he just goes down and takes care of business, it will be business as usual. He’s been doing a good job of taking it one year at a time, and that’s kind of what it takes.”
Havre travels to Miles City this weekend for the Eastern A divisional tournament.